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*Updated 2021 Baseball Schedule Preview

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Originally posted on 1/24/2021 when we still had three open weekend dates.

Georgia Tech v Vanderbilt Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The 2021 Vanderbilt Diamond Dores Schedule

(*Note: If you want to read the original Schedule Preview sans these additional OOC weekend match-ups, and I don’t know why you would, click here.)

Week One (2/19-2/21): vs. Wright State

2020 Record: 6-9 (nice). The Wright State Dog Raiders played a brutal 2020 OOC Schedule, facing Clanga thrice, The Chuggers thrice, Auburn thrice, and even Louisville once. They went 3-8 against those teams (beating Louisville and taking 2 out of 3 from The Chuggers), which means our boys should not take them lightly.

Player to Watch: #23 C Sr. Konner “The Plate” Piotto. The senior backstop from Abootsford, British Columbia, CA (not even kidding... a Canadian from a place named “Aboot Town;” damn, you’ve got to love baseball), absolutely raked in 2020s Covid-shortened season, putting up a .333/.417/.452 slash line with 5 2Bs. The dude even went 3-3 on the base paths. Though “The Plate” was a senior last year, he chose to take advantage of the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA, so we’ll have to reckon with him.

*Note: #10 OF RS Jr. Quincy Hamilton was not going to give away his shot at additional eligibility, either. He’s really the only other Wright State Dog Raider we have to worry about at the plate.

Confidence Level: High.

Midweek Game: 2/23 vs. Western Kentucky

Week Two (2/26-2/28): vs. Georgia State

*Note: This is a 4 game series, as Saturday is a double header.

2020 Record: 9-7. No one can convince me that the Georgia State University Sex Panthers went 9-7 for any other reason than to be able to say, “They’ve done studies, you know. 60% of the time, it works every time.“ No one.

If you look at their schedule a bit closer, you’ll discover that not only was it made by Odeon, but, well, they didn’t really play anyone. Sure, they opened strong, sweeping Cincinnati 9-8, St. Johns 7-5, and St. Peter’s 9-7 (no, I don’t know who they are, either, but I’m pretty sure their mascot is an angry peacock), but then went 6-7 against the likes of Gardner-Webb, Bryant, Western Carolina (go Kanamits!), ETSU, North Alabama, Mercer, and UNC Asheville.

In short, all we know about Georgia State is they’re made with bits of real panther, so you know it’s good.

Player to Watch: #18 Sr. C/LF/DH Elian “Gonzalez” Merejo.

Like many “players to watch” this year, Merejo is a 5th year senior who chose to take advantage of the extra year of eligibility. From his roster page:

Named Sun Belt Conference Breakout Player of the Year by D1 Baseball ... The Panthers’ top hitter who hit third in the batting order while starting all 16 games in left field or at DH ... Led the team with a .407 batting average, five homers and six doubles, along with 13 RBI ... Ranked in the Top 5 in the Sun Belt in average (4th), homers (4th), slugging (.763/2nd) and on-base percentage (.527/3rd) and walks (15/2nd) ... Walked 15 times, including five intentional walks ... Second on the team with 18 runs scored.

Confidence Level: High.

No Midweek Game. I guess that explains the double header on Saturday.

Week Three (3/5-3/7): vs. Illinois-Chicago

2020 Record: 4-12. Yes the UIC Flamers (managed by former Beastie Boy Mike Dee) flamed out last year, but at least they challenged themselves. The main reason they lost so many games was they opened the season with a 4 game set at Auburn followed by a 3 game series at Vanderbilt. It should shock no one that a mid-major team like UIC would be swept in both and begin the year 0-7. Of course, they continued to get pasted by the likes of UC Santa Barbara and Northwestern, and were 0-11 before a 6-1 victory over St. Bonaventure (no, we didn’t know they played anything other than shooty hoops, either) finally got them into the win column.

Player to Watch: When your best hitter only went .254/.302/.322 on the season, the correct answer is no one. Still, I’m going to give the nod to the guy whose name I remember most from last year’s series: #13 Sr. SS Ryan Lin-Peistrup. He’s a four year starter at short, and is clearly their best defender. At the plate he hit juuuuuuuust north of the Mendoza line, but again, on this team, that’s good enough to be the 4th best hitter for average amongst the starters.

Confidence Level: High.

Midweek Game: 3/9 vs. Memphis

Week Four (3/12-3/14): at Oklahoma State

2020 Record: 13-5. Former Vanderbilt assistant coach Josh Holliday’s Pokes squad opened their 2020 season in an ignominious fashion—dropping 2 of 3 to the Grand Canyon University Fightin’ Online Bryce Drews. The also dropped contests to UCLA (understandable), Illinois (less understandable), and Mizzourah State (spits). On the plus side, they did beat Arizona State and fellow Big XII foe aTm.

Player to Watch: #7 Sr. INF/C Max “Packard” Hewitt. The Connors State Juco transfer took advantage of the extra year of eligibility, and will likely be getting a graduate degree in animal husbandry or some such Okie State major. He’s from Ontario, CA, so he has already likely apologized for this. In 2020, he slashed .410/.479/.525 with 5 2Bs and a 3B.

Confidence Level: High (and it really sucks that I can’t go see this, as I am one of the last remaining responsible people in Oklahoma).

Midweek Game: 3/16 vs. Belmont.

SEC Conference Play Begins

Week Five (3/19-3/21): vs. The South Cackalacky Game Penises

2020 Record: 12-4. The Penises closed out last year on a 5 game win streak, and though their record would at first glance paint a picture that they are better than they have been of late, those five games were against Furman, Cornell, and The Citadel. Had they beaten Cornell’s all male acapella group, Here Comes Treble, I would have been more impressed.

Player to Watch: #28 Jr. INF/C Wes “Used to be Mel” Clarke. This Angel is not in the outfield, though he sends a lot of balls over the fencing they’ve set up out there. He hit 8 dingers in 16 games last year, so, you know, give him a healthy mix of the off-speed stuff.

Confidence Level: High.

Midweek Game: 3/23 vs. The David Lipscomb University Bisons.

Week Six (3/26-3/28): at Mizzourah (SEC-Big XII Challenge Week)

2020 Record: 11-5. Similar to the Penises, the Big XII Tigers closed strong, with a 7 game winning streak. Two of those wins were against fellow Big XII foes Texas and Oklahoma, but the remaining 5 were against Western Illinois and Northern Illinois, respectively. The season was cancelled before they could play Eastern and Southern Illinois, apparently.

Player to Watch: #21 RS Jr. Brandt “$1000 to Watch” Belk. The Pepperdine transfer batted .457/.544/.652 in 16 games last year. Let’s just say he’s not that good and move on. Only one other Mizzourah Big XII Tiger starter hit over .300. They are who they always are. If they can pitch, they’re dangerous. Their pitching staff this year looks to be less than stellar.

Confidence Level: High.

Midweek Game: 3/30 vs. Tennessee Tech.

Week Seven (4/2-4/4): at The Louisiana State Gumbo Bengals

2020 Record: 12-5. Ask LSU fans about last year’s team and watch them try to talk about literally anything else. With losses to Nichols and Eastern Kentucky, it’s easy to see why they were less than pleased. Beyond that, the only semi-tough games they scheduled were a three game set against Texas, Baylor, and OU, respectively. They went 1-2 in those games, beating Texas by a run.

Player to Watch: #0 Jr. RHP Jaden “Bobby” Hill. Though Hill appeared in only 4 games, and was LSU’s closer last year, he only surrendered one hit in 11 and 2/3 IP. As a freshman, he was sidelined with elbow troubles. He’s expected to be Yellow Shoe’s Friday starter this year, though, and MLB scouts are intrigued. He’s currently being mocked in the top 10 overall (MLB.com has him at #5 to the Orioles). He has a power arm and a filthy changeup. In short, a match-up between Rocker and Hill would be appointment viewing for everyone who considers themselves a baseball fan.

LSU normally has a murderer’s row at the plate. That wasn’t the case last year, so let’s hope that continues.

Confidence Level: High.

Midweek Game: 4/6 vs. UT-Martin.

Week Eight (4/9-4/11): vs. The University of Georgia Ugga’s Balls Resting on a Tray of Ice

2020 Record: 14-4.

Player to Watch: NOT Emerson Hancock, thank Jebus. The Seattle Mariners got an absolute steal in Hancock at #6 overall. That man was unreal, and we no longer have to face him. We will also not have to face Cole Wilcox (3rd round, Padres). Be happy.

The best of their returning pitchers is likely #6 Jr. LHP C.J. “Royston Vasey” Smith (0-1, 3.32 ERA). He’s from Royston, GA where his parents run a “local shop... for locals.” If you get this reference, you win the internet for the day.

Georgia’s hitters are... fine (hat tip to #44 RS. So. OF Ben “LaGrange” Anderson who hit .414 in 2020)... but what made The Ugga’s Balls Resting on a Tray of Ice dangerous was the 1-2 punch of Hancock and Wilcox. Again, they’re no longer there. Be happy.

Confidence Level: High.

Midweek Game: 4/13 vs. Eastern Kentucky.

Week Nine (4/16-4/18): at THOSE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED

2020 Record: 15-2. Sorry, I had to go to their athletics website to write this section, and had to pause repeatedly to vomit.

Looking more closely at their 2020 schedule... oh God (runs to the bathroom to vomit some more). Deletes tab. Sorry... I just cannot look at that much orange any longer.

Player to Watch: Not LHP Garrett Crochet (1st round, White Sox), OF Alerick Soularie (2nd round, Twins), nor OF Zach “Charlie” Daniels (4th round, Astros). Seriously, last year’s Chuggers squad was likely their high water mark for a while.

Of their 2021 roster, I’d keep an eye on Central Arizona Juco transfer Jr. INF Liam “Geelong Dead” Spence (.346/.462/.462).

Not really, though. Like Ugga, the guys you legitimately need to worry about on The Chuggers’ squad are plying their wares professionally now.

Confidence Level: High.

Midweek Game: 4/20 vs. Austin Peay. Both our confidence and our commentariat will likely be high on this day.

Week Ten (4/23-4/25): vs. The Clanga State Whinin’ 11.7s

2020 Record: 12-4. Clanga opened 2020 with a 3 game sweep of the same Wright State Dog Raiders we will face this year. Wright State’s AD must be a masochist. Looking further, they took 2 of 3 from Oregon State (that’s good!), lost 2 of 3 against Long Beach State (that’s bad!), swept a 2 game set against Texas Tech (that’s good!), and lost a mid-week game to Texas Southern (that’s bad!). All in all, 2020 was a mixed bag for the Whinin’ 11.7s, as like their namesake, councilman Les Wynan, they should have done a little more winning, and a little less whinin’.

Player to Watch: #4 Sr. OF Rowdey “Roddy” Jordan (.308/.395/.338). Though Clanga’s lineup should be relatively defanged what with their double play duo of 2B Justin Foscue (1st round, Rangers), and SS Jordan Westburg (Supplemental 1st round, Orioles) moving on to the next level, they got a somewhat surprising senior returnee in Rowdey Roddy Jordan.

On the mound, their best returning starter is #28 Jr. LHP Christian “The Cloud” MacLeod (4-0, 0.86 ERA). The junior is expected to go in the first few rounds of the 2021 MLB Draft, as despite his average fastball velocity, his curveball is a true out pitch, and his change up is developing nicely. Have to assume he’ll get the ball on Fridays this year, and just like with LSU, the Rocker vs. MacLeod matchup will be appointment viewing.

Confidence Level: High, as a little known SEC bylaw forced them to give us all of their scholarships last year.

No Midweek Game.

Week Eleven (4/30-5/2): at The Jortsville Jorts

2020 Record: 16-1. This is likely to be our toughest weekend of the year, as not only are the Jorts looking to be good this year, but we’ll have to spend a weekend in the uninhabitable hell hole that is Florida. Their most impressive series was a sweep of the Miami Hurricanes. Their only loss was to Florida State.

Player to Watch: #4 Jr. PF Jud “Fabulous” Fabian. Yes, that nickname is for Parlagi. Fabulous Fabian, though supremely talented and blessed with the power gene, has not exactly lit things up in his first two years of SEC play. In fact, he has a .250 cumulative batting average and a 22% K-rate (*note: he was markedly better as a sophomore, but nothing that’s setting the world on fire, as he hit .294/.407/.603 with 6 2Bs and 5 dingers). Might he be one of those “better as a pro than in college” guys? Certainly could be, or maybe MLB scouts are focusing too much on his loud tools and not enough on his lack of production. Either way, he’s the one to watch.

Fellow Jr. OF #1 Jacob Young is also a hitter to watch, as he batted .450 in last year’s shortened season.

Their pitching staff is pretty good, too (though not as dominant as ours), as they got two gifts in the form of Sr. RHP Tommy Mace (3-0, 1.67 ERA) and Sr. RHP Jack Leftwich (2-0, 4.15 ERA) returned to school after not being drafted in the truncated to 5 rounds 2020 MLB Draft. In a normal year, they’d be pitching in the minors. Instead, we have to deal with them again. So. LHP Hunter Barco (2-0, 1.40) will likely round out the starting rotation, and no, I’m not happy about that, either.

Confidence Level: Medium. They’re a fellow CWS favorite, and will likely be our toughest opponent. We will be the same for them.

Midweek Game: 5/4 at Louisville. BRING ME MAH BARREL!!!

Week Twelve (5/7-5/9): vs. The Ramajama Gumps

2020 Record: 16-1. The Gumps caught fire last year, but was it real, or was it a mirage?

I’ll go on record saying it was the latter, as they quite literally played no one last year. Their sole loss was to the David Lipscomb University Bisons. There’s no reason to point that out other than I never let an opportunity go by the wayside to point out that there is a university which doesn’t know the rules of pluralization.

Who did they beat? Northeastern, Alabama State, UNLV, UT-Martin, Empty S-U, Harvard, South Alabama, and The Bisons.

South Alabama is the best of that bunch. Again, I’d temper my expectations for the 2021 season, Gump fans.

Player to Watch: #4 So. LHP Connor “Before Lip” Prielipp (3-0, 0.00 ERA). Listen, I don’t care who you play, any time you surrender no runs in 4 starts against college competition, you get my eyebrow to raise. Sitting around 90mph with the fastball, Prielipp isn’t going to blow anything by you. Small sample size aside, you can’t argue with his results thus far. I’ll try to watch a few of his starts before this series to get a better handle on what we can expect.

Confidence Level: High.

Midweek Game: 5/11 vs. North Alabama.

Week Thirteen (5/14-5/16): at The Ole Piss Admiral Ackbars

2020 Record: 16-1. That makes three teams in a row who compiled 16-1 records in 2020. Of course, those numbers can be deceiving, as I explained earlier with the difference between The Jorts (all but dominant) and The Gumps (didn’t play anyone). So where do The Ackbars fit in?

Well, they did play some actual competition, as they took 2 of 3 from a seriously good Louisville Cardinals team of absolute dipshits (no, we will never forget the douche baggery of Luke Smith). They also beat a ranked ECU team. The rest of their schedule was typical OOC cupcakes, of course, but that is to be expected.

However, as you’ll see below, their 2020 squad was a talented veteran team, and their 2021 team, though still talented, will not be the same group.

Player to Watch: Not the entire left side of their infield: SS Anthony Servideo (3rd round, Orioles), 3B Tyler Keenan (4th round, Orioles).

Their best returning hitter is #9 Jr. OF Hayden “Baseball Name” Leatherwood (.361/.477/.639).

Their best returning pitcher is #17 Jr. RHP Gunnar “The Hog” Hoglund (3-0, 1.16 ERA). #26 Jr. LHP Doug Nikhazy (3-1, 2.35 ERA) is also a solid SEC starter. #16 So. RHP Derek “Dustin” Diamond (2-0, 3.48 ERA) returns, as well. Okay, their entire 2020 pitching staff returns. That’s not great for us. Still, it will be interesting to see what happens to their ERAs once they no longer have a stud SS hoovering up everything hit his way.

Confidence Level: Medium to High.

Midweek Game: 5/18 vs. Florida International.

Week Fourteen (5/20-5/22): vs. The University of Kentucky Fightin’ Blue Balls

2020 Record: 11-6. Kentucky opened their season being swept by TCU, and did not schedule any other opponents of note. Still, they were also swept by UNC Wilmington. Oof.

Player to Watch: The Fightin’ Blue Balls did not lose anyone to the draft, but that was mostly because there wasn’t any draft eligible player on their team worthy of a lot of MLB scouting attention.

There is someone MLB teams will likely start watching pretty soon, though, and that’s #1 So. OF John “The Colossus” Rhodes. The Colossus was the Collegiate Baseball News 2020 Co-Freshman of the Year, and his numbers tell the whole story. Rhodes slashed .426/.485/.672 with 10 2Bs.

On the mound, no one really scares you, but I’d keep my eye on #50 Sr. LHP Mason Hazelwood (2-1, 1.64 ERA), as we always have a tough time with crafty lefties.

Confidence Level: High.


In the coming weeks, I will give you position previews, position battles, rotation battles, and open the pre-season mail bag.

Two weeks until we kick things off. Let’s do this.