Tuesday 3/15 vs. The University of Michigan Fightin’ Hugh Jackmen 6:00pm CT on SEC Network
2021 Record: 27-19 (27-17 Big 10).
2022: Record: 8-7. Erik Bakich has opted to challenge his 2022 squad of Hugh Jackmen, beginning the season with a quick tourney against Big XII foes Texas Tech (L, 6-7), Kansas State (W, 10-2), and Oklahoma (L, 1-6) at the State Farm College Baseball Showdown in Arlington, TX. It would have been more interesting had they faced the thunderous lineup of the Arizona Wildcats, or even the Auburn War Tigers, but it was not to be. Of those three teams, Texas Tech (14-3) is a top 25 team that should see postseason play, and possibly host a Regional; Kansas State is an average to below average Big XII team (7-7); and I just went to see OU yesterday (9-5), and can confirm they’re nothing special. They’re an average Big XII team this year, in a conference that’s top heavy, but sags in the middle. They’ve got some okay starting pitching, but can’t hit worth a damn.
Beyond that opening series, they played another weekend tourney—the Keith Leclair Classic, and no, I’ve never heard of it, either—beating a pretty good Maryland (12-2) team 7-4, but then losing 8-10 and 5-6 to ECU (9-7) and the Indiana State Fightin’ Larry Bird’s Hideous Mustaches (7-6), respectively.
They also challenged themselves with a three game slate against Louisville this weekend in the midst of a snowstorm. They lost game one 3-5, won game two 16-7, and lost game three 1-13 to drop the series.
Long story short, they seem to be the type of team that can hang with top competition, but not the type of team who is themselves top competition this year. It should be a good game,
Player to Watch: #15 Jr. IF/OF Clark “Elliott Clark” Elliott (.362/.479/.672). Not only is he a strong average and OPB guy, but his power numbers have been more than respectable thus far—with 7 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, and 16 RBI. He’s also swiped 3 bags in 3 attempts, so it’s best to keep him off the base paths. Those numbers are similar to Vanderbilt RF Spencer “Dr. Jones” Jones (.360/.476/.620 with 7 2B, 2 HR, 12 RBI, and 5-5 steals), to give you some context regarding how well Elliott has hit the ball this season thus far.
Anchor of Gold Tiger Beat Hottest Pitcher: I’m honestly not sure what to make of their pitching staff or their odd starting pitching decisions this year, so I’ll just point to the strangest one: #39 So. LHP Connor “Hot Lips” O’Halloran (1-2, 3.37 ERA, with 5 starts and 18 & 2⁄3 IP). Hopefully you can see the oddity (I’ve helped by making it bold). Though they’ve only played 15 games, and this season is only 4 weeks long, the Ontario Lefty has started 5 of them. Beyond that, he’s only averaging 3 & 2⁄3 IP per start. What to make of that? No idea. He started the first two Sunday games (against OU and FIU), then started a Wednesday game against Florida Atlantic (though he only tossed one inning that game), then Saturday against ECU, and finally, this past Friday against Louisville. Is Bakich trying to blow out his arm? I mean... maybe? As such, with the chaotic manager’s decisions, I can’t rule him out for Tuesday’s game, even though he threw 4 IP Friday against Louisville in the back end of a double header which was then finished on Sunday (again, there was a snowstorm in this game).
Confidence Level: High. Though Michigan will be the toughest competition we’ve faced since opening with the Okie Pokes, we’ve got both Devin Futrell and Christian Little fully rested for this one.
On the Mound
Tuesday @ 6:00pm CT on SECN
Vanderbilt #95 Fr. LHP Devin “The Future” Futrell (3-0, 0.00 ERA)
vs. Michigan #35 Sr. LHP Walker “Texas” Cleveland (1-0, 5.68 ERA)
1 cf 51 Enrique Bradfield Jr L .283
2 3b 11 Davis Diaz R .459
3 rf 34 Spencer Jones L .360
4 dh 12 Dominic Keegan R .442
5 1b 39 Gavin Casas L .409
6 c 16 Jack Bulger R .265
7 ss 9 Carter Young B .255
8 2b 6 Tate Kolwyck R .315
9 lf 1 Matthew Polk R .444
See you in the comments.