In a very, very impressive tourney performance, Georgia Tech was clearly better than a very hot, but young, Vandy team. The Yellow Jackets are an on-base machine, and played a complete tournament. If you've followed the Atlanta blog, you don't have to guess what position player came in to finish the last two outs in the ninth.
Tech will play the winner of the Lexington Regional in Atlanta next weekend, where they'll play either Charleston or Kentucky. UK and Tech would be an interesting matchup, though the 'Cats are losing to Charleston at the moment. Both teams are loaded with power, but Tech fields better and has more talented arms, and having seen both teams play several games, I'd like Tech's chances.
Watch out for Vanderbilt next year. Every position player in the VU lineup tonight was either a freshman or sophomore. VU's top six hitters combined for less than 50 at-bats a year ago, and with further development of young stud arms like David Price, Josh Zeid, and Casey Weathers, the 'Dores could make a serious run at Omaha next year and should be a preseason top-15 squad.
Vanderbilt's sophomore Alex Feinberg just hit the first homer of his career in the eighth, and Pedro Alvarez hit a rope out of the park to right center. That's three homers for Vandy, but unfortunately for the 'Dores, all came with the bases empty.
Tech 8, Vandy 3 heading to the bottom of the eighth.
Matt Wieters just homered to right-center on a 2-2 pitch. For the record, Wieters has three homers, has reached base 14 of 15 times, and, for good measure, saved Tech's opening-game win against Stetson.
Has a baseball player ever had a better series than this guy?
Vandy reliever Tyler Rhoden came on in relief of Cody Crowell, who left two on base in the sixth with one out. Rhoden promptly threw nine consecutive balls, forcing in a run, before getting a fly out to left that scored Tech's sixth run.
The line through six complete: Tech with 6 runs, 10 hits, and 11 left on, Vandy 1-3-2.
Dominic de la Osa just hit a shot near the scoreboard in left-center, a solo blast. Vanderbilt now trails Georgia Tech 4-1. Just one other hit for the Commodores so far, who aren't making Ryan Turner work very hard. Turner threw only 42 pitches through the first four innings. Meanwhile, VU's Cody Crowell has thrown 82 through four.
It's interesting to watch the contrasting offensive philosophies of Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech. The free-swinging Commodores believe that the first pitch they'll see is often the best, and go up hacking. This has paid off for Vandy a lot of the year, but tonight, it's done nothing for them as the 'Dores have just one baserunner and no runs through four innings.
By contrast, Tech is watching a lot of pitches from Cody Crowell. The 'Jackets have but one run, but have made Vandy's Crowell, who looks sharp, throw 56 pitches through three.
Matt Wieters' tourney performance is probably as good as anyone's in any regional so far. The Georgia Tech catcher just drilled Cody Crowell's 2-1 pitch over the wall in right center to put the 'Jackets up 1-0. Wieters has now reached base eight consecutive times, and picked up a save over Stetson yesterday.
Tech still hitting, a man on first, two out in the third. Now Crowell hits Luke Murton, so two are on with two out.
Facing hot-hitting Michael Fisher with one out and the bases loaded in the second, Vandy's Cody Crowell got exactly what he wanted: an easy grounder back to the mound. Crowell calmly fielded Fisher's tapper, soft-tossed home to Shea Robin for a force, then Robin made a nice throw to first to nip Fisher.
Still no score from Atlanta, heading to the top of the third.
Vandy's Shea Robin hit a ball to deep right that, in any other game of the tourney, would have easily left the yard. Instead, Tech's Wally Crancer settled in and caught the ball on the back of the track. Looks like this will play like more or a neutral park tonight. After 1 1/2, no score between the Commodores and the 'Jackets.
The coaches are meeting at home, the rain has stopped the lights are on, and we're finally about to get the title game between Vandy and Georgia Tech underway. Visiting Vandy throws Cody Crowell against Tech's Ryan Turner.
After a couple hours of rain and lightning delays, we are HOPEFUL that baseball will be played at 7:10 Eastern. It's still overcast, but the infield is dru and the teams are on the field taking warm-ups.
If Georgia Tech wins, they're the Atlanta champs; if Vanderbilt prevails, we'll play at 3 Eastern tomorrow.
The tarp is on the field, but the rain is stopping. In any event, Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech likely won't start any time in the next few minutes. I think the storms are passing through quickly based on what I heard in the press box, but I'll keep you posted....
The Commodore bullpen has been unpredictable, but hard-throwing Casey Weathers saved the day for Vandy. Weathers pitched a scoreless ninth, striking out one and getting Adam Abraham to pop out with two away.
Vandy advances to play Georgia Tech in a rematch of yesterday's game in an hour.
Michigan pulled closer as Vandy reliever Casey Weathers gave up an unearned run in the bottom of the eighth. Vandy went 1-2-3 in the ninth, and the Wolverines will bring their #2, 3, and 4 hitters to the plate in the ninth trailing 5-4.
Vanderbilt's Ryan Davis hit just two home runs in the regular season, but has added two against Michigan here in the Atlanta Regional. Davis just hit reliever Adam Abraham's 2-2 pitch a good 50 feet over the right-center field fence, extending VU's lead to 5-3.
After Vandy blew a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth, Alex Feinberg led off with a double to the gap in left-center. With an 0-1 count to Brad French, Chris Fetter's wild pitch richocheted off catcher Jeff Kunkel's shin and trickled towards the dugout. Kunkel sprinted towards the UM dugout to prevent the ball from touching the railing as Macias took third, but a sliding Kunkel couldn't get there in time, and the umpire awarded Macias home due to ground rules.
Vandy's David Macias added a one-out double and stands at second as Ali Hussein relieves Fetter. It's now three apiece.
Nate Recknagel hit a homer to lead off the sixth, followed by Jeff Kunkel's single. Adam Abraham flied out to the warning track in right-center, then Doug Pickens hit one the other way to right-center that got up in the jet stream and barely left the yard. 3-2 Michigan, as Vandy brings in Nick Christiani for Ty Davis, who'd been brilliant until the sixth.
Vanderbilt's Ty Davis is pitching perhaps the best game of his life. Davis has struck out six Michigan hitters through five innings, using 67 pitches. Davis has retired the last seven hitters, and has thrown a beautiful change-up to keep UM hitters off-balance all day.
Vandy 2, Michigan 0 after 5. Vandy with one on, one out in the sixth.
Vandy freshman Pedro Alvarez extended his single-season school record with his 21st homer (his second of the tourney), one pitch after looking awful on an off-speed pitch that got by catcher Jeff Kunkel and scored David Macias. He hit it in the breeze that's been blowing out to right all weekend, but that ball was going out with or without a wind.
2-0 Vandy, Commodores batting with two out in the third.
The Yellow Jackets beat Vandy in every facet of the game, victorious 7-3 on Saturday night. The game ended when VU's Pedro Alvarez knocked second baseman Mike Trapani down with a one-hopper, but recovered in time to throw Alvarez out at first.
At 5 p.m. Eastern tomorrow,Tech will play the winner of tomorrow's 1 p.m. Michigan-Vandy contest.
In a matchup of two teams that were hot coming to Atlanta, Georgia Tech has gotten the better of Vanderbilt all evening. Tech has worked the Vandy staff over for 11 hits and seven walks in a lineup loaded with both power and on-base threats.
The Commodores simply aren't taking enough pitches, and are not able to drive the ones they get. The two defensive miscues in the seventh also hurt the 'Dores.
Tech looks to be in complete control headed to the bottom of the eighth.
After cutting a Georgia Tech lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the sixth, the Commodores shot themselves in the foot in the top of the seventh. With runners at first and second and Jeff Kindel at the plate, VU's David Macias lost a fly ball in the lights. One run scored, and one batter later, reliever Steven Shao threw a wild pitch to strike out Wes Hodges, scoring Luke Murton from third.
Vandy's Shea Robin led off the bottom of the inning with a double as the 'Dores attempt a comeback.
Vandy's Dominic de la Osa blistered a shot to the gap in deep left-center with Ryan Flaherty on second, but Georgia Tech's Steven Blackwood, filling in for injured Danny Payne, made a terrific catch on the warning track with his back to the plate.
After doing nothing all game, the Vanderbilt offense is finally breaking through. Ryan Flaherty just doubled in Pedro Alvarez and David Macias with one out in the ninth. The Commodores now have two hits.
Vanderbilt's David Macias just hit a one-out double in the sixth to break up Lee Hyde's no-hitter, and Pedro Alvarez now reached on an error. Hyde has fanned four and walked just one. First and third, one down for Vandy.
This has to be the day of Michael Fisher's life. Earlier in the day, the Georgia Tech shortstop hit a grand-slam homer--the first of his career--in helping the Yellow Jackets beat Stetson, 7-5.
In the nightcap, Fisher already has three hits, and just knocked in two runs with that third hit, a single to center scoring Jeff Kindel and Nick Scherer (pinch-running for DH Wes Hodges). Tech now has a 5-0 lead over Vanderbilt through 5 1/2.
Lee Hyde hasn't been dominating, but he's been effective. So far, he's given up just one baserunner--a first-inning walk to Pedro Alvarez--and set Vandy down since, with only David Macias reaching on first baseman Luke Murton's error.
Hyde has thrown only 49 pitches. In the fifth, he threw just six to retire the Commodores.
David Price faced the minimum in the third and fourth, and got Steven Blackwood swinging to start the fourth, though as I write, Matt Wieters has singled to center with one out. Tech's Lee Hyde is no-hitting Vandy after four complete.
Ken McQueen's strike zone has not been kind to Vandy lefty David Price. Georgia Tech loaded the bases with a single, a walk, and a single, and then Price walked Steven Blackwood and Matt Wieters to force in two more runs. Price had Wieters 0-2 before the free pass.
Price then faced Whit Robins, who struck out on a 1-2 pitch when he couldn't check his swing on an outside pitch.
Georgia Tech leads 3-1 after 1 1/2. Price has thrown 45 pitches (by my count) through two innings, and Vanderbilt definitely does not want to have to go to a skaky bullpen early.
Luke Murton just went opposite-field off David Price, got it up in the wind, and the ball got out of Russ Chandler Stadium in no time, barely clearing the fence in right. 1-0 Tech, as Lee Hyde walked Pedro Alvarez in the first but got out of the jam.
Right-handed hitter Eric Rose just hit one the opposite way to right, and--stop me if you've heard this before--up into the breeze in right and out of the park. Rose's blast scored two, and put Michigan up 4-1. In most any other park on any other day, the ball probably wouldn't have made it to the warning track.
Michigan is pitching Paul Hammond, who's normally UM's #1 starter. UM started Zach Putnam yesterday against Vandy instead.
After Stetson scored five in the eighth to cut Georgia Tech's lead to two, Tech catcher Andrew Wieters--who hit a two-run homer in the first--came on for the save in the ninth. Wieters gave up a leadoff double and had runners at the corners with two out, but got out of the inning in order to preserve the 7-5 win.
After leading this game 7-0, things are quickly falling apart for Georgia Tech in the eighth. The Jackets have made two errors, but now relever Brad Rulon comes on and gets cleanup hitter Chris Johnson on a called strike on a very questionable call by home plate umpire Terry Barrman..
7-5 Jackets, as we head to the bottom of the eighth.
After some early-inning trouble, Georgia Tech starter Blake Wood has found his groove. Wood has pitched seven scoreless innings, striking out four and giving up just six hits, most early. Wood has thrown 100 pitches and Tech still leads, 7-0.
Georgia Tech's Michael Fisher, their left-handed hitting shortstop and #9 hitter, got a fly ball into the strong wind blowing out to right with the bases loaded in the third. As a result, the ball easily carried the wall in right, giving Tech a 7-0 lead.
Stetson loaded the bases with no one out in the first, loaded them again with one out in the second, and then got the leadoff man on in the third, but the Hatters have failed to score. Tech maintains a 2-0 lead.
After loading the bases with no outs, Georgia Tech's Blake Wood struck out .371 hitter Chris Johnson, then got a fly ball from #5 hitter Brian Pruitt to left fielder Jeff Kindel. Kindel nailed Shane Jordan at the plate as he tagged to score, leaving it scoreless as we head to the bottom of the inning.
It's still overcast here in Atlanta with intermittent rain and lightning.
There is a possibility that another front may move through. Around 8:15, tournament officials will attempt to make a guess as to when Tech and Stetson will play tonight. They're going to make every effort to get this one in.
Fans have been removed from the stands in Atlanta, where the rain has stopped but the thunder and lightning haven't. More storms appear to be headed this way, this after I espoused a positive weather forecast earlier in the day....
After thunderstorms missed Atlanta all afternoon, the bottom has dropped out here in Atlanta. The grounds crew covered home and the mound, but the rain came so quickly that the rest of the infield remains uncovered.
Scheduled start time for Georgia Tech and Stetson was 7 p.m. Eastern.
With balls in the air flying out of Russ Chandler field, Vandy's Matt Buschmann is doing a good job of getting ahead of hitters and staying down in the zone. Buschmann just threw his 121st pitch to end the eighth with no runs after walking Nate Recknagel and giving up a single to Jeff Kunkel to lead off the inning.
Nick Christiani has been warming up in the 'pen for Vandy. The 'Dores have had serious bullpen troubles of late, so it will be interesting to see how Vandy Coach Tim Corbin approaches the ninth.
Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year Pedro Alvarez just smashed his 20th homer of the year to right on the first pitch of the inning from Drew Taylor. With the blast, Alvarez broke the previous school record of 19. Alvarez is an amazing hitter with tremendous power, and will be a high pick in the 2008 MLB draft. He got fooled on the pitch for a split-second, but just flipped his wrists and got one up into a breeze in right-center.
As I write, Vandy catcher Brian Hernandez has just blasted a shot off the scoreboard in left-center.
Vandy starter Matt Buschmann has stayed ahead in the count for most of the afternoon, but then has been content to nibble the corners. This has resulted in a number of six-to-seven-pitch at-bats, and Buschmann has, by my count, thrown 75 pitches through five innings. Vandy SID Thomas Samuel has Buschmann with 79.
Michigan's Drew Taylor, on in relief of Zach Putnam (removed with an undisclosed injury in second) has thrown 23 pitches through 2 1/3 innings.
Atlanta: Michigan's Putnam out in second with injury
Michigan starter Zach Putnam left the game with two outs in the second. Putnam was replaced with a 1-0 count to Vandy's Ryan Flaherty and briefly held his right forearm, though it appeared that the coaching staff might be checking out a blister. He was relieved by Drew Taylor, who walked Flaherty but got an inning-ending pop-up from VU catcher Brian Hernandez with the bases loaded.
Earlier in the inning, Putnam gave up a leadoff single to Vandy DH Shea Robin, and Ryan Davis hit a two-run homer to center for a 3-1 Vandy lead that stands as we head to the third.
With Michigan freshman pitcher Zach Putnam on the mound, Vanderbilt's Tim Corbin decided to play "small-ball" early after Putnam walked David Macias and Pedro Alvarez to start the game. Corbin had #3 hitter Ryan Flaherty putting down a sacrifice bunt, advancing the runners to third. Brian Hernandez hit a ground ball to short on the next pitch, and the Commodores had a 1-0 lead.
Interestingly enough, Putnam was one of Corbin's top recruiting targets two years ago. Putnam went to high school directly across from the Michigan campus, and chose to stay home rather than travel to Nashville. He posted a 6-1 record with a 2.10 ERA as a true freshman.