Dominic de la Osa grounded out to short on Adam Powers' first pitch to start the 10th.
Pedro Alvarez then a ball to about as deep center as one can hit it and not have it go out, and Derek Van Buskirk made a clutch catch for out No. 2. I couldn't tell if the ball was headed out or not, and the second-base umpire hesitated for a moment to make the call as Van Buskirk didn't come down with it and display it immediately.
Ryan Flaherty then lined a 1-2 pitch through the left side of the infield for a two-out baserunner.
Matt Meingasner watched two balls, then another, then a strike, then tapped a check swing back to pitcher Powers, and Michigan is going crazy in the middle of the field.
And hats off to them. They deserve it.
And Vanderbilt, the No. 1 seed, has been knocked out of the field.
NASHVILLE: One last chance for Vandy to stay alive
Brett Jacobson has gotten Vandy out of the 10th without further damage, and Vandy will send the exact three guys it wants: Dominic de la Osa, Pedro Alvarez and Ryan Flaherty, to the plate in the bottom of the inning.
It's 4-3 Michigan, as the crowd is trying to shake off the Alan Oaks bomb and is making noise between innings.
Shea Robin hit a routine ground ball to Jason Christian at second, and Christian, who's been great at short all tourney, just gagged by throwing the ball about six feet wide at first giving Vandy a leadoff man at first.
Brad French popped a bunt foul, then fouled off another bunt to get down 0-2. And with two strikes, he laid down a perfect bunt to advance Robin to second.
But David Macias popped to second, and Alex Feinberg lined to center, so it's still tied.
And David Price takes the mound for one more inning, and he'll see the No. 3-5 UM hitters.
Vandy's David Price, on in relief of Casey Weathers with a man on and none out in the ninth, gave up a sacrifice bunt for an out that advanced Kevin Cislo to second, then struck out Jason Christian and Brad Roblin on a grand total of six pitches to keep the game tied.
Price is screaming as he comes off the mound, and so's the crowd.
For the record, the Commodores have now gotten an inning out of a Friday starter, a Saturday starter, a Sunday starter and a closer who'd already pitched twice.
Tim Corbin said he'd find a way to piece-meal this game together. I guess he did.
And to top it off, freshman Mark Lamm--who would burn a redshirt year--is warming up in the 'pen.
Shea Robin, Brad French and David Macias due up in the ninth of a three-all game here.
Baseball just doesn't get much more dramatic than this.
After getting down 0-2, Matt Meingasner fouled off three pitches, took two balls and lined a single to center, scoring the tying run here with two outs in the eighth.
Parker Hanks then got down 0-2, watched a ball, then grounded out to second.
But Vandy is alive, closer Casey Weathers will be asked to go another inning, and he'll try to get the No. 8, 9 and 1 hitters for the Wolverines out as Vandy will also have those hitters up in the ninth.
Chris Fetter walked David Macias to lead off the inning, which has the crowd at Hawkins Field roaring. UM coach Rich Maloney wasted no time in pulling Fetter for third baseman Adam Abraham as Alex Feinberg took ball one.
Maloney's effort may have been in part to quiet the crowd, but it may have just given the Vandy fans time to think, as they break out into the deafening "black/gold" cheer instead.
With a man on first and one out, Doug Pickens hit a scorcher... but right at second baseman Alex Feinberg for an easy 4-3 double play to end the top of the eighth.
That has the Vanderbilt crowd energized for a few minutes as "Sweet Caroline" plays over the P.A. It's been like a morgue here the last couple of innings, as the realization that a 54-12 record and a national No. 1 seed could be going down in flames.
Vandy sends 1-3 hitters Macias, Feinberg and de la Osa out to start the eighth.
Michigan starter Chris Fetter still has the Commodores tied up in knots. He's struck out just three, but has kept Vandy hitters off-balance with his soft-tossing ways, getting Commodore hitters to pop up or hit harmless ground balls all night.
The Commodores hit Fetter hard in the fourth, when they had him on the ropes after Pedro Alvarez homered and Ryan Flaherty and Matt Meingasner followed with solid singles. But Flaherty got picked off third, and Fetter got a couple of ground balls to get out of the inning.
Vandy's Casey Weathers is on for his second inning of relief, and looks tough tonight. But pitching's not the issue, as the top of the Commodore order will come up in the eighth and the 'Dores six outs from elimination.
Weathers strikes out leadoff man Adam Abraham, and it's 3-1 Michigan with one out in the top of the eighth.
a team's No. 5 hitter swings and misses at stuff you're throwing in the dirt, and that's how nasty Vandy reliever Cody Crowell's slider is tonight.
Crowell was lit up by Austin Peay yesterday, but evidently has it going tonight. Crowell inherited Tyler Rhoden's first-and-third, no-out jam in the fifth with Michigan's No. 4-6 hitters coming up. He struck out Zach Putnam and Adam Abraham, then got a harmless fly ball to left to retire Doug Pickens.
So, the Commodores still trail 3-1, but Crowell's fantastic job keeps them in the game for now.
NASHVILLE: It's not how hard, it's where you hit it
With a runner on first and none out, Brad Roblin hit a ball off the dirt area in front of the plate that softly fell over third baseman Pedro Alvarez's head and rolled down the line in left. I didn't see what happened when the ball got into the corner, as that view is obstructed from the press box, but Matt Meingasner must have had some trouble with it, as it seemed as if it took forever for him to field it.
In the meantime, Jason Christian scored from first.
Now, Nate Recknagel lines a single to left, and Tyler Rhoden, who's gone four-plus innings, is done after giving up seven singles, a homer and that double.
First and third for Michigan, who leads Vandy 3-1 with no outs in the top of the fourth.
Rhoden's replacement will be lefty Cody Crowell, who was knocked out early yesterday in a first-game start against Austin Peay.
With a .303 average against and a fastball that's measured with a sundial and a release point that comes in low, I was wondering if the Commodores, who had one baserunner the first time up, might hit him better.
Sure enough, four of the first seven hitters have hits off Fetter the second time around.
And now, Vandy's awful baserunning continues, as on Fetter's fake-to-first, spin-to-third move works as Ryan Flaherty gets caught in a rundown.
Two away, a man at second for Vandy in the bottom of the fourth.
I had just commented to the Nashville City Paper's Brett Hait that Michigan's Chris Fetter might be the kind of pitcher that gives Dominic de la Osa and Pedro Alvarez fits because his stuff doesn't look as if it breaks 75 mph.
Immediately afterwards, Alvarez, a lefty, hit a ball about 410 feet over the wall about 30 feet to the left of dead-center, and the Commodores have pulled within a run.
Ryan Flaherty followed with a single to left to extend his hitting streak to 35 games, one shy of the SEC record.
Now, Matt Meingasner has blooped a single to right, so first and second now with nobody out.
The crowd's into it now, and Vandy starters Cody Crowell and Mike Minor are warming up in the 'pen if Rhoden runs into trouble.
Michigan's Nate Recknagel just hit a towering home run on to Memorial Gym over the 35-foot wall in left, putting Michigan up 2-0 in the top of the third with one out.
Recknagel's the guy whose bases-loaded double in the Saturday night meeting between the two teams provided the bulk of the offense in Michigan's 4-3 win over Vandy.
Tyler Rhoden must have been rattled, as he threw two straight balls before Shea Robin went out to speak with him. Rhoden then got two strikes, two foul balls, and a third that was caught in foul territory, so two are away now.
Michigan 2, Vandy 0 in the championship game here in Nashville, top of the third.
A leadoff single by Adam Abraham, a one-out single by Derek Van Buskirk, and a check-swing single by Kevin Cislo that hugged the third base line loaded the bases for Michigan, and Eric Rose flied out to left to produce the game's first run.
Rhoden then wild-pitched runners to second and third, then Jason Christian bounced a high hopper to first that Brad French struggled with the sun to field, then grabbed, then jogged to the bag for the third out.
Those are the two speeds Michigan's Chris Fetter showed in the first to the Vanderbilt lineup, however, it was very effective as the righty gave up just a bunt single to Dominic de la Osa, two pop-ups and a harmless ground-out to second.
In fact, it's not a bad way to pitch this Vandy lineup at all, as they've had some some trouble against off-speed stuff this year.
I don't think I've ever seen a 6-foot-8 guy show less power in an inning than what Fetter just showed.
The jitters may have gotten the best of Vandy's Tyler Rhoden to start the first, but he settled down nicely thereafter.
After going 3-0 to leadoff man Jason Christian, Rhoden got him on a 3-2 ground-out to first where Rhoden covered the tag after it looked like Brad French nearly lost the hopping baseball in the sun (yes, that's right: there's a brutal sun right behind the press box here).
He then struck out Brad Roblin on three pitches, and after Nate Recknagel's first-pitch single up the middle, got Zach Putnam to fly to right.
Boots Randolph played a superb national anthem on the saxophone here in Music City, and Vanderbilt and Michigan are moments away from starting the title game of the Nashville Regional. Vanderbilt, the home team, takes the field as the bleachers and the stands alternate the "black/gold" cheer.
It's righty Tyler Rhoden (4-0, 5.66) on the mound for Vandy against righty Chris Fetter (6-3, 4.71). Both teams have seven right-handed hitters in the lineup.
It should be Tyler Rhoden (4-0, 5.66) for Vandy to face Michigan's Chris Fetter (6-3, 4.71).
However, there's a story behind the numbers. The seldom-used Rhoden pitched Vandy to the SEC Tournament title game last weekend against Arkansas, while Fetter was the Big Ten ERA champion (2.22) last year.
Vandy's got closer Casey Weathers and walk-on Jason Cunningham, who pitched five shutout innings in a key spot against Ole Miss in last week's tourney, available. UM' has closer Adam Abraham and Michael Powers in reserve.
It should be a classic at Hawkins Field tomorrow night between two teams who can really hit the ball.
Interestingly, Vandy is now a game from a Super Regional without an extra-base hit from all-American Pedro Alvarez.
Vandy's Ryan Davis laid down a nice bunt on a squeeze against Michigan's Alan Oaks, who'd pitched just a third of an inning this year. A run scored, and although Shea Robin flied out to deep center to end the inning, the Commodores now just need to hold a five-run lead to get a second chance against Michigan tomorrow night.
And the way Brett Jacobson is dealing, holding the Wolverines scoreless since entering with no outs in the fourth, those chances look pretty good.
Vandy 10, Michigan 5, Wolverines sending the No. 4-6 hitters to the plate in the 8th.
With a man on first and no outs, and No. 5 hitter Ryan Flaherty having gotten hits in seven of his last eight at-bats and riding a 34-game hitting streak, Flaherty laid down a bunt against Michigan's Eric Katzman.
Hopefully, I don't have to explain why that's a bad play. To make it worse, Pedro Alvarez was thrown out at second.
And now, Matt Meingasner walks to get that all-important runner advanced.
NASHVILLE: Jacobson get it done, with help from an umpire
Vanderbilt needed Brett Jacobson to pitch tomorrow night, but in a pinch here on Saturday, will take what they can get now.
With no outs and two on, Jacobson got No. 3 hitter Nate Recknagel to pop to left for out one. Then, on a 2-2 pitch, Zach Putnam hit into what was ruled a 6-4-3 double play, though replays showed Putnam barely beat the throw at first. Putnam reacted with disbelief when the call was made, and for good reason.
Vandy 9, Michigan 5, five complete here at Hawkins Field.
Vandy's Tim Corbin has pulled Nick Christiani with nobody out in the bottom of the fifth after the sophomore right-hander gave up an infield single on a ball to deep short.
Now, right-hander Brett Jacobson--who's pitched well of late--is on for Vandy. This is a huge blow against the Commodores, as Jacobson would have been the likely starter tomorrow if Vandy can hold on and win tonight.
Earlier in the evening, I believe I referred to the Vanderbilt first baseman as "the light-hitting Brad French," which is fair since he's slugging .335 in 158 at-bats.
Well, the light-hitting Brad French has just gone the other way and into the bleachers just to the right of the 375 sign, giving Vanderbilt a 9-2 lead.
French is a great story: A local kid who went to the state's best high school (Montgomery Bell Academy) just two miles down the road from Vandy, and despite growing up as a Tennessee fan, begged Vandy's Tim Corbin for a scholarship. Corbin told French he didn't think he was good enough to play at Vandy, but later changed his mind.
The rest is history; French has started since the latter part of last season, and although his bat is often lacking, he's terrific with the glove and Corbin likes the example he sets for teammates by playing through all kinds of pain, and even mononucleosis earlier this year.
9-2 Vandy, Commodores with a man on second and two outs in the top of the fifth.
NASHVILLE: "Hey, my tickets aren't in the splash section!"
If this were Sea World, they'd paint protective lines around the box seats right in front of the press box... this guy was walking up the stairs to his seat, doing a little shimmying to some John Cougar Mellencamp music on his way to his seat.
Unfortunately, he got a little too much into showing off for the two girls right in front of him, stubbed his toe, and his drink went flying all over both of them. But they seemed to take it pretty well, and as a bonus, it looks like he kept his tater tots.
The Commodores make a little splash of their own, as Matt Meingasner rips a 1-1 single to left to give Vandy a man on to lead off the fifth.
7-2, Vanderbilt leads here as the game's 1:35 old and we're starting the top of the fifth.
Vanderbilt, who once struggled to draw 100 people to a baseball game before Tim Corbin arrived, is passing the test for fan support with flying colors in the Commodores' first regional here this weekend.
The 2,200-seat Hawkins Field has been expanded to 3,700, courtesy of some bleachers along the right-field line, some behind the fence in right, and some patio seating in front of the basketball arena in left-center. And it's the fans in the outfield bleachers in right who are giving us all laughs between innings.
The Commodore bench and relievers have this routine between innings--probably started when it was cold for pretty much the entire first two months of the year, which included a mid-April freeze--whereby they go down the foul lines in the outfield, do some calisthenics and jump around and just generally have a good time.
Some writers have tried to make a big deal about it, saying it's showing up the opposition, which is ridiculous because there's no intent to show off or show disrespect; it's just a way for players to keep their muscles and minds loose and stay in the game as they circle around one player who leads the rituals.
Anyway... the fans in right have taken to mimicking EVERY little action the players do, especially those in the front rows, as they jump, wave hands, stretch, or do whatever. Last inning, just about the whole stands was into the act--one guy in the front, a little too much into the act as he took a high hop and almost teetered on the edge of the fence in front of the fence of the bleachers for a second.
Now, the fans are trying to do the wave. Many questioned how well Vandy would support a regional, and Commodore fans have passed the test both in terms of sellout numbers and crowd spirit.
Vanderbilt put up seven runs in the second against Michigan courtesy of an error and six hits. The crowd here for Vandy's first regional is really getting into the game, and creating quite an atmosphere. More on that later.
Meanwhile, Michigan has back-to-back doubles, and has put up a run on Vandy's Nick Christiani in two pitches, so it's now 7-1.
Tim Corbin said his team was pressing last night in a 4-3 loss to Michigan. They're not pressing any more. It's 4-0 Vandy with no outs in the second, as Michigan's Andrew Hess has now been pulled for Ben Jenzen.
Even light-hitting Brad French has gotten in the act, lining a pitch the other way to right-center to knock in a pair of runs.
First and third, no outs, top of the order up for Vandy in the second.
After going 5-5 in the first game, Ryan Flaherty extended his school-record hitting streak to 34 games here with a second-inning single, putting Pedro Alvarez on second with no outs. A wild pitch moved them both up a base.
He's now two games shy of the SEC mark for hitting streaks, held by Alabama's Andy Phillips.
Flaherty just missed a homer earlier in the at-bat, lining a pitch a mile over the wall in right, but about seven or eight feet foul.
Vandy's Nick Christiani has filthy movement on his pitches, but because of that, often has trouble controlling them (66 IP, 34 BB), and especially early in games, where it seems to take him until the third or fourth inning to get going.
Not tonight. Christiani struck leadoff hitter Jason Christian out on three pitches, and gave up a single to Brad Roblin, but then the right-hander picked him off. It looked like he got a strikeout on a 2-2 pitch to Nate Recknagel, but got squeezed, and after Recknagel fouled off a 3-2 pitch, Christiani got an easy grounder to Ryan Flaherty at short to end the inning.
No score between Vandy and Michigan after one complete.
Vandy's Michigan problem continues, as the Commodores got Alex Feinberg on with a one-out walk, then Dominic de la Osa lined a ball the other way near the first base line... but right at Nate Recknagel, who scooped, fired to short, then took the return throw to end the inning.
I thought de la Osa was out watching it live, but after seeing the replay, I'm not so sure.
Vanderbilt will be the visiting team in its own park, sending Nick Christiani (5-3, 3.68) to the hill against Michigan's Andrew Hess (7-1, 3.76).
The Oak Ridge Boys sung the national anthem, Hess is on the hill taking warmup tosses, and there's a buzz of nervous excitement in the park as the Commodores try to stave off elimination against Michigan, who beat them 4-3 last night.
With runners on the corners and two outs and a3-0 count, Vandy's Pedro Alvarez took a swing at a 3-0 pitch which wound up in the glove of Rafael Hill in deep center. APSU's David Vicini, who threw the pitch, has not exactly looked sharp in relief for the Governors, but got out of that inning giving up just a run.
So, it's now 8-5 Vandy, going to the bottom of the fourth.
Earlier in the inning, Vandy's Dominic de la Osa knocked in a run with a groundout, then stole second. That put de la Osa in the rare 20/20 club (homers/steals).
Vandy needed Cody Crowell to eat some innings today, but the junior lefty has failed in doing that.
Crowell has just given up his fifth double in 3 2/3 innings today, that one also scoring a run and cutting the Vandy lead to 7-5 as Rafael Hill lines one to the gap in left-center to score Will Hogue, who also doubled. Crowell also gave up a homer earlier in the day.
Ty Davis is in, which really hurts Vandy as Davis was likely to be the starter tonight against Michigan IF Vandy can advance this afternoon.
Vandy 7, APSU 5, the Governors have a man on second with two outs in the bottom of the fourth.
Vandy's Ryan Flaherty just lined a single up the middle to extend his hitting streak to 33 games, breaking Warner Jones' old school record which stretched over 2003 and 2004. Flaherty already held the single-season record.
With one out, Matt Meingasner popped to first, so Vandy needs some two-out magic to keep the inning alive.
Austin Peay's Rafael Hill led off with a double to deep center, then with one out, Nashville native Tyler Farrar creamed a home run way out to left center, and now, the Governors have a 2-0 lead over Vandy with one out in the first.
The Commodores have got to be pressing, after losing a heartbreaker last night for only their third loss of the year. Everyone at Hawkins Field was stunned, and the Commodores had better get it together and find the bats in a hurry, or an SEC championship season's going to end without even finishing second in their own regional.
APSU 2, Vandy 0, one out in the bottom of the first.
Michigan brought third baseman/reliever Adam Abraham in to close the ninth. Here's what happened:
David Macias struck out swinging on a 1-2 pitch to lead off.
Alex Feinberg lined out to right.
Dominic de la Osa, who'd struck out his last two times, singled to left on a 1-2 pitch to stay alive.
That brought all-American Pedro Alvarez to the plate, who dinked a single to right in front of a deep outfield on the first pitch to put runners on the corners.
Next came Ryan Flaherty, who earlier extended his hitting streak to 32 games and had a two-single night. Flaherty took the count to 2-1, swung and missed for strike two, then just tipped a pitch to stay alive.
On the next pitch, Abraham fanned Flaherty with some high heat, and the Wolverines advance to the winner's bracket.
Commodore fans, who've seen their team lose just their third game all year at home, are stunned.
Vandy has to fight off pesky Austin Peay to keep its season alive tomorrow at 2.
Vandy's Casey Weathers got the first out on a sacrifice bunt, then watched Dominic de la Osa make a nice play of a liner to right. Weathers then walked Jason Christian on four pitches, and then Kevin Cislo hit an 0-1 pitch to Ryan Flaherty at short that Flaherty dove for, but couldn't get the force at second in time, and Adam Abraham (leadoff single against Brett Jacobson) scored from third.
Weathers got Eric Rose on a strikeout to avoid further damage and end the threat.
Can Vandy, who has pulled one come-from-behind win after another all year, do it again with Nos. 1-3 David Macias, Alex Feinberg and Dominic de la Osa due up in the ninth?
UM's Michael Powers did a nice job of getting Michigan to the ninth without further damage, giving up just a Parker Hanks single that was sandwiched between a strikeout and a ground-out that ended the inning.
So Vandy's Brett Jacobson will see Nos. 5-7, Adam Abraham, Doug PIckens and Derek Van Buskirk in the top of the ninth.
Still tied at 3 at Hawkins Field, 25 minutes past midnight and very few fans have left.
Vanderbilt's magical ride is alive for at least another inning. Matt Meingasner, who struck out last time, just lined a 3-1 pitch over the left field wall to tie the game, scoring Ryan Flaherty, who reached on a fielder's choice that erased Pedro Alvarez at second.
Rivals.com's national baseball writer Kendall Rogers wants credit for that; he had planned to cover a Super Regional next weekend, and said he'd put the reverse-jinx for Vandy this inning by checking into plane flights to Tempe for next weekend.
So Kendall, there's your shout-out. And speaking of shouting, you could cut the tension with a knife here until that at-bat, and the crowd's breathing a loud sigh of relief.
It's just unbelievable how many lives this Commodore team seems to have.
3-3, one out for Vandy in the bottom of the eighth as Michael Powers is on in relief.
Michigan's Mike Wilson has pitched out of trouble once again.
Vanderbilt's Andrew Giobbi had an infield single to lead off the seventh, then took second on David Macias's sac bunt. Alex Feinberg grounded out for out No. 2, then Dominic de la Osa, fed a steady diet of off-speed pitches, struck out on a 3-2 pitch that was either a change or a breaking ball.
Vandy's left nine men on, and Michigan just two. That's the difference, as the Wolverines lead 3-1 with one out in the top of the eighth, as Vandy's Tim Corbin pulls Mike Minor with a man on second in favor of Brett Jacobson.
Michigan's Mike Wilson is doing his best Houdini impersonation tonight, leaving runners stranded all over the diamond tonight as his team leads Vanderbilt 3-1 after six complete innings.
Wilson left two on in each of the second, third and sixth, and one in the fifth. He also survived getting the leadoff man on in each of the first two innings by picking off David Macias and Pedro Alvarez.
Things are getting tense here in Nashville after the Commodores, 32-2 at home this year, are struggling to score runs. Vandy got just two last night--one one a wild pitch, another on an error--in an 11-inning game.
Michigan 3, Vandy 1 with Nos. 6-8 up for the Wolverines, who have a good hitter in every spot of the order, up in the seventh.
With the bases loaded and a 2-2 count, Michigan's Nate Recknagel just lined a double slightly the other way to deep right-center, clearing the bases and putting UM on top 3-1.
Earlier in the inning, UM's Kevin Cislo did an impressive job of hitting, fouling off three two-strike pitches and then getting hit on a 1-2 pitch, setting up Brad Roblin's bunt single to load the bases.
The Commodores are even with Michigan in the hits category at four apiece, but have been unable to take advantage of Mike Wilson's wildness, and have twice gotten the leadoff man picked off.
Minor gets out of the rest of the inning, but Vandy now trails 3-1 heading to the bottom of the sixth.
With one out against Vandy's Mike Minor, catcher Doug Pickens hit a rocket the other way towards the hole between first and second, and second baseman Alex Feinberg got airborne to his right and snared the ball about five feet off the ground as it trailed away from him for one of the three best defensive plays I've seen this year (Feinberg has one of the other two).
And speaking of rockets, part-time DH Parker Hanks just led off the bottom of the fifth with a homer to deep right-center, and Vandy's got a 1-0 lead, though Michigan has since gotten two quick outs.
Hats off to the fans at Hawkins Field tonight for showing up after Vandy's game, scheduled to start at 7:00, was pushed back pending the end of the marathon, rain-delayed 18-7 Austin Peay-Memphis game. So fans didn't know what time this game between Vandy and Michigan would start, and that time wound up being 9:50.
So much to everyone's surprise, the 3,700-seat facility is almost completely full, and keep in mind that this place was only 2,200 seats until this regional. And I'm not even sure how many people may be in the parking garage in right field, since it's pitch-black here.
Vandy's freshman right-hander Mike Minor has shown up, too, giving up just a harmless infield single in three innings of work. However, Commodore fans are waiting for its team's bats, as VU's scored just two runs in 13 innings of this tourney.
If Vanderbilt's got a weakness, it's baserunning. And for the second straight inning, the Commodores have gotten the leadoff man on and had him picked off.
Pedro Alvarez singled sharply up the middle off Michigan lefty Mike Wilson, then Wilson caught him leaning the wrong way just as he did Macias in the first. Neither play was particularly close.
However, Ryan Flaherty followed with a single up the middle, extending his hitting streak to 32 games, which ties Warner Jones' school record. Matt Meingasner followed with a 3-1 walk, making Alvarez's lapse more costly.
So Vandy tries to get something going in a 0-0 game, the homestanding Commodores hitting in the bottom of the second.
That's a headline I have written a lot from Hawkins Field this year.
Vandy's Mike Minor got Michigan 1-2-3 in the first, surviving a scare on a fly ball to deep left from Brad Roblin that was caught on the warning track where the wall juts out in left.
Michigan's Mike WIlson walked David Macias to lead off, but caught Macias leaning the wrong way and picked him off, then struck out Alex Feinberg and got Dominic de la Osa on a weak tapper back to the mound.
Austin Peay has just knocked off Memphis 18-7, and sent the Tigers packing for the three-hour trip west.
The only drama here in the press box for a while was watching the ninth inning of that fantastic San Diego-Minnesota game in which USD, facing elimination, came down from five down in the ninth to tie. Perhaps someone can enlighten us as to what took Minnesota so long to bring it its closer.
Pinch-hitter Tyler Bullock just hit a two-run homer to extend Austin Peay's lead to 18-7 after 7 1/2.
How good do Vandy's David Price and Casey Weathers look after holding this bunch to one run in 11 innings and striking them out 22 times last night? The Governors felt they shouldn't have been a No. 4 seed, and as they stand on the verge of their 40th win, I happen to agree.
You know it's getting ridiculous when a team's No. 9 hitter, who's got one home run all year, hits a bomb about 400 feet to right-center without the aid of wind. That's what Austin Peay's Levi Cheshire just did, scoring the man on base and extending the APSU lead to 11-7.
Memphis's pitching staff is just horrid, and this rain delay, which took away another arm, is not helping.
And now, Jacob Crass singles hard to left. So APSU has another baserunner with one out in the fifth.
After two runs were in, Memphis's Adam Amar just went the opposite way to right, slamming a two-out, two-run homer to pull the Tigers within two of Austin Peay.
It's Amar's third homer of the tourney already after two yesterday, adding to his UM career RBI record.
Kyle Norrid followed with a single for Memphis's ninth hit in nine innings, but Joey Lieberman grounded into a force at second and APSU escaped further damage.
It's 9-7 now, and Vanderbilt fans have to be wondering if they'll play tonight. If this game's not over either due to further rain or a lengthy game by 10:10, the Commodores will play Michigan tomorrow at 10 a.m. As-is, attendance should be markedly hurt tonight with the late start in the Bible Belt with many having early services to attend tomorrow.
With it still raining, tourney officials have decided not to resume the Memphis-APSU game until 7 p.m., originally the starting time for the Vandy-Michigan game. The Commodores and Wolverines will play 50 minutes following the conclusion of that game, but must start before 11 in order to that game not to be moved to tomorrow.
So, check back in here in around three hours for more info.
NASHVILLE: Back come the Governors, and the rain, too
The fourth inning is two-thirds done, and Austin Peay has nine hits and nine runs and men on second and third.
And with second baseman J.B. Gilbert at the plate, a thunderous clap of thunder was heard, and the home plate umpire sent everyone to the dugout before a drop fell.
And two seconds later, the bottom literally dropped out of the sky, as a torrent of large raindrops descended upon Hawkins Field, and it's been pouring now for three or four minutes.
They've covered the home plate and mound areas, and now a group of 23 people are dragging a large tarp over the infield, though it's really too late is it appears there are already small areas of standing water near third.
And just in the time since the game's been called, there have been two huge lightning strikes nearby.
In other words, we won't be playing baseball here in Nashville soon.
Austin Peay 9, Memphis 3, and the rainstorm, which is now so bad that you can barely see the center field wall, is intensifying with a wind that's blowing ripples in the tarp as it suddenly looks like a small hurricane, and what looks like a TV camera cover is blown flush against the backstop net.
Back comes Memphis... in the second, the Tigers have scored three runs, two on Michael Murray's two-out double that missed going over the 35-foot wall in left, and one on Chris Kirkland's single. Now, Bill Moss has just lined to second to end the inning.
It's 6-3 Austin Peay through two complete, and we've already been here for 52 minutes.
NASHVILLE: The beatings shall continue until someone gets an out
J.B. Gilbert doubled, then Will Hogue singled sharply to center to score Austin Peay's sixth run of the inning. Memphis finally go ta break when No. 9 hitter Levi Cheshire grounded hard to second, and the Tigers turned a 4-6-3 double play.
After losing a heartbreaking 2-1 in 11 innings to Vandy last night, it looks as if the Governors are a little steamed.
After being stymied by Vandy's David Price and Casey Weathers last night, Austin Peay has struck early in the first in its elimination game against Memphis.
A Rafael Hill single, a one-out walk to Tyler Farrar, a double steal and a single by Jake Lane scored two runs, and now, APSU's Matt Smith bounced a single between short and third to give the Govs runners on the corners with one out.
Memphis's pitcher today is Ben Grisham, nephew of famous writer John Grisham.
In the post-game press conference, Austin Peay coach Gary McClure said that reliever Ben Wiltshire, whose trouble keeping his balance led to Wiltshire's 11th-inning error that gave Vanderbilt a 2-1 win, was due to a spike that Wiltshire caught either in the grass or the mount.
With Ryan Flaherty on third and two outs, Shea Robin hit a ball back to Wiltshire, who moved towards the first base line to field it. But he stumbled fielding the ball and tapped it to second, where second baseman J.B. Gilbert couldn't make the play in time at first.
In games like last night's, which featured 22 strikeouts from Vandy pitchers David Price and Casey Weathers, it's often the little things that make the difference in a win or loss. Perhaps Vandy was getting a little luck back from the baseball gods after Pedro Alvarez ripped down the line a few batters earlier that more often than not would have been a game-winning double, but instead turned into a 6-3 double play.
Anyway, this afternoon's elimination game between APSU and Memphis will be a contrast in styles; APSU wins with pitching and defense, and Memphis by simply outslugging everyone.
With runners at second and third, reliever Ben Wiltshire threw a wild pitch to move runners up a base.
On a 2-2 pitch, Shea Robin bounced a grounder to Wiltshire, who lost his footing and tipped the ball towards second.
Second baseman J.B. Gilbert couldn't collect the ball in time to get it to first, and Vandy escapes with a 2-1 win in 11, and improves to 32-2 and home. Wiltshire was charged with an error.
You have to feel for the Governors, who played an amazing game and lost a tremendous outing from Shawn Kelley. Even the celebration at Hawkins Field seemed subdued, as Wiltshire collapsed on the mound and lay there in agony after the heartbreak.
It'll be Vandy and Michigan in the winner's bracket tomorrow night, APSU and Memphis at 2 tomorrow in an elimination game.
The right-field stands at Hawkins Field make their debut tonight, and the crowd in it is starting a new tradition: Every time an opponent strikes out, the crowd counts up to the number of strikeouts the Commodore pitching staff has on the night for that moment.
They must be exhausted. David Price fanned 17 Austin Peay hitters, and Casey Weathers, pitching the ninth, struck out the side on 11 pitches which included no foul balls.
Unfortunately for the Vandy hurlers, the Commodore offense has done next to nothing off Austin Peay's Shawn Kelley, who's given up just five hits and no walks, and takes the mound for the 10th. The durable Kelley has pitched eight complete games, and has thrown 107 pitches thus far.
With a man on and nobody out, APSU's Jake Lane stole second. David Price then struck out Trey Lucas on a 2-2 slider for out one of a tie game.
Jacob Crass hit next, and Price froze him on a 1-2 change-up for strikeout No. 17.
Price then got Matt Smith to ground out weakly to Pedro Alvarez at third, and Vandy, with No. 3-5 hitters Dominic de la Osa, Pedro Alvarez and Ryan Flaherty--the first two all-Americans, the last a second team all-conference selection with a 31-game hitting streak--scheduled in the ninth.
1-1, as the Governors leadoff homer was the only run APSU could manage in the ninth.
We're about to find out if Vandy's David Price can get through the No. 3-5 hitters in the Austin Peay lineup here in the ninth. The Commodores cling to a one-run lead after Shawn Kelley gave up a two-out single, but otherwise escaped the bottom of the eighth unscathed.
In one of the prettiest jobs of pitching you'll see, Vandy's David Price just set Austin Peay No. 2 hitter Josh Kemph up perfectly with two outs in the eighth
Price retired Levi Cheshire to lead off the inning when Cheshire laid down a beautiful bunt that third baseman Pedro Alvarez double-clutched on for a split second, but threw a rocket to first to retire the leadoff man. Price then struck out Rafael Hill on a weak swing on a 1-2 pitch.
Price then watched Kemph swing and miss a pair of inside sliders by about a foot, setting up perfectly for a fastball on the outside corner on the next pitch that froze Kemph.
So, it's Vandy 1, Austin Peay 0, Commodores hitting in the home half of the eighth, and all-American closer Casey Weathers evidently getting ready in the 'pen if needed.
Vandy's Brad French led off the sixth with a first-pitch single, then took second on David Macias's sacrifice bunt. Alex Feinberg flew out to deep right, and French took third to bring all-American Dominic de la Osa to the dish.
De la Osa, who's hit in the clutch all year, stood at the plate with a 2-2 count. And not 30 seconds after I looked at the stat sheet and announced that Austin Peay's Shawn Kelley had thrown but one wild pitch all year... you guessed it. Kelley sailed one wild of catcher Matt Smith, and French easily raced home from third.
After just missing a home run on a foul ball to left, de la Osa struck out.
Watching Shawn Kelley pitch, it's hard to understand how he wasn't drafted last year. The fifth-year senior, who was the OVC pitcher of the year, has completely shut down a red-hot Vandy offense so far.
I talked to APSU's SID about him, and he told me that had the Governors not made the tourney, Kelley was on the verge of signing a free agent contract with Cleveland. He's got a fastball that he throws (guessing) in the low 90s and offsets it with excellent off-speed stuff. He's not overpowering (77 Ks in 122.2 IP through tonight) but more than compensates as he's walked just 11 all season.
He's also durable, as eight complete games in 16 starts would illustrate.
Anyway, with approximately 2,000 people drafted every year, it's hard to understand how he wasn't one of them a year ago. I'll bet it doesn't happen again.
Vanderbilt's David Price is showing why he's expected to be the first pick of the MLB draft on Tuesday. He's struck out nine hitters through five innings, though he has given up four hits. APSU's Shawn Kelley has been just as good, if not better, allowing just one hit and no walks through four and a pair of strikeouts.
Price now has 184 strikeouts in 128 innings this year.
Still scoreless from Charles Hawkins Field between Vandy and Austin Peay after 4 1/2.
David Price has struck out seven Austin Peay hitters through four, but the Governors have hit some hard balls off him, including the last pitch.
Jake Lane singled solidly through the middle, then No. 5 hitter Trey Lucas came to the plate. As the Governors have done all night, they're either taking Price the other way or up the middle. Lucas took him the other way and screamed one to the gap in right center that looked for all the world as if it might be a run-scoring double.
Then out of nowhere came right fielder and all-American Dominic de la Osa, who ranged to his right, got extended and snared the ball just before he hit the ground. He then sprung to his feet and fired back to first to double off Lane and end the inning.
Then, CSS really blew it on the replay much to the laughter of us in the press box. The right field camera tried to follow the ball from the bat to de la Osa and back in, and all that we saw was a moving green patch the whole time. That takes the cake for an anticlimactic replay.
APSU's Shawn Kelley was no slouch in the first, either, getting David Macias to ground out, Alex Feinberg to pop out and all-American Dominic de la Osa to strike out on three pitches in the first. So it's six up, six down in the first, as we have no score between Vandy and Austin Peay after one.
Vandy's David Price looks like he's got it going again, striking out the first two hitters in the first on six pitches, then getting Jake Lane 0-2 before just missing on a called third strike on the inside corner and then getting a routine fly ball to center.
So now, top-seeded Vanderbilt sees what they can do against Austin Peay's Shawn Kelley, the Ohio Valley Conference pitcher of the year.
Zach Putnam couldn't finish the game, but Michael Powers did, and Michigan will advance to face the winner of tonight's Vanderbilt and Austin Peay game. Should Vandy advance, it'll be a rematch from last year's Atlanta Regional, where the Commodores knocked off UM both times they played.
However, it wasn't before the Wolverines got a bit of a scare. Bill Moss knocked in a man with two outs, and Adam Amar, who'd homered twice, was the tying run at the plate with men on first and second. But Amar lined sharply to center for the third out, and the Tigers stand a game from elimination.
Memphis just got two runs back quickly, as Bill Moss singled to deep left to lead off the eighth and then Adam Amar hit his second home run over the 375 photo in left-center that got out of here in no time. It may have been aided by a strong wind blowing out in almost exactly that direction.
So, it's 9-6 Michigan here in the top of the eighth, Memphis batting with none on and none out.
NASHVILLE: Here comes the rain, and also, the Wolverines
Michigan has men on first and second against Memphis reliever Doug Davis, and now Doug Pickens just lofted a long fly ball to where the wall juts out towards center and makes a large triangle as it juts back in and also shrinks from 35 feet in height down to about eight in left center.
Memphis left fielder Tyler Huesling backpedaled to the furthermost corner of the wall, and with his back against it, completely mis-judged it as it clanged off the base of the wall, then trickled back towards the left field line to score Adam Abraham and Nate Recknagel.
And now, the rain has stopped, but Michigan hasn't. Derek Van Buskirk lofted a fly ball to deep center than advanced Pickens up a base, and Kevin Cislo laid down a perfect bunt down the third base line that Kyle Norrid tried to bare-hand and overran, scoring another run. Then, Brad Roblin rolled a single between short and third for another run.
So suddenly, after Memphis had cut the lead to a run, a four-run inning makes it 9-4 Michigan through seven complete.
Memphis got an infield single from Josh Irvin off Michigan's Zach Putnam with two outs, then Joey Lieberman hit a high liner towards the 35-foot high wall 310 feet away in left. I thought the ball was going foul, but it hit the foul pole just above the wall--the first time I've ever seen that happen in probably 125 games here at Hawkins Field--for a home run.
So, we've got a great game here in Nashville if we can finish it with rainstorms approaching. It's Michigan 5, Memphis 4 in the bottom of the sixth.
Jason Christian singled to lead off Michigan's fifth, and Eric Rose sacrificed him to second, when Nate Recknagel hit a screaming liner into center.
Memphis's K.K. Chalmers tried to come in and snare the ball before it hit the ground, but wasn't fast enough to get there, and it got under his glove and rolled to the wall for an easy tripe for Recknagel.
Later, with two away, Doug Pickens blooped a ball over second to score Recknagel from third for a 5-2 Michigan lead.
The Wolverines' Zach Putnam has pitched fairly well against the powerful Memphis lineup, giving up just four hits so far.
Memphis got a run in the top of the third off Michael Murray's single scoring Tyler Huesling, and back comes Michigan on a sac fly to deep center that scored No. 9 hitter Brad Roblin to cut the margin to 2-1. Zach Putnam then hit a high hopper to short with two outs that scored Jason Christian from third for the tying run. Adam Abraham, another two-way player for the Wolverines, then singled off the glove of third baseman Kyle Norrid with Putnam, who took second on a wild pitch, taking off easily and scoring from second.
Doug Pickens flied out to deep center on a ball that K.K. Chalmers apparently had trouble picking up, but he made the play for the third out.
It's now Michigan 3, Memphis 2 after 3 in Nashville.
Memphis's Adam Amar, the school's all-time RBI leader, just hit a towering shot over the "green monster" in left that landed on the top of Vanderbilt's Memorial Gymnasium, and Memphis has a 1-0 lead over Zach Putnam and Michigan. Putnam has responded by getting two quick outs, including a strikeout, so the lead stays at 1-0 with two outs in the top of the second.
Michigan's Zach Putnam made easy work of a potent Memphis lineup in the first, striking out K.K. Chalmers and Michael Murray before getting Bill Moss to pop to right. So the Big Ten regular season champs will come to the plate against Scott McGregor (5-3, 6.45) in the first.
Nashville: Welcome to new and improved Hawkins Field
We're moments from starting the game between No. 2 and No. 3 seeds Michigan and Memphis at Vanderbilt's Charles Hawkins Field, which has a new look.
First, there's a new scoreboard in right-center, which looks very much like the old scoreboard, except that the panel across the top where batters are introduced and other announcements are made unlike the one on the previous scoreboard, which had stopped working since being struck by lightning last year.
But more notably, there are several hundred bleacher seats added along the right field line, and again behind the fence in right-center. So, capacity at this place is now 3,700 instead of the previous 2,200.
Anyway, it's an 88-degree day with lots of humidity, and UM two-way star Zach Putnam has finished warm-up tosses and they're waiting on television to catch up... so baseball is upon us!