After Ty Davis kept Austin Peay off the scoreboard for the first inning all day in the bottom of the fifth, Vandy's Ryan Flaherty got his fourth hit of the day--a single on an 0-2 pitch from David Vicini--and then Matt Meingasner followed with a homer to deep left-center, his second in two days.
Vandy now has 14 hits and 10 runs with one out in the sixth, and had chances for more but has left eight on base already.
Casey Weathers polished off LSU in the ninth, and the Commodores will head to Hoover, Ala. on Wednesday as the top seed in the Southeastern Conference Tournament to face Tennessee, whom Vandy swept last month.
No one in their right mind would want to face the Commodores right now, as Vandy finished the second half of the SEC season by going an astonishing 13-2.
Meanwhile, LSU misses Hoover for the first time since 1984.
Vanderbilt 6, LSU 1 is your final score from Hawkins Field.
LSU's Jared Bradford gave up a leadoff double to Alex Feinberg, and coach Paul Mainieri came to the mound to pull him in the eighth. Bradford, a junior who has won or saved 10 of LSU's 12 conference victories, got a big hug from catcher Robert Lara as he left the mound.
Bradford is well-liked by teammates, coaches and writers from what I'm told, as the hug from his catcher might indicate. He stands to be the tough-luck loser today after giving up just six hits in seven innings, but trails 3-2 in the eighth as Dominic de la Osa has now tacked on a bunt single to give Vandy men at second and third with no one out.
NASHVILLE: LSU gets a run back, then some tough luck
LSU No. 9 hitter Robert Lara led off the eighth with a double off the top of the 310-foot high wall in left, then scored on Michael Hollander's ground-out..That was the second out of the inning that Brett Jacobson registered, then after he walked Blake Dean, Tim Corbin pulled him for closer Casey Weathers, who gave up a single to Sean Ochinko to set up Nick Pontiff's ground ball that looked for all the world like it was going to get into right and score the tying run from third.
That's when second baseman Alex Feinberg made a fully-extended dive to his left, snared the ball at the end of the webbing of his glove, sprung to his feet and nipped Pontiff at first. It's probably the best defensive play I've witnessed in the 35 games or so I've seen in person this year.
So Vanderbilt now leads LSU 3-2 as the Commodores will send No. 2, 3 and 4 hitters Feinberg, Dominic de la Osa and Pedro Alvarez to the plate in the bottom of the eighth.
NASHVILLE: Another inning, another double play, another bad call
The umpiring in Nashville this weekend has been horrid, and after Vanderbilt was victimized a few times the first few days, the men in blue seem to be intent on sticking it to the Tigers today.
Nicholas Pontiff led off with a single, and the speedy Jared Mitchell hit a grounder to Ryan Flaherty at short. Flaherty flipped to Alex Feinberg at second, then threw to Brad French at first. Mitchell beat the throw by probably a foot, but was called out.
Earlier, the Tigers may have been hosed on the controversial 9-3 play at first, and a double play in the fourth where Sean Ochinko came very, very close to beating the throw at second if not beating it outright.
Friday night, the same crew blew a call badly at home plate costing Vandy's Alex Feinberg a run, and missed a call at first and second that went against Vandy last night, in addition to inexplicably squeezing Vandy's Mike Minor, very much a control pitcher, though most of the early innings.
In other words, I'm not at all impressed with this crew of Bryan Donnelly, Jack Cox and Fred Cannon.
NASHVILLE: Another inning, another baserunning mistake for LSU
LSU coach Paul Mainieri has got to be pulling his hair out. The Tigers have out-hit Vandy 6-5, but trail 3-1 due to some horrid baserunning mistakes and Vanderbilt double plays.
The latest fiasco came when the not-so-fleet-footed Sean Ochinko looped a single to left. Left fielder Matt Meingasner got over and played it cleanly, then threw to shorstop Ryan Flaherty, who threw to Alex Feinberg just in time to nail a sliding Ochinko at second.
That's the third time the Tigers have been thrown out from the outfield in six innings today, one resulting in a double play. Another 6-4-3 double play also ended a fourth-inning would-be rally.
It's Vanderbilt 3, LSU 1 as the Commodores just went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the sixth.
The Vandy bats had been quiet for the past three innings off LSU righty Jared Bradford, but a solid, two-out single by Alex Feinberg kept the inning alive for Dominic de la Osa, who homered last night and has been torrid for about the last six weeks.
As he has done so many times, de la Osa hit a towering shot over the green monster in left and on top of Memorial Gym, and the Commodores have a 3-1 lead. De la Osa is making a serious case for all-SEC and all-American honors with an on-base percentage over .450, a slugging percentage approaching .750 and 17 steals in 23 attempts, and 10 homers in SEC play.
Vandy's Cody Crowell gave up a leadoff walk to Blake Dean and a hard-hit single by Sean Ochinko in the fourth, but managed to get out of the inning without any runs behind one of the ugliest double plays you'll ever see and a strikoeut of Jared Mitchell.
After showing bunt early and with the infield in, Nicholas Pontiff hit a slow grounder to Ryan Flaherty at short. Ochinko had a running start and I thought he beat the throw to second, but was ruled out. Second baseman threw a weak one-hopper to Brad French at first that just beat Pontiff.
Crowell then fanned Mitchell for his second strikeout of the game, and we're still tied at one in Nashville after three complete. LSU's Jared Bradford is throwing a nice game for the Tigers so far.
LSU continues to find creative ways to run into outs today. WIth Jared Mitchell on first and a long fly ball to center from Steve Broschofsky, David Macias retreated in center and Mitchell, thinking the ball would get over Macias's head, dashed past second and then stopped about two steps past the bag as he realized the ball might be caught.
The speedy Mitchell then began his retreat back to the first base bag. The problem was, he didn't tag second base back on his way to first and instead cut around the inside of the bag, and when shortstop Ryan Flaherty's throw went to Brad French at first, umpire Jack Cox rung him up with no argument from the LSU dugout.
Vandy made three quick outs in its half of the inning, so we're still tied at one after two complete.
Just as Sean Ochinko singled to right, and I went to score it on my card, a gasp erupted from the Hawkins Field crowd followe by applause.
Right fielder Dominic de la Osa alertly threw back to first behind Ochinko at first, who I"m told turned slightly to second while still on the line and then stumbled slightly. The throw went foul-side to Brad French, who applied the tag just before Ochinko got back to the bag.
I didn't see it so I can't pass judgment, but some in the box felt it was a bad call, and LSU coach Paul Mainieri certainly did as he argued for a few moments.
Anyway, it's LSU 1, Vanderbilt 0 with the Commodores already making an out with the leadoff man in the first.
It's 69 degrees and not a cloud in the sky, and a slight breeze at Hawkins Field as Vandy and LSU are underway.
Chris Jackson leads off with a solid, first-pitch single for the Tigers, and a wild pitch and a sacrifice by Michael Hollander got him to third. Blake Dean hit a ground ball to the right side, giving LSU its first lead of the series.
Vanderbilt's Ty Davis got LSU 1-2-3 in the ninth, and Vandy held on for a 6-2 win over LSU. The victory was the 45th for Vandy, tying a school record set by the 2004 Super Regional team that lost to eventual national runner-up Texas.
The big story, however, was the pitching of freshman star Mike Minor. Minor had struggled his three previous outings, but was superb tonight in a 7 2/3 inning, five-hit, six-strikeout performance.
"I came out here not thinking about anything about pitching and focusing on the mitt," said Minor, a freshman from nearby Chapel Hill, Tenn. "I've been working hard during the weeks trying to get on track to where I was at the beginning of the year . . . trying to keep the ball down. Lately, the balls have been up and have been getting hit."
Minor had been untouchable his entire career until the recent starts, and gave up just one earned run his entire senior year at tiny Forest High last season. Coach Tim Corbin has to be breathing a sigh of relief heading into postseason, knowing that Minor has reverted to prior form.
Vandy's 21 conference wins have shattered the previous school record of 16, set by the 2004 and 2006 teams. The Commodores probably aren't done yet, but even if everything went downhill from here, it's been a historic season in Nashville for sure.
Vanderbilt held a 4-2 lead going into the eighth, and got some insurance in the bottom of the inning.
Ryan Flaherty walked and Matt Meingasner was hit by a pitch, and Shea Robin blooped a single over a drawn-in infield. Ryan Davis did the same, chopping a single over the head of Sean Ochinko to score two runs.
6-2 Commodores, as Ty Davis, who's been unhittable of late, will start the ninth on the hill for Vandy.
Vandy's Mike Minor had been breezing with two outs in the the eighth, but grooved a pitch to LSU's Jared Mitchell, who launched it well over the wall in right to cut Vandy's lead to 4-2 in the top of the eighth. Minor threw 116 pitches and is in line for his eighth win, and Ty Davis struck out J.T. Wise to end the inning.
The strike zone seems to have shrunk on LSU's Paul Bertuccini here in the sixth, and the Commodores took advantage of it. Shea Robin took a walk to load the bases, and pinch-hitter Ryan Davis crowded the plate and was hit by a pitch to force in a run.
Andrew GIobbi followed with an RBI groundout, and David acias grounded out to end the inning. But the Commodores put three on the board to break open a close game, and Mike Minor will take the mound with a three-run lead in the seventh.
After a Dominic de la Osa homer, a Pedro Alvarez single, a walk to Ryan Flaherty and a sacrifice bunt by Matt Meingasner to move runners to second and third, LSU coach Paul Mainieri had seen enough of lefty Ryan Byrd.
Now, righty Paul Bertuccini is on in relief for the Tigers to face righty Shea Robin.
Dominic de la Osa just hit a laser to left that all of us in the press box thought would be a double that hit about 10 feet from the top of the large wall in left. Much to our amazement, the ball got out of here, a testament to how hard de la Osa hit the ball (and perhaps how poor our eyesight is).
Anyway, LSU's Ryan Byrd had pitched very well to that point, and I had just thought how no one other than Matt Meingasner (triple) hat hit a ball really hard off him all night. Now, Pedro Alvarez singled to right, and Vandy's got a man on first with no outs and a 2-1 lead.
J.T. Wise, LSU's No. 7 hitter, ripped into a two-out offering from Mike Minor and bounced it to the wall past Dominic de la Osa in right, scoring Sean Ochinko from second. De la Osa then bobbled the ball and allowed Wise to take third.
Catcher Shea Robin then got called for interference against Ryan Schmpf to put runners on the corners, but Minor struck out Robert Lara on a 1-2 pitch to end the threat.
One apiece between the Commodores and Tigers, with Vandy coming to hit in the home half of the fourth.
Maybe Tim Corbin should have sent Matt Meingasner home on the triple anyway. With one out, Meingasner went home on a contact play on a grounder to third, and was ruled out at home. It looked as if Meingasner might have beaten the tag, but home plate upmpre Fred Cannon rang him up with passion.
Still Vandy 1, LSU 0 as the Tigers hit with one on and one out in the third.
Vanderbilt's Matt Meingasner lofted a triple over the head of Jared Mitchell in center, and Ryan Flaherty, who had just extended his hitting streak to 23, scored easily.
It would have been interesting to see if Meingasner, not too fleet afoot, could have scored. I think he might have, but with one out and a hot-hitting lineup, Tim Corbin (probably) wisely held him at third.
LSU had two on and one out after a controversial play in which Jared Mitchell drew a walk with runner Nicholas Pontiff going from first. Pontiff was thrown out as Mitchell tried to check his swing on a borderline pitch from Vandy's Mike Minor. Third base umpire Jack Cox went to cover the bag at second, then when the appeal went to Cox to see if Mitchell had swung, it was obvious that Cox had not watched the hitter and had no clue, and instead of a possible end-of-the-inning, the TIgers had two on and one out.
No matter. J.T. Wise grounded into a 6-4-3 twin-killing, and the game is still scoreless after 1 1/2.
After a rough last three outings, star Vanderbilt freshman Mike Minor breezed through the first on about 10 pitches, getting Chris Jackson, Michael Hollander and Blake Dean all on harmless pop-ups and ground-outs.
It'll be interesting to see how much intensity the Commodores play with tonight after clinching the SEC outright last night. Knowing Tim Corbin, there shouldn't be much of a drop-off.
It took decades for Vanderbilt to win a share of its first SEC regular season title in baseball, so the Commodores didn't mind waiting a little longer to get the thrill of winning it outright.
Fresh off a 4-1 victory over LSU, the Commodores waited anxiously as the last two innings of the Ole Miss-Arkansas game were broadcast over the loudspeaker of Hawkins Field. As the Rebels registered the last out to get out of a ninth-inning jam and clinch a 5-4 win over the homestanding Razorbacks, a rare smile broke over Commodore coach Tim Corbin's face as Vandy's fifth-year coach started to savor the sweetness of winning a conference title outright.
Corbin charged out of the dugout, fist raised, towards a huddle of shouting players in left field. He jumped into the crowd of players and celebrated for a few moments before getting the obligatory Gatorade shower.
It's nice to see a guy like Corbin come out a winner. He's clean as a whistle, graduates his players and makes sure his players toe the line as citizens as well. To turn a perennial cellar-dwellar in the nation's toughest conference into a league champ in just five years is truly remarkable. Hats off to the job that he and assistants Erik Bakich and Derek Johnson have done in Nashville.
Vanderbilt's David Price just struck out Sean Ochinko and Nicholas Pontiff to start the ninth before walking Jared Mitchell. That gave Price 15 strikeouts on the night before the walk prompted Tim Corbin to pull Price after 131 pitches for closer Casey Weathers, who got Steve Broschofsky to ground out to end the game.
That gives Vanderbilt a share of its first-ever SEC regular season title, which they can clinch if Ole Miss, who is tied with Arkansas at four apiece in the seventh, can pull out a win over the Razorbacks.
Vandy's David Price takes the mound with a 4-1 lead in the ninth and 113 pitches under his belt tonight. He'll face the No. 4-6 hitters, Sean Ochinko, Nicholas Pontiff and Jared Mitchell, who stand between the Commodores and a share of their first SEC regular season title ever.
David Price entered the seventh with 13 strikeouts and 108 pitches, and this inning, relied on his defense for some help.
Alvarez got a first-pitch pop-up from Chris Jackson to right, a third-pitch pop-up to center from Michael Hollander and a fourth-pitch ground out from Blake Dean to third where Pedro Alvarez threw a seed to first for out three.
So, we'll likely see Price in the ninth, and Vandy hits in the bottom of the eighth with a 4-1 lead against LSU.
Vanderbilt shortstop Ryan Flaherty has just extended his hitting streak to 22 games with a two-out single in the seventh that sent Pedro Alvarez to third with two outs.
Matt Meingasner followed with a harmless chopper to shortstop Michael Hollander, and Hollander flipped to Chris McGhee at second for out three. But McGhee inexplicably dropped the flip, allowing the Commodores to get another run.
Vandy's David Price has struck out 13 through seven, giving up just four hits and throwing 108 pitches thus far. Price comes out for the eighth, as Vandy has a 4-1 lead over LSU.
A Commodore victory would clinch a tie for the SEC regular season title.
David Price is throwing his typical Friday night outing, striking out Nick Pontiff and Jared Mitchell before yielding consecutive singles to Steve Broschofsky and Buzzy Hadel.
Price rebounded to fan get Chris McGhee for the third out as the LSU No. 9 hitter grounded to second, and Hadel ran into second baseman Alex Feinberg so McGhee was called out on runner's interference. The inning's second strikeout was Price's 13th strikeout through seven, and Vandy takes a 3-1 lead to the bottom of the seventh.
Price has now struck out 163 hitters in 112.1 innings this season.
I just saw the photo from the controversial play in which Alex Feinberg was called out at home and had an argument with Jack Cox as a result. It appears that Feinberg was right to be angry: Feinberg's hand sure looks as if it's touching the plate just as he reaches home with a tag nowhere in sight.
Anyway, it's no harm to this point as Vandy has a 3-1 lead, David Price is cruising, and the Commodores have a man on second with one out and the No. 9 and 1 hitters coming up.
Vanderbilt missed its chance to break the game open against Charlie Furbush in the fifth, loading the bases with no outs and getting just a run despite having the No. 3, 4, 5 and 6 hitters all getting chances in that situation.
Brad French led off with a single off LSU pitcher Charlie Furbush, then David Macias reached first as third baseman Chris Jackson sailed a throw over first baseman Buzzy Haydel's head at first to put runners at second and third. Alex Feinberg walked to load the bases.
Dominic de la Osa popped to shallow right, not deep enough for French to score from third. Pedro Alvarez took a change-up outside, then a curve in the same spot, then sat on a fastball that he just missed, popping it to shallow left.
But LSU's Blake Dean does not have a good arm, and French scored without much of a problem from third for a 3-1 Vandy lead. Matt Meingasner grounded out for out No. 3.
Vanderbilt's Shea Robin just had a two-out single to left that scored Ryan Davis, who reached on a two-out infield single that got between the pitcher and first and second basemen, and no one could get over to cover in time. After a passed ball by Sean Ochinko, Davis was going all the way on Robin's single to left.
Left fielder Blake Dean did not get off a good throw, and it was cut off by an infielder, who spotted Robin wandering towards second. Robin, knowing he was meat, went ahead and advanced to the bag where he was thrown out by 15 feet.
It's the second baserunning mistake by the Commodores as Dominic de la Osa was picked off second to end the third. These are the kinds of mistakes that drive coach TIm Corbin nuts, so I expect to hear about those plays later whether the Commodores win or lose.
Anyway, Vandy's got a 2-1 lead as Price records the first out in the fifth.
LSU has just one hit, but made it stand up for a run here in the fourth against Vandy. Chris Jackson just scored from third with a little help from Dominic de la Osa in right. De la Osa is having an all-American-type season, but didn't make a good play in right just now.
De la Osa mis-judged Blake Dean's fly ball to right, and had to get on his horse to catch up with it going back to right to register the second out. Jackson had moved 15 feet towards home, and had to go back furiously, then tag to go home.
Meanwhile, de la Osa nonchalantly got the ball in to the cutoff man, as Jackson scored easily on what should have been a close play at the plate.
The Tigers got another hit and had a runner on first with two outs, but Price got a tapper from Nicholas Pontiff to end that threat.
One apiece as Vandy will come to the dish in the fourth momentarily.
Vanderbilt's David Price just broke his own school record by striking out Chris McGhee for his seventh K in three innings. That gives Price 156 on the season, breaking his own school record that he established last season.
It's Vanderbilt 1, LSU 0 as the Commodores get ready to hit in the third.
Vandy's Matt Meingasner went the other way to right on a pitch from LSU's Charlie Furbush. There was no buzz in the crowd when the ball was hit as it didn't seem to be hit all that well, and no one in the press box even thought the ball would get out, as it looked like it would be a lazy foul ball that was going to drift foul along the line in left.
But right fielder Steve Broschofsky suddenly ran out of room, and Meingasner's hit squeezed just inside the foul pole in right and just over the fence, and Vandy has a 1-0 lead over the Tigers in the second.
Vandy's David Price has been the story so far, striking out five of six LSU hitters through two innings. Price also was responsible for the other out when he picked off Sean Ochinko, who reached on Ryan Flaherty's inning to lead off the first.
You don't often see power pitchers with great pickoff moves, but Price has caught several people leaning the wrong way. Price, of course, has a built-in advantage being left-handed.
No score as the Commodores hit in the bottom of the second, with LSU lefty Charlie Furbush striking out Flaherty looking.
Vandy's Pedro Alvarez just smoked a double to the gap in right-center, and Alex Feinberg, running all the way from first, appeared to slide around LSU catcher Sean Ochinko to score the game's first run.
Home plate umpire Jack Cox disagreed. As Feinberg got up, no signal was given, and Ochinko chased Feinberg down about 12 feet from the plate and was called out.
The normally mild-mannered Feinberg removed his helmet and was hot as he made his way back towards Cox, both parties adamant that the other one was in error. In four years of covering Vanderbilt, I think it's the first time I've ever seen a player have words with an umpire.
Vandy coach Tim Corbin also came out and had a heated exchange with Cox for a good 90 seconds before returning to the dugout. The fiasco seems to have riled up an otherwise docile Vandy crowd, as LSU's Ochinko leads off the second by reaching on Ryan Flaherty's error.
No score from Nashville as we hit the top of the second.
Vanderbilt's David Price struck out the side in the first, with the Tigers not even coming close to hitting him. No. 3 hitter Blake Dean managed to foul a ball off, the best an LSU hitter could do in the first.
Price has got his "A" heater going tonight, it appears, and when that happens, it's generally a long night for an opponent.
Vandy scored a pair in the ninth and got the tying run to the third. After Robert Brooks booted a double-play grounder that would have ended the game, Shea Robin had an RBI hit to draw Vandy to one. Butts fanned David Macias to end the game.
Auburn is playing for pride today. And they are playing well.
Josh Donaldson threw out three base runners and picked off another. At the plate he got Auburn's first run with a solo home run. He gave them the lead in the eighth with a double high off the thirty-feet high green monster for a double and scored on Joseph Sanders' infield single.
Senior Andy Bennett, in his final game at Plainsman Park, smoked a home run down the right field line scoring Sanders to push the Tiger lead to 5-2.
Shea Robin had not homered since the opening game of the Vanderbilt season in a victory over Rice. He just poked one that caught a lift from a outbound breeze and carried over the 331 sign in right. Robin's solo shot tied the game at 2.
Three of this games four runs have come on solo home runs.
In five innings, Josh Donaldson is 3-3 throwing out basestealers and has also picked a runner off first base. It might be time to find a red octagon to hold up on the basepaths. The Donaldson kid can throw.
Philip Stringer singled in Ross Smith to give Auburn a 2-1 lead. We are in the fifth.
Auburn catcher Josh Donaldson is trying his best to make up for his two-out tenth inning passed ball that allowed the winning run yesterday. In four innings, Donaldson has thrown out two basestealers and picked off a runner. At the plate, he has a walk and a solo home run.
Pedro Alvarez just tied the game with a solo blast to right. Just a short, sweet swing and the ball jumped for his fifteenth dinger of the season and the 37th of his two-year career.
There will not be a Days Inn Commercial in my future
One of the byproducts of covering college baseball each weekend is lots of miles driven and frequent hotel stays. I made the mistake of waiting too long to book a room for this weekend in Auburn. The "best" option available was a Days Inn close to downtown. Good location, just a few blocks from the ballpark. Seemed OK.
After nine innings, the game was delayed for 90 minutes for lightning in the area. We're underway again ...
Ryan Davis smacked the first pitch of the tenth inning into right-center for a double and took third on a sacrifice and scored on a two-out passed ball. The next hitter grounded out making the passed ball even bigger.
Casey Weathers returns to the hill in search of his tenth win. He'll face the bottom three for Auburn, Ross Smith, Justin Bristow, and Philip Stringer.
In the bottom of the ninth with Vandy leading 4-3, Commodore closer Casey Weathers started well striking out leadoff man Bruce Edwards but allowed a ground ball single to Luke Greinke. A wild pitch sent Greinke to second.
Three-hole hitter Josh Donaldson sliced a single to right to score Grienke and draw the game to 5-4.
Mike Bianucci who already has two hits including a homer, had a seeing-eye single to left. Two on and one outs for senior Andy Bennett. Bennett followed with a single to left to score Donaldson to tie the game at 5.
Weathers for Robert Brooks to hit into a double play to end the threat.
Three fifth inning doubles pushed Vanderbilt into a 4-3 lead in humid, Plainsman Park at Hitchcock Field at Samford Stadium.
We've had seven hit batters in the game so far. Vandy's Mike Minor just hit Andy Bennett and got a stare down and words as Bennett took first. Minor then hit the next batter Robert Brooks - who turned amazed towards Minor as his coach Tom Slater urged him to take his base. That ended the day for Minor - one out short of the five innings required for the win.
Ty Davis got a bases-loaded ground out to end the fifth. Commodores lead 4-3 after 5.
Vandy's Mike Minor retired the first two hitters in the first before Josh Donaldson smacked a double. With first base open and a 3-0 count on cleanup man Mike Bianucci, AU coach Tom Slater gave Bianucci the swing away sign. That worked out pretty well as he the sophomore slammed a home run to give Auburn a 2-0 lead. That's his 14th home run this season.
Vanderbilt answered in the top of the second with Pedro Alvarez led off with a long home run to center. For the Vandy sophomore, it was his fourteenth home run of the season tying him for the team lead with Dominic de la Osa.
Nothing is sweeter for Vanderbilt fans than to sweep in-state rival Tennessee, and that's what just happened.
Vandy's Pedro Alvarez laid off a change-up outside for a walk on a 3-2 pitch, and Ryan Flaherty, perhaps the team's best bunter, placed one perfectly between the pitcher, second baseman and first baseman for an infield hit.
UT relieved Jeff Lockwood, who threw a terrific 5 1/3 innings in relief himself, with Aaron Everett.
Shea Robin couldn't get a bunt down on the first at-bat, and eventually struck out for out one.
Ryan Davis pinch-hit for Matt Meingasner as the Vols played the lefty Davis not to pull and substituted Daniel Beasley, who has a better arm, for Jarred Frazier in left. Davis indeed pulled, hitting a ball a few feet inside the right-field line, and the Commodores stay atop the standings in the SEC East by a pair of games over Florida.
Weathers won or saved every game this weekend for the Commodores, and is insuring his status as a first-rounder this June.
For the third-straight day, Tim Corbin has summoned Casey Weathers in the late innings for Vanderbilt.
Weathers relieved Cody Crowell, who walked leadoff hitter Tony Delmonico in the ninth with one ball to J.P. Arencibia. His pickoff throw to 5-foot-8 first baseman Brian Harris sailed into the photographer's well to put Delmonico on second, and Arencibia's ground-out got Delmonico to third.
As usual, Weathers bore down to strike out Yan Gomes and Jeff Lockwood (the second with a change-up on which Lockwood had no chance after getting blown away with about a 99 MPH heater on the previous pitch), sandwiching a two-out walk to Danny Lima in between.
So, the Commodores, who have won four of five SEC series but have yet to get the elusive sweep, go to the ninth against their in-state rivals in a tie game.
Vandy's Nick Christiani was removed with two outs and a man on second in a tie game for lefty Cody Crowell, who got lefty Julio Borbon to ground to first to end the inning and keep the score tied at 6 here in the eighth.
I mentioned Vandy's problems with Sunday starters earlier after Stephen Shao was bombed... Christiani had that role until another disastrous performance in Lexington against Kentucky last weekend. Today, he pitched 5 1/3 innings, giving up just one run on a homer to J.P.Arencibia, and by my count, just one hit otherwise with a couple of walks and hit-by-pitches thrown in.
UT's Jeff Lockwood has registered two quick outs here in the eighth, so it looks as if we may head to the ninth tied at 6.
UT brought closer Jeff Lockwood on in the third, and the lefty's getting it done today at Hawkins Field.
It hasn't necessarily been pretty, as Lockwood has stranded at least one every inning and gotten some hard-hit outs. But the score's tied here as we go to the eighth after UT starter Lance McClain gave up five in the third because Lockwood and Vandy's Nick Christiani, who also relieved a starter in the third, have been so effective.
Lockwood's longest outing has been six innings this year in a similar situation against Alabama, relieving early and keeping the Vols in a game they eventually won in 10 innings.
After walking the first hitter he faced in the third as he came to relieve Stephen Shao, Vandy's Nick Christiani has been terrific.
Christiani's intentional walk to Yan Gomes, which set up an inning-ending double play in the third, has been the only other baserunner he's yielded. He's thrown a perfect fifth and sixth, with four ground-ball outs and two pop-ups to shallow right as the Commodores still hold a 6-5 lead.
It's the first time in weeks that I can remember a reliever other than Casey Weathers pitching with any degree of effectiveness for Vandy.
Interestingly, Brian Harris has stayed in the game at first after pinch-hitting for Kurt Lipton last inning. The Commodores are really struggling to get offense from that spot right now, the 5-foot-8 Harris just got his first crack at first, and made a nice play to catch a wild throw and apply the tag for an out in the sixth.
After getting an 0-2 count to pinch-hitter Brian Harris with men on second and third and two outs, UT's Jeff Lockwood missed with a change-up outside, then missed badly with a fastball outside that got by J.P. Arencibia, and Ryan Flahert (leadoff walk) raced home with the go-ahead run.
Harris fouled off a number of pitches with Andrew Giobbi at third, then coaxed a walk. That brings up hot-hitting David Macias, who was 2-3 with a pair of singles and a line-drive out.
However, Macias tapped to Tony Delmonico for an easy third out.
Vanderbilt 6, Tennessee 5 as five are complete. It's always an adventure when the Commodore bullpen takes the hill (at least, of late) so stay tuned, there are likely more fireworks to come.
Vandy's Nick Christiani gave up a double to Julio Borbon to lead off the fourth, then walked Tony Delmonico.
Cleanup hitter J.P. Arencibia inexplicably tried to bunt on the first pitch unsuccessfully, and eventually grounded out 1-3. Vandy's Tim Corbin ordered an intentional walk to Yan Gomes to load the bases with one out and a pitcher struggling with his control on the mound, a move that I thought was curious given that Danny Lima had hit into one double play al year.
No matter... Lima tapped the first pitch right to Pedro Alvarez at third, who fielded, took one step on the bag and fired a laser to first for a 5-3 inning-ending double play.
Vandy's David Macias just singled sharply to left to lead off the bottom of the fourth, but Alex Feinberg hit a laser to Julio Borbon in center for out one.
5-5, Commodores hitting with one out and a man on first in the bottom of the fourth.
After Alvarez cleared the bases with his homer and Flaherty flied to deep right, Vandy's Shea Robin wlaked and Matt Meingasner slammed a double down the line in left, and Vandy has runners at second and third with two away.
UT's Rod Delmonico wasted no time in pulling starter Lance McClain for closer Jeff Lockwood... in the THIRD INNING.
Now, Andrew Giobbi greets Lockwood with a 3-1 bleeder through the right side of the infield.... two runs score, and that makes a five-spot for both teams here in the third.
We're tied 5-5, Vandy still hitting with a man on first and two away in the bottom of the third.
While we're sitting in the press box discussing the struggles of all-American third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who is being constantly pitched away with change-up after change-up on the outside part of the plate that he's tried to pull, the Vols' Lance McClain got Alvarez 0-2 with a strike looking and another one that Alvarez tried to pull, but shouldn't have.
Vanderbitl's Will Matthews, who also writes some for CSTV, mentioned after Alvarez went 0-2 how much he'd like to see Alvarez go the other way.
Three pitches later,Will got his wish. Alvarez went the other way to deep left-center on a ball that carried better than I thought it would, and he got it over the 375 mark for a three-run homer to bring Vandy within two runs of the Vols at 5-3.
Vandy's Ryan Flaherty lined one to deep right to follow, but the ball was caught on the warning track. The Commodores are hitting the ball well today, and with Vandy's pitching troubles, it may be a long day at the park here at Hawkins Field.
Vandy's Tim Corbin has got to be pulling his hair out. He's got a very talented pitching staff full of high-school all-Americans and players who could have played anywhere, but other than starters David Price and Mike Minor and closer Casey Weathers, he can't find another pitcher to get a third out since SEC play started.
Vandy's Stephen Shao is the latest in a series of Sunday failures. Shao loaded the bases for a 3-2 count against No. 8 hitter Cody Brown, who went the other way and got one just inside the line at first to score all three runs.
The Commodores pulled Shao for Nick Christiani, the former No. 3 starter who couldn't even get to the second inning against Kentucky a week ago. Christiani hit the first batter, then threw a wild pitch to move runners to second and third before getting Andy Simunic, who started this whole five-run mess, with a change-up on a 2-2 pitch.
5-0 Vols, as the Commodores offense, which has struggled in the early innings all year, needs to get something going quickly.
Tennessee got its first lead of the weekend as Andy Simunic and Julio Borbon led off the third with singles, and Tony Delmonico laid down a bunt to get them over a base.
Steve Shao then waked cleanup hitter J.P. Arencibia to pitch to No. 5 hitter Yan Gomes, who homered last night. Gomes hit the first pitch hard up the middle, scoring two runs and leaving men at first and second.
Vandy's third starter evidently will continue to be its achilles' heel for one more weekend unless Shao gets it together soon.
It's a beatiful, 80-degree day in Nashville for game three between Vandy and Tennessee, with the Commodores going for the sweep.
Vandy got two on with two out in the first, and Ryan Flaherty hit a hard smash off lefty Lance McClain, but UT's Julio Borbon made a nice catch coming in to snare the liner.
Vandy's Stephen Shao, making his first start in a year, pitched a nice first inning, giving up a harmless single. The Commodores desperately need a solid No. 3 starter, and coach Tim Corbin is hoping his senior will deliver.
Vandy's Casey Weathers was called on to protect a 3-1 lead in the ninth with two on and none out.
Weathers got a grounder from J.P. Arencibia that moved the runners up to second and third for the first out. Yan Gomes hit a 1-2 pitch down the line past Alvarez at third, which looked fair and would have scored two runs, but the umpiring crew called it foul, and surprisingly there was no argument from the UT dugout.
Instead of a tie game with Gomes on second, Weathers struck Gomes out on a fastball away.
Weathers then blew a fastball by Jeff Lockwood, missed with a fastball low and away, and got a foul ball to Matt Meingasner in left to end the game.
15 Ks for Vandy pitching, and the Commodores have a chance to assume sole possession of first place in the SEC East with Ole Miss leading South Carolina by three in the eighth.
After being untouchable nearly all evening, Vandy's David Price has proven mortal here in the ninth.
With a 3-0 lead, Price gave up a bloop double to Andy Siminic to start the ninth, then Julio Borbon chopped a pitch to Alex Feinberg at shallow second. Feinberg threw low to Brad French at first, where umpire Fred Cannon ruled French bobbled the ball.
Siminic took third, then scored when Tony Delmonico singled sharply to center. That prompted Vandy's Tim Corbin to summon closer Casey Weathers from the 'pen.
Weathers will face former Team USA J.P. Arencibia with one out and two on in the ninth, VU up 3-1.
UT's Yan Gomes singled up the middle to lead off against Vandy's David Price, and Price balked him to second.
Price struck out Jeff Lockwood, but nicked Danny Lima with a pitch to give the Vols men on first and second with two outs.
No matter. Price fanned Shawn Griffin for strikeout No. 14, then got Cody Brown to pop right to David Macias in shallow center for out three.
Price is just amazing tonight, and has only gone to a three-ball count twice in throwing 93 pitches through eight. He's throwing four pitches for strikes, and the Vols have only one really good swing against him all night. In the hundreds of baseball games I've ever watched, this is as good as I've ever seen anyone pitch.
After Andy Siminic and Julio Borbon both struck out to start the seventh, UT's Tony Delmonico, son of UT coach Rod Delmonico, hit a soft liner over the head of second baseman Alex Feinberg into right-center to end the perfect game and no-hitter.
Price balked Delmonico to second, but fanned J.P. Arencibia on a hard slider around his shins and inside that Arencibia missed by about six inches.
Price has now fanned 12, and Vandy leads 2-0 after 6 1/2.
Danny Lima hit a hard grounder to Ryan Flaherty at short to start the inning, and Flaherty's throw pulled Brad French off the bag at first. But French jumped off the bag and slapped a tag down on Lima for out one.
Price then fanned Shawn Griffin swinging and Cody Brown looking for the final outs.
Vandy's David Price is absolutely brilliant at Hawkins Field tonight. He's stayed ahead of the hitters all night, and consequently has a perfect game through five innings. Price has struck out seven UT hitters.
UT's James Adkins has pitched respectably, giving up just three hits (two of which were not hit hard) and a walk, but trails 2-0.
Vandy's No. 9 hitter Brad French steps in to lead off the bottom of the fifth.
Vanderbilt's Ryan Flaherty hit what looked like a harmless blooper to left to lead off the bottom of the fourth, but UT left-fielder Shawn Griffin must have been playing him to pull as the ball hung in the air forever before dropping in fair territory, and a hustling Flaherty, whose nickname "Flash" is a good-natured jab at the shortstop's lack of speed, reached second in time.
After Pedro Alvarez's ground-out that moved Flaherty up a base, Shea Robin bled one through the infield that would up a double as the ball took so long to get to Griffin in left that Robin slid in ahead of the throw.
But Vandy couldn't get Robin in with two outs, and the 'Dores now lead 2-0 after four complete.
UT's James Adkins struck out David Macias for what looked like the third out, but catcher J.P. Arencibia dropped it and threw wild to first to give Vandy a man on first with two away.
Vandy's Alex Feinberg followed with a sharp single to Julio Borbon in center, and David Macias, off and running, sprinted towards third, and when Borbon hurried to field the ball bare-handed for a throw, the ball slipped through his fingers and Borbon then over-ran it.
Vandy coach Tim Corbin never hesitated to send Macias all the way home, and Vandy's got a 1-0 lead as Price records his fifth K to start the fourth and then quickly gets a ground-out.
Interestingly, Corbin coached both Arencibia and Borbon on this summer's national team.
I'm not saying that Tony Manners' judgment is bad, but it's obvious that tonight's home plate umpire is a pitcher's umpire.
Both Vandy's James Adkins and Vandy's David Price made a nice living near the corners of the plate in the first inning, and just about anything that looked as if it might be a strike was. As a result, both teams went 1-2-3, with both Price and Adkins recording strikeouts (Price's other two were tappers back to him).
No score, UT will hit momentarily in the top of the second.
The first pitch is just minutes away between in-state and SEC rivals Vanderbilt and Tennessee. Two locals--Murfreesboro lefty David Price (Vandy) and James Adkins (UT) face off in what should be a good one.
The No. 1 Commodores look to rebound after two startling mid-week losses to Lipscomb and MTSU on a clear, 70-degree night at Hawkins Field... one of just two or three decent days for baseball in Nashville all season.
Vanderbilt's hitting the ball hard in the ninth, and has already plated another run to extend its lead to 7-4.
Dominic de la Osa led off by getting a ball up in the stiff wind to right-center, and what should have been a harmless fly ball just kept carrying. Center fielder Antone de Jesus tried to leap when he may not have needed to do so, and the ball careened off the top of the wall and towards center.
De la Osa wound up on third easily, and Ryan Flaherty smacked a ball over the first wall in right, but the ball hit the big wall behind it, which is in play. Flaherty got a double out of it, and de la Osa easily scored.
That's all for James Paxton, and now UK"s John Cohen is pulling the unorthodox play of moving Tyler Howe from catcher to the mound. Howe pitched in JUCO ball, but has yet to throw an inning this year.
Just as Vandy opened up a four-run lead, Kentucky came right back. Antone de Jesus greeted Cody Crowell with a single, then Sawyer Carroll got one up in the wind to right for his second homer of the year.
How the Commodores must wish yesterday's game could have been completed. Lefty Mike Minor had retired the last 14 hitters he'd faced, but there was no way Tim Corbin was going to throw him on this cold day in Lexington to finish what he'd started.
Saturday's game has now resumed, and Vandy pinch-hit Jonathan White came up against Duran Ferguson, who pitched in the first game and is now on in relief of Andrew Albers, Saturday's pitcher of record.
With runners at the corners and Vandy leading 2-1, White struck out on a slider away. Vandy's Alex Feinberg popped to center, and Ryan Flaherty came home as out two was recorded.
On a hit-and-run, Brad French then singled just to where the second baseman had been, giving Vandy runners on the corners for David Macias, who singled to left for another run. Pedro Alvarez then blooped a single the other way to left for another run before Dominic de la Osa popped up to end the inning.
It's Vandy 5, Kentucky 1, with lefty Cody Crowell coming on to pitch for Vandy's Mike Minor, who retired the last 14 he faced yesterday.
After Wilkes' leadoff double, Shao hit the first batter, Keenan Wiley, with a pitch.
Mike Brown sacrificed the runners up a base for Antone de Jesus, who fanned oin a pitch that looked as if it were six inches off the outer half of the plate.
That brought Sawyer Carroll to the dish. Carroll looked at a change-up for strike one, then Giobbi gave up a passed ball on a tough scorer's decision to score Wilkes from third, bringing UK within a run at 6-5.
Shao then grooved a pitch for Sawyer Carroll, who singled to center to tie it.
Sean Coughlin at the plate, a man on first and two outs in the bottom of the sixth. Sean Coughlin hit a wind-blown fly to deep center that got out of the park, and the 'Cats now lead by two.
LEXINGTON: Dombrowski issues a walk, and other strange things
Normally a one-out walk would not be noteworthy of a blog entry, but when it's Greg Dombrowski, it is.
The UK right-hander just walked Matt Meingasner for his first walk of the game, and fifth of the season in 50 innings. Last year, Dombrowsk had a streak of 42-consecutive innings
Now, Vandy's Alex Feinberg just hit what looked like a harmless ball to second, but with John Cohen's bizarre defensive alignment, a second baseman was not close enough to make a play. Meanwhile, the UK outfield defense was playing him more to pull, and the ball dribbled to the wall where Antone de Jesus slipped on the warning track trying to field it.
That allowed Meingasner to score, and John Cohen must know that Dombrowski was tying with the rare walk, becuase freshman Duran Ferguson is in to pitch.
5-4 Vandy, Commodores batting with a man on second and one out in the top of the sixth.
It's so windy that when the press box door here at Cliff Hagan Stadium gets opened, about half the ceiling tiles get sucked back up and off their mountings to where we can see the lighting wires and all the other good stuff that might be up there.
The wind was blowing straight out to right, which no one has taken advantage of today, and now it's blowing more towards right-center.
Vandy's got David Macias on via a one-out single with Pedro Alvarez at the plate.
Kentucky got Keenan Wiley on with a wak to lead off the fourth, then Ty Davis walked Mike Brown.
Antone de Jesus sacrificed both up a base, and Sawyer Carroll popped one off his hands to medium right, but deep enough to score Wiley from third. Sean Coughlin missed a chance to do more damage when he grounded out to second.
It's UK 4, Vandy 3 as the Commodores get set to hit in the top of the fifth.
UK's John Cohen has been shifting his second and third basemen and shortstop all over the diamond, but Ryan Flaherty beat the defense and lined a single up the middle to score Pedro Alvarez from second.
That tied it, and Ryan Flaherty and Andrew Giobbi singled to follow. But Shea Robin grounded to third, and it remains 3-3 heading to the bottom of the fourth.
Vanderbilt got leadoff man David Macias on when a easy ground ball to Brian Spear at third went through his legs, and then Pedro Alvarez tapped one that wasn't hit hard, but was placed perfectly between the first and second basemen, and VU had runners on first and second with none out.
Dominic de la Osa then bounced a ball over second and into center, and when center fielder Antone de Jesus saw Macias take the turn at third, he kicked the ball and then overran it in haste to get it home.
By the time right fielder Sawyer Carroll picked it up, Alvarez rounded third, and when the throw was off-line, Alvarez slid in with the second run.
Vandy's Ryan Flaherty dragged a bunt and thought he'd reached, but was called out by Nelson Graham at first. De la Osa took third, and Dombrowski struck Andrew Giobbi out with a change-up on his hands. Shea Robin flied to right to end the inning, but the Commodores have a 2-0 lead with the Wildcats coming to face righty Nick Christiani for the first time.
It's cold, it's windy, but finally, we're playing baseball in Lexington. This is game one today, with yesterday's suspended game to be resumed from the top of the sixth with the Commodores leading 2-1 and runners on the corners at the completion of this seven-inning game.
Vandy's David Macias is now stepping in against righty Greg Dombrowski. The Commodores will send six right-handers to the plate to face the UK hurler.
As Vandy and Kentucky get set to play baseball in about 15 minutes, the weather couldn't be much nastier for mid-April. Game time temperature is 36 degrees, with a 12 MPH wind that gusts up to 26.
The first game will be a seven-inning affair, and at the conclusion of that, we'll resume yesterday's game, which ended in the top of the sixth with Vandy up 2-1 and runners on the corners with none out.
Just minutes after the tarp had been pulled, the umpires evidently decided there was too much standing water on the warning track and perhaps at places in the outfield, even though it was barely raining.
And just as the tarp went down, the rain picked up again after almost completely stopping.
And now, they've decided to call the game. There will be a seven-inning game starting tomorrow at 1, then this game will be completed at the completion of the first.
The tarp is off at Cliff Hagan Stadium, the Kentucky team is rolling it up, and baseball seems eminent as the rain has become just a drizzle, and the radar seems to indicate a clearing may be coming.
Vanderbilt will have runners on the corners with no outs, and No. 7-9 hitters Matt Meingasner, Alex Feinberg and Brad French--who have done all the damage tonight--coming up against UK starter Andrew Albers.
Kentucky's Andrew Albers was poised to breeze through the second after retiring the first two hitters on harmless ground balls, and No. 7 hitter Matt Meingasner at the plate.
But Meingasner singled, and Alex Feinberg added a rare walk. Brad French, mired in a huge slump, lined a looper to center that Antone de Jesus made a head-first diving attempt for, and nearly came up with a spectacular catch.
But he didn't; the ball went just under his glove, scoring Meingasner easily, and Vandy's Tim Corbin sent Feinberg home from first. The throw from left fielder Jason Kipnis hit the cutoff man, and the throw home was good, but Feinberg just beat it and slid around the tag.
Hot-hitting David Macias struck out to end the inning, however. It's 2-1 Vandy as the leadoff man steps to the plate in the bottom of the second.
UK had Mike Minor on the ropes in the bottom of the first, but a bad break and a bat at-bat let the Commodore hurler get out of the inning without further damage.
Leading 1-0 with the bases loaded and one out, UK's Brian Spear screamed a liner towards Pedro Alvarez at third that Alvarez moved to his left and snagged eye-high for out two. Then, Minor struck out Jason Kipnis on four pitches, and the inning was done.
1-0 Wildcats, Vandy hitting with one out and none on in the second.
My announcement of the rain's departure was premature. Within five minutes, it was sprinkling again, and now it's elevated back to something in the neighborhood of a downpour.
UK's Albers got out of the top of the first without yielding a run, and Vandy's Mike Minor is getting no help from the defense, himself included. Minor gave up what was ruled as an infield hit when, on a grounder to second, Brad French went over to field it, leaving Minor to cover the bag.
Minor got there in time, but instead of tagging the base, he straddled it, so UK had the leadoff man on. Then on a ground ball to Feinberg at second which might have been a 4-6-3 double play, Feinberg booted it and two were on. UK's Sean Coughlin singled sharply to right, and when right fielder Dominic de la Osa looked towards first, he saw a dark shirt thinking it was first baseman Brad French.
Instead, it was an umpire, and de la Osa tried to bring the ball back, but it was too late. It trickled towards first, scoring Brown and giving UK a 1-0 lead.
'Cats have men on the corners and one out, still hitting in the bottom of the first. The rain has subsided in its intensity, but it's still coming down.
Vanderbilt's David Macias steps in at 8:13 to face UK's Andrew Albers, and takes a ball outside. One hour and 45 minutes after the scheduled starting time, we're underway and more importantly, there's no rain.
Heavy rain moved in for about 10-15 minutes, then stopped in the blink of an eye. So, the tarp's being taken off, and we should play in a few minutes.
But first, Kentucky is having a small ceremony to honor John Hooker, a former UK player who passed away in a plane crash a year ago on ComAir Flight 5191 as he and his wife were on their honeymoon. They're having a moment of silence and a short few minutes of testimony, and Hooker's parents are here in a very touching ceremony.
The decision to wait out the start time now makes more sense.
There is a line of thunderstoms coming in soon, but some smaller pockets of clearance followed by what looks like the front's passage is behind it. What officials are hoping for is that the fronts will pass rather than have the pitchers throw a couple innings, then sit for a while.
The game time has now been pushed back to 7:30 Eastern, which makes little sense to me.
There are storms coming in, but we're in the midst of a pocket of clearance and there has not been significant rain in almost four hours. You would think that they'd want to at least get in a few innings while they can, because even if they have to finish tomorrow, that's less baseball on Sunday.
But, the decision-makers don't share my sentiments, and we'll wait at least another 45 minutes.
I'm very surprised to say this, but tonight's game between Vanderbilt and Kentucky should go off as scheduled, with the first pitch slated for 6:30 Eastern. It has rained non-stop in Lexington since about 10 last night, but the precipitation began to slow down around 3.
The tarp's on the field, and the outfield must be saturated, but it looks like baseball's on. Let's hope the threat of more storms remain just that.
Vanderbilt blew a four-run lead, but survived a 12-inning, 5:10 game in Lexington and came out on the winning end of a 10-8 win over Kentucky. Vandy's Casey Weathers was lights-out, hitting 100 on the radar gun and pitching four scoreless, hitless innings, striking out five to earn his seventh win.
Rain has set in, and the ability to play tomorrow is severely in doubt, so stay tuned tomorrow as we'll bring you news on the series status.
Vandy's Shea Robin singled sharply through short, nearly hitting Jonathan White, who had to retreat back to second to avoid having his teammate called out. Consequently, White could not score, but Vandy has men on the corners with one out up one.
James Paxton walked Jonathan White to lead off the 10th, and UK coach John Cohen, perhaps wary of Paxton's 14 walks in 10 innings this year, wasted no time in pulling Paxton for Aaron Lovett. Lovett will see Shea Robin, Matt Meingasner and Alex Feinberg if he can stick around.
Vandy's Stephen Shao has done a good job of pitching here in the eighth with a man on second and no outs. He struck out Jason Kipnis looking, then got a ground ball from Ryan Wilkes, and Alex Feinberg's throw from second beat him by a step.
With sub Kurt Lipton at first, UK coach John Cohen gambled and sent pitch-runner Brock Wright all the way home on the play. Lipton immediately spotted Wright, and threw home but a little to the third base side and low. It appeared that Vandy's Shea Robin might have gotten the tag in time (actually, the replays were inconclusive, but the throw did beat him) and home plate umpire Nelson Graham made no hesitation in calling Wright safe.
An unhappy Vandy coach Tim Corbin argued the play for a minute or two, but to no avail. So, we've got a tie game as Shao got Antone de Jesus to line to right to end the inning.
8-8, we go to the ninth with Brock Baber on the hill against Vandy's 2-4 hitters.
After blowing a four-run lead, Vanderbilt has come back on Kentucky to re-take an 8-7 lead. Vandy's Ryan Davis just lined a 3-2 pitch off Scott Green up the middle to score pinch-runner Jonathan White from third.
Vandy has runners on first and second, two outs for the recently-hot David Macias. UK has brought on righty Brock Baber.
The Commodores got a run back when Shea Robin grounded out to score Ryan Flaherty, and had a man on third courtesy of a pair of wild pitches by reliever Scott Green on a pair of sliders he couldn't locate.
Matt Meingasner worked the count from 1-2 to 3-2, then took a walk on another slider outside with two outs. That brought up Alex Feinberg, who homered in his last at-bat, and then hit a 3-1 pitch up the middle to tie the game.
Commodores with men on first and second, two outs, 7-7 game in the eighth.
Kentucky just chased starter David Price after Antone de Jesus fouled off a number of pitches, then on what was almost an "excuse-me" swing, went the other way to Pedro Alvarez at third. With men at first and second, Alvarez didn't think he had a play at second after looking there, then hesitated while de Jesus hustled and got to first before Alvarez could throw.
The 'Cats haven't hit the ball hard, but have a run in and the bases loaded with none out, and UK's Keenan Wiley singles sharply to right to plate two, and the game's tied at five.
Still no one out, Wildcats with men on first and second in the seventh.
Kentucky hasn't done much off lefty David Price, but when the 'Cats do something, they're doing it in bunches and scoring runs.
Brian Spear took a leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh, then took second on a flare single to left from Jason Kipnis. UK's Ryan Wilkes then had a solid single up the middle, scoring a run and cutting the margin to 5-3.
UK has just five hits, but has runners on first and second and none out here in the seventh.
Vandy second baseman Alex Feinberg, a three-year starter, had only two career home runs coming into a seventh-inning at-bat against Kentucky's Chris Rusin. But Feinberg just launched a no-doubter about 20 feet past the fence in left-center to lead off the seventh, and give the Commodores a run back after giving up two in the sixth.
5-2 Vandy, Commodores hitting with one on and one out in the seventh.
With one out in the sixth, UK's Mike Brown with the other way for a single to left field, breaking up David Price's no-hitter.
However, the Commodore all-American struck out Antone de Jesus looking on a fastball that appeared to catch the corner or be just off the plate, and now got leadoff hitter Mike Brown on a pitch that looked a couple inches inside, that one also looking.
The 'Cats Sawyer Carroll singled to right to give UK runners on the corners for Matt McKinney, who blooped one between the shortstop, second baseman and centerfielder. UK's John Cohen aggressively sent Carroll from first, and he beat the throw home to cut the margin to 4-2.
Price gets a grounder to end it, but three hits score two runs.
Vandy's David Price struck out two Kentucky hitters in the first inning, then struck out No. 4 and 5 hitters Sean Coughlin and Brian Spear swinging on ridiculous sliders.
The "K" of Spear gave Price 350 career strikeouts, which ties former Toronto Blue Jay Mike Willis's school record. However, Willis accomplished his feat in four years, wheras Price is just midway through his junior campaign.
Price walked Kentucky's Jason Kipnis, but got a weak bouncer from Ryan Wilkes back to the mound, and heads to the dugout with a 2-0 lead.
Chris Rusin ran into some tough luck in the second when, with runners on second and third, he got ahead of Matt Meingasner 1-2, and appeared to perhaps nip the outside corner for a potential strike three on a 3-2 pitch, but didn't get the call.
Rusin's luck improved when he got a taylor-made 6-4-3 double play off Alex Feinberg's bat to follow, but the 'Dores plated a run on the play.
Brad French hit a fly ball to center to end the inning, and the Commodores have a 2-0 lead heading to the bottom of the second.
Whatever trouble the Commodores had hitting Chris Rusin in the first has disappeared in the second.
Ryan Flaherty led off with a solid single through the middle, and Andrew Giobbi went the other way lining one just in front of Flaherty as he made his way to second for another single. Shea Robin then ripped a 1-2 pitch down the line past Brian Spear at third to score Flaherty, and Vandy has men at second and third, no outs and a 1-0 lead.
Those are the two speeds of UK lefty starter Chris Rusin, but they worked to perfection in the top of the first.
Rusin struck out David Macias, Pedro Alvarez and Dominic de la Osa in order with an unorthodox delivery that had a slight hesitation before slinging the ball home. Evidently, it's tough to pick up, as evidenced by how Rusin made the Commodores look foolish.
No score as the Bat 'Cats get set to hit off all-American lefty David Price.
It's a clear night in Lexington, Kentucky as we get set for Vanderbilt and Kentucky, but I'm not sure how long it'll be clear. We are expecting rain showers to move in around 10, and not move out until Saturday evening. So, it would not be a surprise to see the two teams play nine innings tonight, and a seven-inning doubleheader on Sunday.
In any event, tonight's not a night to be a lefthanded hitter. Roger Clemens Award David Price (6-0, 2.50, 99 K's in 68.1 IP), a lefty, will face off against UK lefty Chris Rusin (3-2, 4.53, 46 K's, 43.2 IP). The 'Cats lineup is loaded with left-handed hitters, and the Commodores' two best hitters, Pedro Alvarez and Ryan Flaherty, are also lefties.
If a lefty does get ahold of a ball, it's not hard to hit it out here at Cliff Hagan Stadium, as it's only 310 down the left-field line.
Vandy's David Macias laced a one-out single to center, then Pedro Alvarez took a four-pitch walk.
That brought Dominic de la Osa to the plate. De la Osa, who had homered and walked, struck out on a beautiful 2-2 change-up from Austin Hyatt for out two.
That brought the slumping Ryan Flaherty (1-5) to the dish. With the middle of the infield playing in the outfield, Flaherty squared to bunt, taking strike one, then took a couple of balls, then fouled one back to the screen, then struck out on a fastball to end the game.
'Bama wins 5-3, thus escaping being swept by the Commodores for the first time since 1986. The Commodores left 16 men on base, something that surely won't please coach Tim Corbin.
'Bama got a leadoff walk from pinch-hitter Del Howell to start the tenth, then walked Matt Bentley as he was trying to bunt.
Pinch-hitter Jeff Texada (pronounced "tay HAD uh") bunted both over a base for out one. Greg Paiml tried to go the other way against hard-throwing Casey Weathers with a drawn-in infield, and Brad French nailed Howell at home.
That brought up leadoff hitter Brandon Belcher. Weathers got a first-pitch strike looking, got strike two looking on what looked like a slider on the outside corner, then got a weak foul ball over the screen to hold the count at 0-2.
All of a sudden, runners broke from first and third on a straight steal with Weathers glaring in for the sign, and Weathers never saw it coming. The throw home to get pinch-runner Kyle Moore was too late, and 'Bama took a 4-3 lead.
Weathers got a ground ball from Brandon Belcher up the middle that Alex Feinberg should have held, as he had little shot to get Belcher at first. Instead, Feinberg threw to first wild, and the throw weint into the photographer's station, which by the ground rules advanced Belcher to second and brought Paiml home.
Weathers struck out Jake Smith to end it, but it's 5-3 'Bama with Vandy bringing No's. 9-1-2 (French, Macias, Alvarez) up in the bottom of the tenth.
Weathers got the ground ball he wanted one batter earlier when Alex Avila, who already had two homers, bounced to Alex Feinberg at second. The throw to first arrived in plenty of time, so the Commodores will send No's. 4-6 Ryan Flaherty, Matt Meingasner and Ryan Davis to the plate in a 3-3 game in the bottom of the ninth.
Alabama's Alex Avila just homered to almost the exact spot to which he hit his first-inning homer, pulling to within one of the Commodores at 3-2. That came off Stephen Shao, and is the first multi-homer game of Avila's career, and his seventh of the year.
Just before that, 'Bama pulled starter Tomy Hunter in favor of Austin Hyatt, who got the 'Tide out of a two-on, two-out jam to end the seventh.
Vandy and Alabama are locked up in a pitcher's duel as the Commodores hit in the bottom of the sixth, but both teams have squandered plenty of scoring opportunities. Vandy has left six men on base, the 'Tide eight.
The Commodores had the bases loaded in the fourth with two in, but missed a chance to do further damage with just one out at that point.
Meanwhile, 'Bama loaded the bases with one out via an error, a walk and an intentional walk, loading the bases for cleanup hitter Kent Matthes. Matthes struck out on three pitches, then Alex Avila grounded to Brad French on a high hopper at first to retire the side.
'Bama managed a two-out walk in the sixth, but couldn't score, and the half-inning before, 'Bama's Tommy Hunter retired the side in order.
Alex Feinberg has just laced a one-out double to deep right-center, giving the Commodores another scoring threat in the sixth.
Vanderbilt came back with a vengance to take the lead against Alabama in the fourth, and some clutch pitching by Tommy Hunter kept it from being worse.
Matt Meingasner led off with a single, then Shea Robin hit one deep to the gap in left-center that nicked left fielder Brandon Belcher's glove, but got down for a double, scoring Meingasner.
Alex Feinberg followed by bouncing a single up the middle to score Robin, and Brad French blooped a single to left to give Vandy runners on the corners, then stole second.
David Macias popped to short, prompting 'Bama's Hunter to intentionally walk Pedro Alvarez to pitch to Dominic de la Osa with the bases loaded. De la Osa tapped a weak grounder to Jake Smith at third for out three.
No. 5 hitter Alex Avila just led off the second by taking Nick Christiani deep to right field on a 1-2 pitch, putting Alabama up 1-0 on Vanderbilt. It's Alabama's ninth hit of the weekend, and just the second extra-base hit of the series, the other being Greg Paiml's double down the line yesterday.
Christiani battles back to get a ground-out on the next at-bat.
Alabama's Tommy Hunter loaded the bases with a leadoff double, a walk and a single, but wiggled out of trouble by striking out Matt Meingasner on a 2-2 pitch and getting a weak grounder to short from Ryan Davis that resulted in a force at second.
Both teams seem intent on teasing their fan bases with mock rallies, but neither team has hit with runners in scoring position all weekend.
Not surprisingly, there's no score here after one inning.
The sun is shining, and it's a relatively-balmy 45 degree at Hawkins Field today, with an intermittent brisk wind that's blowing towards left when it blows.
Alabama, who had three hits Friday, three Saturday, and five on Wednesday against UAB, has two singles in its first three at-bats today, a blooper by Jake Smith and a hard single up the middle by Emeel Salem.
First and second, one out for the 'Tide... and as I write, cleanup hitter Kent Matthes bounces into a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat.
Poor Jim Wells must be pulling his hair out... that's eight hits and two unearned runs in 19 innings of baseball in Nashville.
Yesterday, Alabama announced that sophomore Austin Hyatt would get his first career SEC start. Evidently, coach Jim Wells had a change of heart overnight, deciding to go with ace closer Tommy Hunter instead.
This isn't a total shock, since Hunter has started four games already, and in my estimation is a pretty good move by Wells. The 'Tide can't afford to be swept with a 4-7 record already, so it makes sense to get their best arm in right away.
Hunter is 2-3 with a 2.94 ERA in 49 innings, striking out 53 and walking just eight. He played for Vandy coach Tim Corbin on Team USA last summer.
Vanderbilt will counter with Nick Christiani (5-2, 3.92, 43.2, 33, 20).
Vanderbilt's Casey Weathers closed out a 4-2 win in the ninth, giving the Commodores a series-clinching win over Alabama on Saturday afternoon. Freshman Mike Minor went 5 1/2 innings, giving up three hits and two unearned runs to improve to 5-0 and lowering his ERA to 1.88.
Pedro Alvarez and Dominic de la Osa added solo homers for Vandy, and Matt Meingasner came through with three hits, two of which were huge, two-out RBI knocks.
The Commodores, ranked No. 1 in most major polls as well as the RPI rankings, figure to stay there another week. They improve to 29-4 overall and 7-4 in the SEC, a game behind Florida, who trailed South Carolina 8-2 but rallied for a 9-8 win, in the SEC East.
The Commodores have already played Ole Miss, Arkansas and South Carolina, arguably the three-toughest teams in the league besides themselves, so things look good for Vandy's title chances with a tough Alabama team nearly out of the way as well.
Casey Weathers just did what he did best: strike out hitters and get ground balls. Weathers got cleanup hitter Kent Matthes to ground to second, walked No. 5 hitter Jake Smith, but struck out Ryan Rhoden to end the inning.
It's 4-2 Vandy over Alabama, as Vandy sends No's. 6-8 to the plate in the bottom of the eighth.
Dominic de la Osa slammed a one-out double to left to give the Commodores second and third with one out in the ninth for cleanup hitter Ryan Flaherty.
Flaherty smashed a ball that looked for everything like it would get through to score two runs. But Alabama shorstop Greg Paiml, playing unusally shallow to cut off a run at the plate in case of a ground ball, made a diving grab on the infield grass to snare the line drive in the air, and Josh Copeland got Shea Robin to ground weakly to third for the third out.
It's still Vandy 4, Alabama 2 as Cody Crowell takes the hill for the Commodores again in the top of the eighth, facing No's. 3-5 Emeel Salem, Kent Matthes and Jake Smith.
Vandy's Cody Crowell had Alex Avila 0-2, then Avila bounced one towards first that Brad French was ready to field.
The ball then hit the bag, and bounced almost straight in the air but a little towards the mound. Crowell alertly didn't quit on the play, caught the ball in the air on the bounce and sprinted one more step to tag the bag in time.
Crowell now walks the next batter, No. 9 hitter Greg Paiml, so 'Bama has a man on and one out in the top of the seventh.
Alabama's Bernard Robert has pitched very well with the exception of the back-to-back bombs in the third. But Robert looked like he was tiring in the sixth, as he struggled to find the strike zone, prompting a long visit from coach Jim Wells.
The 'Tide appeared to have an arm or two ready to go in the bullpen as the Commodores had men on first and second with two outs during Wells' visit. Either Wells changed his mind or was talked out of pulling Hunter, as he jogged back to the dugout, and at that point, catcher Ryan Rhoden took it upon himself to take a visit to the mound just as time was called back in.
In any event, the delay tactics didn't work, and in hindsight Wells shoudl have stuck to his guns. Matt Meingasner lined a sharp single to left, plating a run and leaving runners on first and second.
Sidearmer Josh Copeland entered facing No. 9 hitter Brad French, who smashed a ball the opposite way to first baseman Matt Bentley, who made a diving stop going to his left and saving two runs.
Just after Alabama had cut the margin to one, it's now 4-2 Vandy, heading to the top of the seventh.
Vandy's Mike Minor suddenly struggled with location in the sixth, and Alabama's making him pay with a lot of help from the Vandy defense.
Brandon Belcher reached on an error when Brad French couldn't handle a chopper, and with one out, Emeel Salem singled the other way through the hole between short and third.
The 'Tide tried a double-steal, and catcher Shea Robin double-clutched to throw Belcher out at third, then sailed a throw past Pedro Alvarez at third which scored Belcher and put Salem at second.
Cleanup hitter Kent Matthes singled sharply to right on perhaps the only hard-hit ball off him all day, advancing Salem to third. Now Minor hit Jake Smith with a pitch, prompting a second visit from coach Tim Corbin and mandating Minor's exit.
Minor had beel briliant until this inning, giving up just one hit and two walks coming into the inning. He leaves as lefty Cody Crowell takes the mound to try to get Vandy out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam with No. 6 hitter Ryan Rhoden stepping in shortly.
The slumping Matt Meingasner just gave the Commodores a big 3-2, two-out double to deep left-center to score Shea Robin from third. It's now 3-0 Vandy, as we head to the top of the fifth at Hawkins Field.
Staked to a 2-0 lead, Vandy freshman lefty Mike Minor made it through the fourth unscathed, giving up just a full-count, two-out walk to cleanup Kent Matthes two pitches after it appeared Minor had him struck out, but didn't get a call from home plate umpire Joe Marion.
Minor has thrown 48 pitches, striking out three and giving up that walk and one hit.
Meanwhile, 'Bama all-American candidate Emeel Salem continues to struggle after his 43-game on-base streak was snapped last night by David Price (that was seven shy of the school record). Salem is now 0 for his last 13, a very uncharacteristic figure for a player who came in hitting .363 with a .471 on-base percentage.
This week has not been all bad for Salem, though. He won the prestigious Boyd McWhorter SEC Male Scholar Athlete of the Year, given to only one male athlete in all sports annually. He's got a 3.9 GPA with a double major in marketing and Spanish, and even though he was picked in the 10th round by the Orioles last June, chose to come back to Tuscaloosa for his senior year because he loved school.
Salem's one of the great stories in college baseball, and, of course, his Commodore opponents annually rank at the top of the NCAA in graduation rates. It's good to see real student athletes have success, and both programs deserve credit for doing things the right way.
The slumping Pedro Alvarez, down 0-2 to Alabama's Bernard Robert, watched three balls and fouled off a couple of pitches before launching a ball about 410-415 feet to right-center and out of Hawkins Field, giving Vandy a 1-0 lead.
Unfortunately, David Macias was thrown out stealing two pitches prior, depriving the Commodores a run.
As a write, No. 3 hitter Dominic de la Osa launched a ball about that far as well, a towering shot to left-center in the at-bat that followed.
So it's 2-0 Commodores with one out in the third. The way the 'Tide have hit of late, and the way Mike Minor looks for Vandy today, that could hold up.
Those are the pitch counts, by inning, for Vandy's Mike Minor, who's faced one over the minimum so far. Minor gave up a two-out double down the third-base line that Pedro Alvarez probably should have fielded, but couldn't get to.
Minor got out of the jam, however, by retiring the next hitter, Brandon Belcher, on a pop to shallow left.
It goes without saying that the game is still scoreless after 2 1/2.
Vanderbilt got two men on against Bernard Robert in the first, but stars Pedro Alvarez and Ryan Flaherty, hitting .211 and .167 respectively in SEC play, continue to slump and didn't help in this inning.
No. 2 hitter Alvarez popped to right with a man on first and nobody out, and Flaherty did the same with men on first and second and one out one batter later. Shea Robin then skied one to left to end the inning.
Once again, no score between Vandy and 'Bama after one.
As great a pitcher as Vandy all-American David Price is, he's not the most-polished pitcher on the staff. That honor belongs to true freshman Mike Minor, who just finished a 1-2-3 first inning on eight pitches.
While Price relies on a devastating fastball and hard slider (with a changeup that's also becoming increasingly effective), Minor gets his fastall to the plate around 91-92, and compliments it with an outstanding change-up that's indistinguishable from his fastball at the release point. Minor also has a great slider as well.
Anyway, Minor has just an unbelievable command of pitches, and unusual poise on the mound. One would NEVER guess that he was pitching against high school hitters a year ago (where he had a 0.08 ERA) as he looks like a big league veteran.
Alabama 0, Vandy with one out and a man on first in the bottom of the first.
Not to be outdone by Friday's nastiniess, Saturday brings some unpleasantness of its own. We're 15 minutes from starting here at Hawkins Field, where the temperature is 38 degrees right now acccording to weather.com. For good measure, there has also been a slight breeze blowing a good bit of the day.
There are a few clouds in the sky, but at least the sun is shining between them for most of the time. I guess we'd better count our small blessings while we can, as tomorrow promises more of the same.
All-American David Price just pitched a shutout ninth to improve to 6-0 on the season, as Vandy beats Alabama 3-0. Price's candidacy for the Roger Clemens Award just got stronger, as the junior lefty struck out 10 for his seventh double-digit strikeout effort in eight starts.
Price struck out Ryan Rhoden to lead off the ninth, then walked Matt Bentley. Jeff Texada tried to bunt, but popped it up, and Price sprinted to catch the ball just in foul territory before it hit the ground. It was one of the more athletic plays I've seen a pitcher make, not surprising considering that Price once had a basketball offer at Auburn.
Price got Brandon Belcher to bounce to second, and Alex Feinberg's flip to Ryan Flaherty at short ended it.
The No. 1-ranked Commodores improve to 28-4, and 6-4 in SEC play.
Vandy's Shea Robin added an RBI single to score Alvarez, then on Alex Feinberg's ground-out to first, a hustling Ryan Flaherty was going all the way from second. First baseman Matt Bentley didn't see him for a split-second, and when he did, catcher Rhoden couldn't handle a throw to the plate that probably wouldn't have been in time anyway.
That put Robin on third, and Matt Meingasner struck out. But the damage was done, and the Commodores have a 3-0 lead.
Perhaps just as importantly, 'Bama star Tommy Hunter came on in relief in the eighth. With Jim Wells struggling to find a third starter with Brandon Belcher unable to pitch, Hunter is the only good candidate for Wells to start on Sunday. However, that appears unlikely as Hunter threw about 18 pitches in the eighth.
Vanderbilt 3, Alabama 0 as Price trots out to pitch the ninth for Vandy.
Vanderbilt's David Macias led off the eighth with a walk, then on a perfectly-executed hit-and-run, the slumping Pedro Alvarez lined a sharp single to right for a first-and-third situation with none out.
With Dominic de la Osa at the plate, a Miers Quigley pitch got by catcher Ryan Rhoden, and Macias sprinted home before Rhoden's throw of the caroom off the brick wall beat him to the plate.
That gives Vandy a 1-0 lead, as Ryan Flaherty was intentionally-walked, and the Commodores have men at first and second with one away in the eighth.
Vanderbilt's David Macias led off the eighth with a walk, then on a perfectly-executed hit-and-run, the slumping Pedro Alvarez lined a sharp single to right for a first-and-third situation with none out.
With Dominic de la Osa at the plate, reliever Tommy Hunter's pitch got by catcher Ryan Rhoden, and Macias sprinted home before Rhoden's throw of the caroom off the brick wall beat him to the plate.
That gives Vandy a 1-0 lead, as Ryan Flaherty was intentionally-walked, and the Commodores have men at first and second with one away in the eighth.
Vandy's David Price got in a jam through no fault of his own, but did a masterful job of pitching out of it in the eighth to keep the game scoreless.
With Alabama struggling to hit David Price, 'Bama's Brandon Belcher laid down a bunt to lead off the eighth and reached safely. Greg Paiml followed with a bunt to Pedro Alvarez at third, which Alvarez threw into center field to give the 'Tide men on second and third with none out.
Price got the dangerous Emeel Salem to pop to Matt Meingasner in shallow right, much too shallow for Belcher to tag and score. Price then intentionally walked Jake Smith to get a lefty-on-lefty matchup against No. 3 hitter Alex Avila, who'd fanned three times.
That prompted Jim Wells to bring in right-handed pinch-hitter Kyle Moore. Price threw a beautiful slider on a 1-1 count for strike two looking, then fanned Moore on either a cutting fastball or a slider just above his shoelaces.
That brought cleanup hitter Kent Matthes to the plate, who was 0-3. Matthes hit a weak chopper back back to first on the first pitch, and Price calmly flipped to Brad French at first for the putout.
Vanderbilt got the leadoff man on (Alex Feinberg) in the bottom of the seventh, and sacrificed him to second with one out. But Vandy's Ryan Davis grounded to second, and Brad French popped to right, and the game remains scoreless as we head to the eighth.
Vandy's David Price has thrown 97 pitches, 'Bama's Miers Quigley about 115.
I just witnessed a rather unorthodox bit of strategy from Vandy's Tim Corbin that nearly backfired, then seemed to work like a charm, then ended harmlessly.
The Commodores pieced together consecutive two-out sigles from Matt Meingasner and Ryan Davis and had runners at the corners in the bottom of the fifth. On a 2-2 count to Brad French, the Commodores then attempted a double steal, and 'Bama pitcher Miers Quigley had Meingasner dead-to-rights at home.
But Meingasner put on the brakes, and on his retreat to third, 'Bama's Jake Smith got just a little too far inside the line, and Meingasner ran around him and slid back into third. Davis alertly took second on the play.
That seemed to rattle Quigley, who then walked French. But David Macias grounded to second to end the inning.
Still scoreless after five complete in Nashville. Vandy's David Price has struck out six.
"F9" is the scoring designation for a fly ball to right field, and after three innings in the field, I've written that exactly five times on Alabama's portion of the scorecard, as Vandy's right fielder Ryan Davis has already recorded five of the Commodores' nine outs made.
Considering that seven of 'Bama's nine hitters are right-handed, that's a statement of how hard David Price is to hit tonight.
No score after 2 1/2. as the Commodores' Matt Meingasner has just led off the bottom of the third with a single to center.
Vandy's David Price usually settles in around 93-94 MPH with his fastball, but can dial it up to 98 or 99 on a good night.
Tonight looks like a good night; I can't see the radar guns down on the field, but it looked to me like Price may be closer to the high end of his range. He had a little trouble spotting his pitches and walked Jake Smith, but struck out No. 3 hitter Alex Avila, then got Kent Matthes to fly the other way to deep right for the third out.
On my drive to Vanderbilt's Hawkins FIeld, I saw snow flurries, not a normal site for a Nashville April day.
Then again, it's baseball weekend in Nashville, which is a sure-fire recipe for poor weather. While it's hard to feel too sorry for Commodore coach Tim Corbin, who has America's No. 1 team, you have to feel for his plight as he tries to build a fan base in Nashville.
The Hawk" is a beautiful, fan-friendly park with reasonable ticket prices and has just been expanded to almost 2,100 seats, but it's hard to build a fan base (which, BTW, was non-existent before his arrival) if it's 30-45 degrees every game, or raining if it's warmer.
Let's hope this doesn't hurt the Commodores' chances of hosting a Regional or a Super Regional; it shouldn't, as the turnouts have been good on the rare occasions when the weather has been nice, and reasonably good even on the bad weather days. But attendance figures are sometimes the bottom line, and if the selection committee is just looking at butts in seats and not considering how the climate is costing the team hundreds of fans a game... it shouldn't happen, but you never know.
In any case, it'll be Vandy's David Price (5-0, 2.88, 59.1 IP, 89 K's) vs. 'Bama's Miers Quigley (4-0, 2.63, 51.1 IP, 51 K's) in about an hour.
Ole Miss's Jordan Henry had a very impressive at-bat against Weathers, fouling off several two-strike pitches before coaxing a leadoff walk in the ninth. Brother Justin followed with a terrific bunt to third that Pedro Alvarez charged and sent way over first baseman Brad French's head; fortunately for VU, second baseman Alex Feinberg played the ball off the wall in right to keep runners at first and third, but Zack Cozart singled over the bag at second to tie it.
First and second for the Rebels, nobody out in the ninth, tie game.
Alex Feinberg had an infield single, and Pedro Alvarez hit a line drive on the screws to deep center, but Ole Miss's Cody Satterwhite does a good job of pitching to the top of the Vandy order and keeping the Rebels within a run with a scoreless inning.
Casey Weathers begins his warmum tosses in the ninth, as the temperature is up to a balmy 51 here at Hawkins Field.
Casey Weathers just retired the No. 7-9 Ole Miss hitters in order. Weathers has an explosive fastball that he consistently throws 97-98 mph, but it was a terrific slider that he froze Brett Basham with on a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.
It'll be 9-1-2 (Macias, Feinberg, de la Osa) for Vandy in the ninth against Satterwhite, then 1-2-3 (Jordan and Justin Henry, Cozart) for the Rebels vs. Weathers in the bottom of the inning.
Still 5-4 Vandy, as Macias steps in the box to begin the bottom of the eighth.
Vandy's Jonathan White just went the other way, blooping a single inside the line in left off Cody Satterwhite that gave the Commodores a 5-4 lead. Vandy still hititing with men on first and second, and just as I type, White gets picked off first by catcher Brett Basham for out two.
With runners on the corners and two out, it was a matchup of fastball pitcher (Cody Satterwhite) vs. fastball hitter (Dominic de la Osa). De la Osa saw:
fastball OR slider, not sure (take, ball one)
fastball (lined sharply foul down third)
slow slider (take, ball two)
fasball away (fouled the opposite way)
fasball inside... which was hit off the handle to Cody Overbeck at third, which he gathered and threw in plenty of time for the third out.
We go to the seventh, still four apiece at Hawkins Field.
Brett Jacobson's aftenoon is finished as the Rebels have singled twice and have runners on the corners with two outs. Freshman Mike Minor, who has been sensational so far this year, is in to pitch to leadoff man Jordan Henry.
Minor reminds me a lot of former Vandy all-American Jeremy Sowers in that he's a lefty who's unusually-polished for an 18-year old, and throws three pitches consistently for strikes, and his off-speed stuff is terrific.
And as I write, he fans Henry with a change-up swinging
The line on Jacobson: 5 1/3, 4 R, 2 ER, 6 K's, 0 BB, 1 HBP.
Still four apiece, Vandy getting ready to hit in the bottom of the sixth.
With men on first and third against Cody Satterwhite, Commodore coach TIm Corbin sent pinch-hitter Jonathan White in for Andrew Giobbi to stay out of the double-play as Giobbi does not run well, and White is the team's fastest player.
White rolled a slow hit to Cozart at short, which he charged, flipped to Evan Button at second, and Button threw to first to nail White by a foot or two.
We're tied at four and heading to the sixth now, as the temperature is finally approaching 50 degrees at Hawkins Field.
The Commodores got a little offensive luck of their own in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, Alex Feinberg grounded a ball in the hole to deep short that Zack Cozart gloved, turned and made a spectacular accurate throw to first just as he fell on to his back in the outfield. Feinberg is an averge runner at best, but the ball was so deep in the hole that he beat Cozart's throw by about a foot at first.
Next, Dominic de la Osa bounced a ball up the middle just out of Cozart's reach by about a foot, and the Commodores had men on first and second with one down.
Ole Miss's Brett Bukvich didn't want any part of Pedro Alvarez, throwing off-speed stuff out of the zone and issuing a four-pitch walk. Then slumping Ryan Flaherty came to the plate, and on a 2-1 pitch (ball two was a controversial call), lined one that bounced just in front of the warning track in right center, scoring Feinberg and de la Osa.
Shea Robin followed by lining a sharp single past third baseman Cody Overbeck, plating another run and prompting a pitching change.
It's now tied at 4 in the bottom of the fifth, Vandy hitting against Cody Satterwhite with men on the corners nd one away.
Once again, an Ole Miss bleeder bites Vandy. With two out and nobody on, Zack Cozart chopped a ball to third that Pedro Alvarez had to wait on because of a funny hop, and Cozart just beat the throw to first.
Vandy's Brett Jacobson thought he had Andrew Clark struck out on a 2-2 pitch, but umpire Owen Butts ruled it ball three. The next pitch, Clark hit a hard chopper to first that Brad French didn't get his glove out far enough to field, and the ball got into the right field corner where Dominic de la Osa booted it, so Cozart scored and Clark took third.
Then, Jacobson sailed a wild pitch past catcher Shea Robin for a second Rebel run.
Ole Miss 4, Vandy 1 heading to the bottom of the fifth.
Vandy's Matt Meingasner just hit a solo shot on a 2-2 pitch with two outs in the fourth off Mississippi's Brett Bukvich to cut the Rebel lead to 2-1. I didn't think the ball would get out when it left the bat, as it was essentially a line drive that was hit harder than it appeared as it wound up easily clearing the 375 sign in left-center.
That's a shot in the arm for a struggling offense, especially No. 3 and 4 hitters Pedro Alvarez and Ryan Flaherty, who've been quiet most of the weekend.
Brad French pops the first pitch to left, so we'll go to the fifth with the Rebels still up.
Ole Miss has hit the ball hard once today on Overbeck's home run, but the Rebels have five hits to show for their effort.
Missisippi's Justin Henry led off the third with a slow chopper to short that Ryan Flaherty couldn't come up with. Then, Zach Cozart, on almost a defensive swing on a 2-2 pitch, blooped a ball the other way into right for a single and Henry took third.
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco has been agressive on the bases all series, and then sent Cozart on a steal of second. Catcher Shea Robin alertly threw back to pitcher Brett Jacobson, who saw Henry wandering off third, which resulted in a 2-1-5-2 putout. Cozart alertly took third on the play.
Jacobson struck out Andrew Clark swinging, then hit Overbeck with a pitch. But he fought back to get Logan Power on a 6-4 force, and got out of the inning.
Nashville: More scoring for the Rebels in the second
With Logan Power on first, C.J. Ketchum hit what could have been a double-play ball to Flaherty at short. But Flaherty booted it, giving the Rebels men on first and second.
Brett Jacobson struck out Evan Button, but Brett Basham bounced a single again just out of Flaherty's reach at short, and Power crossed the plate just ahead of a great throw from David Macias in center. Jacobson recovered to strike out Jordan Henry to end the inning, leaving two Rebels on.
Ole Miss's Cody Overbeck just hit a solo shot WAY out of Hawkins Field off Brett Jacobson to give the Rebels an early 1-0 lead. Now, Logan Power follows by chopping a single just out of the reach of Flaherty at short, and Ole Miss has a man on with one out.
Vandy got a leadoff single from Alex Feinberg, and Dominic de la Osa was hit by a pitch to start the second.
But Mississippi's Brett Bukvich got Pedro Alvarez to pop up, and Ryan Flaherty appeared to single over Zach Cozart's head. But Feinberg held up thinking the ball would be caught, and Cozart nailed him easily on a force at third. Shea Robin struck out to end the inning.
Once again, it's a 45-degree day in Nashville, though there's not a cloud in the sky, which makes the cold more bearable... well, I guess I should say more bearable for the fans, since I'm not exactly suffering in a climate-controlled press box!
A lineup change for Vandy today, as David Macias, who has hit leadoff in just about every game for Tim Corbin the last two seasons, is in the nine-hole today. Macias is an on-base machine who's been struggling of late, and it's likely that Corbin has bumped him down to keep him from pressing, which he's done later.
Pitching for Vandy will be Brett Jacobson (2.33, 4-0 27 IP with 5 BB and 24 K's) against Ole Miss's Brett Bukvich (2.10, 3-1, 6, 19). We'll see if either can duplicate the fantastic feats of Vandy's David Price, who threw a 14-K, 10-inning complete game on Friday in a 3-2 win, or Mississippi's Lance Lynn, who no-hit Vandy until the 8th yesterday in beating the Commodores 6-1.
Lance Lynn lost his no-hitter, but with men on second and third and two outs and perhaps the nation's best hitter at the plate, recovered nicely to preserve a 6-1 lead.
Lynn fanned Pedro Alvarez on a high fastball, which is an extraordinary feat considering Alvarez's bat is one of the quickest around. Lynn has been very, very impressive and getting stronger as he nears the 120-pitch mark.
Lance Lynn just lost his no-hitter on a David Macias flare to center. Earlier, Lynn had hit Alex Feinberg with a pitch after Matt Meingasner reached on a error.
So, the Commodores have the bases loaded with one out... Dominic de la Osa steps in and hits a soft grounder up the middle... he's out on a close play at first, but a run scores and Vandy trails 6-1 now.
Lance Lynn just gets sharper as we keep going, getting a grounder from Pedro Alvarez right at the second baseman, then a weak tapper from cleanup hitter Ryan Flaherty before striking out Kurt Lipton looking on a beautiful pitch to end the inning.
Ole Miss just tacked on another run with its eleventh hit to take a 6-0 lead, then Vandy followed with a 1-2-3 sixth in its turn at bat. The Rebels' Lance Lynn still has his no-hitter intact, and has given up just a pair of walks.
Neither team's having trouble putting the ball in play, but things just seem to be breaking the Rebels' way, as Ole Miss has four infield singles by our count, and a couple more bleeders that got through. The odd thing is that the three hardest balls the Rebels in the series came last night on an evening in which the Rebels managed just a pair of runs in 10 innings.
Meanwhile, Ole Miss's Lance Lynn has struck out just three hitters, but everything the Commodores put in play seems to find a mitt. Vandy'a Pedro Alvarez and Matt Meingasner both tattooed balls that might have been out on other days in Nashville, but wound up being warning-track fly balls.
However, Lynn seems to be getting stronger as the day goes on. Lynn fanned two of his three in the sixth.
Ole Miss's Lance Lynn has the no-hitter intact, retiring No. 6-8 hitters Kurt Lipton, Matt Meingasner and Alex Feinberg in order. Meingasner gave a ball a ride to the edge of the warning track in right center, but on a day when the ball's not carrying at Hawkins Field, it's recorded as a harmless out.
Mississippi 5, Vandy 0, as the Rebels get set to hit in the sixth.
Ole Miss got a leadoff single from Andrew Clark, then a bleeder off the end of the bat that got through the right side from Cody Overbeck to give the Rebels a first-and-third off Cody Crowell.
But second baseman Evan Button bounced one over the bag at second that Ryan Flaherty grabbed, flipped almost behind him to Alex Feinberg at second, and Feinberg got Button at first in time for the 6-4-3 DP.
Still 5-0 Ole Miss as the Commodores look for their first hit as we go to the fifth.
Vanderbilt's offense is notoriously slow-starting, and Ole Miss's Lance Lynn is taking advantage of it.
Staked to a 5-0 lead, Lynn has faced ten batters in three innings, giving up just a leadoff walk in the first to David Macias. Lynn has struck out just once against a Commodore squad that doesn't strike out a lot (an average of just over five times a game) and has four fly-ball outs and three ground-ball outs.
Vandy's Nick Christiani on the hil four the fourth, facing the 8-9-1 hitters for the Rebels.
Ole Miss has struck for two more runs in the second after Vandy went scoreless in the bottom of the first. Logan Power singled to left, and then Jordan Henry topped a ball that pitcher Nick Christiani let roll down the first base line.
The ball stayed fair, and the Rebels had runners on the corners. Then, Justin Henry lined a triple that was fair by inches inside the right field foul line scoring two more.
Christiani got two line-outs to end the inning, but the Rebels have a commanding 5-0 lead against a Vandy team whose offense has struggled of late, and struggled mightily in the first two or three innings.
The first inning has been a difficult one for notoriously slow-starting Nick Christiani. Ole Miss's Jordan Henry beat out a bunt to start the game, then Justin Henry and Zack Cozart singled. Mix in a run-scoring wild pitch in-between, and the Rebels are out to a 2-0 lead with nobody out.
Vanderbilt's Pedro Alvarez doubled to left with one out in the ninth, bringing Ryan Flahertry to the plate. Flaherty lined to center on the first pitch, bringing Shea Robin to the plate with two outs. Robin took three balls, then Ole Miss's Scott Bittle intentionally passed him to bring up Jonathan White, who pinch-ran for Andrew Giobbi in the ninth.
White then lined a single in the hole between first and second, and a charging right fielder Jordan Henry bobbled the ball in his haste to make the throw home. Alvarez scored easily, and Vanderbilt clinched its 11th come-from-behind win to go an amazing 20-0 on the season.
David Price pitches a 10-inning, 14 strikeout game for Vandy... could a fourth national pitcher of the week honor be around the corner?
Vandy's David Price just threw a scoreless tenth, striking out his 14th hitter and giving Vandy a chance to win with a run in the bottom of the tenth. Price has now thrown approximately 140 pitches. Stay tuned from Nashville...
Alex Feinberg grounded behind the bag to second with men on first and second, and Ole Miss's Zach Miller flipped to the bag for the second out. Feinberg took first, and Andrew Giobbi advanced to third.
Feinberg stole second on ball one to Brad French, then French took a five-pitch walk, the third ball of which nearly got by catcher Brett Basham.
David Macias was up next for Vandy, and with the bases loaded, Macias grounded into a close 4-1 play at first.
We'll go to the 10th, with Price coming out to pitch the "free baseball" portion of the game having already thrown 121 pitches.
Matt Meingasner went the other way on a 2-2 pitch, looping a single to right, Vandy's Tim Corbin sent Shea Robin from second, and right fielder Jordan Henry's throw beat Robin, but it was up the line to 3rd and Robin slid around the tag.
2-2, 1 out in the ninth, Vandy with men on first and second.
David Price recovered from a rough sixth to cruise through the seventh. Price got a ground-ball out to start the first, then struck out Logan Power and Zach Miller--both of whom doubled the last time up--to end the inning. Price fanned Miller on an absolutely nasty slider for his 11th K of the game.
2-1 Ole Miss, as Vandy comes to bat in the bottom of the seventh.
Sports Information Director Thomas Samuel just informed me that it's Price's fifth-straight double-digit strikeout game.
One would think the scouting report would have made it around the league to NEVER throw Dominic de la Osa a first-pitch fastball.
Evidently Will Kline either didn't get the memo, or Kline thought he could sneak one by Vandy's No. 2 hitter. De la Osa jumped all over a fastball that looked about waist-high and over the outer half of the plate that cleared the 310-foot "Green Monster" in left in about two seconds and landed on the roof of Memorial Gym. SEBaseball's Mark Ethridge and were trying to judge the distance; Mark thinks the ball went at least 370 or 380 feet, and I think it might have gone further considering the gym is 20 feet behind the roof and the roof's about 25 feet off the ground.
In any case, Vandy's Pedro Alvarez follwed by grounding out 3-1 on a controversial play at first, and Ryan Flaherty grounded out hard to second.
It's 2-1 Ole Miss as we head to the top of the seventh.
After dominating most of the game, Vandy's David Price had a rough sixth. Price walked Jordan Henry to lead off the inning, then evidently nicked his brother Justin as he tried to bunt. Before he could throw a pitch, Price balked both runners up a base.
Cozart lined out to left, and Jordan Henry tagged and scored. Justin Henry then stole third, and Price hit cleanup hitter Cody Overbeck with an 0-2 pitch, prompting a visit from Vandy coach Tim Corbin.
Price recovered to strike out C.J. Ketchup by freezing him with a terrific slider, then looked up in plenty of time as Henry tried to steal home. He flipped to catcher Shea Robin just in time to catch Justin Henry, and the Rebels converted three baserunners into just one run.
2-0 Rebels, as Vandy brings its 1-2-3 hitters David Macias, Dominic de la Osa and Pedro Alvarez to the dish in the bottom of the sixth.
David Price had no-hit Ole Miss through 4 2/3 inningsd, but Logan Power doubled to the gap in right center, and then Zach Miller followed with another double the other way to the exact same spot for a 1-0 Rebel lead.
Price re-couped to fan Brett Basham to end the inning, but the Rebels have a 1-0 lead as Vandy will send its 7-8-9 hitters Matt Meingasner, Alex Feinberg and Brad French coming to the plate in the bottom of the fifth.
Vandy's David Price has retired all nine hitters he's faced, and Mississippi's Will Kline wiggled out of trouble again in the third. Vandy had men on first and second with one out, but No. 2 hitter Dominic de la Osa flied to deep left, and Alvarez bounced into a 4-3 groundout to end it.
Price on to face the 1-2-3 hitters in the fourth, still scoreless in Nashville.
Vandy's David Price has fanned four with a nice slider to compliment a devastating fastball, and Will Kline has struck out three with a nice mix of fastballs and off-speed pitches. Vandy's Shea Robin has the game's only hit.
Two of the SEC's best will take the hill in Nashville in just seconds now.
Vandy's David Price (2.52, 4-0, 35.2 IP and a whopping 57 K's against just 7 BB) will throw against Ole Miss's Will Kline (1.87, 3-0, 33.2 IP, 45 K, 11 BB) on what is about a 46-degree night in Nashville.
The Commodores' Tyler Rhoden threw a scoreless ninth to close out a school-record 18th-consecutive win. Expect Vandy to remain No. 1 or No. 2 in all the national polls once again this week, as the Commodores get a mid-week game against cross-town rival Belmont on Wednesday before Ole Miss comes to Nashville next week to open the SEC season.
More than likely, freshman sensation Mike Minor will start against the Bruins at Greer Stadium, the home park of the Nashville Sounds, AAA affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Cody Crowell's second inning hasn't gone as smoothly as his 1-2-3 seventh did. Crowell have up a single to left and walked two batters before giving up a towering grand slam to No. 6 hitter Tyler Moore that landed on the roof of Memorial Gymansium.
Now, Crowell gets David Cales to pop to right, and Vandy bats in the bottom of the eighth with a 14-5 lead as "Sweet Caroline" plays over the P.A. system.
Vandy reserve Adam Cronk is perhaps the Commoodres' best batting-practice hitter outside Pedro Alvarez, but in his third year at Vandy, has yet to really make a mark on the field in his three-year career.
But with the Commodores blowing out Illinois-Chicago 11-1, Cronk got to pinch-hit for Kurt Lipton in the seventh. With two men on, smashed a towering home run on to the basketball concourse in right-center, a shot that traveled well over 400 feet for the first home run and accounted for the second, third and fourth RBI's of his career.
Cronk, a popular teammate, was mobbed at home by teammates, and looked relieved as he crossed home plate after breaking the power drought in his 28th career at-bat.
It's 14-1 Vandy, as the Commodores have now finished their turn at the dish in the seventh.
We've got a yawner as we go to the seventh-inning stretch in Nashville. Vanderbilt leads Illinois-Chicago 11-1, and Brett Jacobson's day is done. The right-hander is in line for his fourth win, as Cody Crowell just pitched a scoreless seventh in relief for Vandy.
There's not much noteable about the last couple of innings, except Vandy's David Macias recorded his second outfield assist on the afternoon (and the team's third) when he just missed a diving attempt at a looping fly ball, but UIC's Brett Schaeffer got caught in between first and second not knowing whether it would be caught or not, and didn't get to second in time.
Brian Harris leads off the seventh for Vandy with a single... that's the Commodores' 17th hit today.
After dropping the previous two games to Vandy and now trailing 10-1 in the top of the fifth, UIC just hit into another inexplicable double-play, causing me to wonder if some players are just ready to get home.
On a routine pop-up to Vandy's David Macias in center by Nick Rainwater, UIC's David Cales, who was on second when the play started, went halfway to third and watched Macias make the play. He took his time getting back to the bag, and Macias consequently gunned him at second for the second outfield-initiated double play in five innings.
10-1 Vandy as Pedro Alvarez leads off the fifth for the Commodores.
Much of the focus on Vandy's 17-0 start has been on all-Americans David Price and Pedro Alvarez. But credit for th e development of what is perhaps America's top pitching staff goes in large part to pitching coach Derek Johnson.
With the Vanderbilt offense struggling through a three-hit day, the Commodores' pitching staff picked up the slack. Vandy's Nick Christiani, Stephen Shao and Casey Weathers combined to shut out Illinois-Chicago, with Christiani fanning eight and walking just one.
With the victory, the top-ranked Commodores move to 17-0 on the season.
Vandy's Stephen Shao did his job, getting a ground-ball out and a fly ball to center to get out of the eighth. Commodores still lead 1-0, and send No's 5-7 (Shea Robin, Andrew Giobbi, Alex Feinberg) to the dish in the seventh.
Vandy's Nick Christiani, after getting a strikeout to start the eighth, just gave up singles to the No. 8 and 9 hitters David Cales and Erik Whinery. That prompted a visit from coach Tim Corbin, and a call to the bullpen for senior lefty setup man Steve Shao, who has been money in the clutch over the course of his career in these situations.
Two on, one out for UIC in the top of the eighth, Vandy still up 1-0.
Whatever scouting report Illinois-Chicago had on Vanderbilt appears to be working. The Commodores have just two hits today, and have scored just three runs in 16 innings against UIC. The Flames' Steve Crnkovich just keeps cruising, and has allowed baserunners only in the fifth.
The good news for Vandy is that Nick Christiani is equally-sharp. The right-hander is clinging to a 1-0 lead heading to the eighth, and has retired the last eight hitters he's faced.
Illinois-Chicago's Steve Crnkovich was perfect through four innings, but an error by second baseman David Cales allowed Shea Robin to reach and helped get Vandy started. Andrew Giobbi followed with a single, and on a double-steal, Robin was thrown out at third.
But Vandy's Alex Feinberg followed with a two-out double down the line in left for the game's first run. It's now 1-0 Vandy after five complete.
Nashville: Pitching ruling the day early after two
David Price fanned 16 last night in Vandy's 2-1 win, and UIC's Zach Peterson also pitched seven strong innings, giving up just two runs and fanning seven. So far today, it looks like a repeat performance of pitching excellence in Nashville.