On an unusually warm February afternoon, the Commodores’ bats were hot as they breezed to a 7-1 win against Presbyterian College.
In the first of a two-game set, Vanderbilt exploded for a four-run seventh inning to seal the victory. Freshmen continued to deliver for the Commodores, with Austin Martin and Pat DeMarco combining to go 7 for 9 and responsible for over half the team’s hits in the win.
Second baseman Ethan Paul got the scoring started early with a solo homer to left field in the bottom of the first. Presbyterian starting pitcher Austin Paradis would soon settle in after that, shutting out the Commodores through the next four innings.
Paradis ran into trouble in the 6th. DeMarco sent a hard grounder into left-center and legged it out to turn a would-be single into a double. Two consecutive walks later, Paradis was knocked out of the game, and the bases were loaded with no outs for third baseman Jayson Gonzalez. Gonzalez grounded into a double play, scoring DeMarco from third base and extending the Commodores’ lead to 2-0.
After a 1-2-3 top of the 7th from freshman left-hander Hugh Fisher, Vanderbilt carried its momentum into the bottom half. Austin Martin started it off with a double into the left-center gap. Connor Kaiser followed with a single to left field, scoring Martin and advancing to second on the throw.
Presbyterian reliever Andrew Durden walked the next batter to set up DeMarco with two on and one out. The freshman delivered, driving the ball off the left field wall to score two and widening Vanderbilt’s lead to 5-0. Stephen Scott, the seventh Commodore to step up to the plate in the inning, ripped a two-out double down the right field line to score DeMarco. Vanderbilt would add another in the bottom of the 8th on a Kaiser fielder’s choice to bring the score to 7-0 going into the 9th.
Presbyterian couldn’t get much going offensively throughout the game, notching only five total hits. Vanderbilt starting pitcher Maddux Conger pitched five mostly uneventful innings, giving up three hits and fanning five on his way to his first win of the season. Freshman Hugh Fisher pitched two perfect innings before being replaced by redshirt freshman Reid Schaller, who made his debut after missing the 2017 season following elbow surgery. Presbyterian would break the shutout in the top of the 9th on a fielder’s choice to the pitcher.
The 7-1 victory added to DeMarco’s hot start, with the freshman going 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs and delivering his 11th hit in four games to lead the team.
“He’s relaxed, and he enjoys playing. Right now, he’s in a good little streak, ” head coach Tim Corbin said of DeMarco. “He’s a baseball player, and he plays the game hard. He plays to win and he competes. He’s played well, and he’s actually done that since the time he got on campus in August, too. He just really enjoys playing the game, and he’s fun to watch.”
The 13th-ranked Commodores will again face Presbyterian tomorrow at 4 p.m., followed by a weekend series against UMass-Lowell.