In the series finale with the Illinois-Chicago Flames, the Vanderbilt Commodores dropped an early lead to lose the game 5-2 and the series 2-1.
Even with an impressive double play in the ninth, the ‘Dores, now 2-2 at home and 4-3 for the season, will have to make improvements to keep up their record of successful seasons.
Here are five takeaways from Sunday’s game:
The Commodore offense was in full gear during the first inning. With UIC pitcher Birlingmair walking JJ Bleday and Commodore Will Toffey hitting a single, it was all lined up for a couple of runs in the inning. Right away, Julian Infante hit a single to send both Bleday and Toffey running home, putting Vanderbilt up 2-0.
But that was the last time for the day that Commodore fans would be cheering for a run. Aside from those two, the rest of Vanderbilt’s seven hits were sprinkled throughout the remainder of game, never totaling more than one in any inning.
Carrying the offense was Jason Delay, with three of the ‘Dores’ hits.
Capitalizing on errors
Although the game didn’t end in Vanderbilt’s favor, there were plays during which the ‘Dores took advantage of the Flames’ mistakes.
The first of these decisive exploitations came in the first inning. Thanks to a mishap from UIC third baseman Brandon Gibis that resulted in the loss of his glove and the ball’s rolling up to the Vandy dugout, two of the Commodores’ runners successfully made it home.
The second came in the fourth inning. A gutsy move by Delay resulted in a double due to a dropped ball by second baseman David Cronin, putting the ‘Dores once again within striking distance.
‘Dore defense under pressure
Late game, the Vandy’s defense was inconsistent. Although the three runs in the 11th were the result of a home run, the Vanderbilt defense still made several mistakes throughout the final innings.
However, getting outs at both third and first bases, a double play in the ninth showed the optimal state of the Commodore defense. Despite the unfavorable result, there is plenty of potential in the Vandy defense.
Yes, the ‘Dores were already struggling with hits during the game. Here’s the “why.”
While the Commodores made plenty of contact with the ball, the ball, remarkably, almost always ended up in a Flame mitt. Any ground or fly ball hit made its way toward where it hurt the ‘Dores. Whenever the ball sailed away from the Flames, the Commodores capitalized and got closer to reaching home plate.
Daring Drake Fellows
One great takeaway from the Sunday game was the bright potential of starting pitcher Drake Fellows. Fellows, a freshman from Plainfield, Illinois, thew 105 pitches, giving up only two runs.
“I’m just doing my job,” said Fellows.
Apparently his job includes earning nine strikeouts and facing 28 batters.
“I’m proud of him,” said head coach Tim Corbin. “He’s managed his experiences pretty well up to this point … He’s kept us in ballgames, that’s for sure.”