Three thoughts: Commodores start series by blowing lead to Florida

Vanderbilt pitchers struggled with runners on base.

Patrick Raby took his time

To begin the game, Raby was dealing and working quickly, setting the Gators down in order in the first and working a relatively easy second. He would get the ball out of his hand about as soon as it got there on the throw from catcher Jason Delay, and the game had a great pace early on. As runners began to get on against Raby, however, his pace changed drastically. Whereas in the beginning of the game Raby could get off around three pitches per minute, the number dropped to one with runners on base. It seemed that he was being a bit too cautious about the runners on the base paths, as the slower pace also induced more balls to Gator batters. What was a lively game for the first few innings became a drawn-out, methodical affair simply based on the pace of Raby. If there were any time for a pitch clock with runners on, it would have been Thursday.

Florida leadoff runners allow it to claw back

Starting in the fourth inning, the Gators got the leadoff runner on in each remaining inning against Vanderbilt pitching, leading the Commodores to have to work hard to get through the innings. By getting the leadoff runners on, Florida put a good amount of pressure on the Commodore pitching staff and extended innings, mounting pressure on the pitchers as the innings wore on and the score crept closer. Florida kept rallies going by continually establishing an offensive presence as soon as its half of the inning began, keeping it in the game even when the score was tilted in Vanderbilt’s favor.

The leadoff runner getting on also forced the Commodores to work out of the stretch, and it was clear that the pitchers were a bit fazed by the runners on. As runners got on early, counts began running higher. The Vanderbilt pitch count soared while the Gators worked the count in their favor, wearing down the Commodore pitching staff before the Gators broke the game open in the ninth.

Vandy played small ball for its runs

As they have in prior games this year, the Commodores tacked on runs playing small ball. In the second inning, Vanderbilt capitalized on good base-running and Florida errors to score two runs on bunts from Alonzo Jones and JJ Bleday. In the fourth inning, the Commodores got more good fortune from the Florida defense. With a man on first, a sharply hit ball from Jones up the middle bounced off the glove of Florida shortstop Dalton Guthrie, putting men on second and third with no outs in the inning. The Commodores pushed both runs across without recording a hit, scoring on groundouts by Connor Kaiser and Ro Coleman, respectively.

All in all, Florida starter Alex Faedo gave up one earned run, but Vanderbilt scored five with him on the mound simply due to Gator errors and good base-running. Jeren Kendall broke the streak of small ball with a solo home run to lead off the sixth inning that gave the Commodores a 6-3 lead.

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