Vanderbilt sweeps Sunday doubleheader vs. Pepperdine

Photo by Mattigan Kelly

Photo by Mattigan Kelly

Betsy Goodfriend, Senior Writer

The Vanderbilt Commodores won both games of a doubleheader on Sunday against Pepperdine after a rain-soaked weekend washed out the first two days of the weekend series.

Mother Nature cooperated on Sunday after a rainy weekend cancelled Friday’s game and postponed Saturday’s game until Sunday morning.

“All fall we’ve been training in this weather like rainy weather,” said Cooper Davis. “We were ready to play until [Coach Corbin] came into the locker room and said ‘Hey, shut it down.’ And we did the same thing Saturday morning, ready to come to the field to play.”

Vanderbilt won Game One of the doubleheader 6-3. Pitcher Drake Fellows picked up his second win of the season after allowing just one one in six inning of work, striking out nine batters in the process. Mason Hickman allowed two runs in three innings, but still earned the save.

In the morning game, Austin Martin went 4-for-5 with two RBIs. Philip Clarke added two more hits and two RBIs to lead the Commodores.

Vanderbilt won the second game 6-2 to sweep the doubleheader.

Wearing their new Salute to Service uniforms, the Commodores played with a purpose on Sunday.

Coach Tim Corbin said, “I wanted [the uniforms] to have some significance. With the green, the thought, which I thought about a couple of years ago, the fact that it was green to celebrate the veterans, but also olive green signifies hope, too. The hope for our country and the hope for people coming together, and I look at our campus and I look at our country and I look at our team, and we’re very diverse.”

Senior Patrick Raby started Game Two of the doubleheader on the mound for Vanderbilt. In four innings of work, he allowed two hits and two runs while striking out five batters.

Vanderbilt got on the board early in the bottom of the first inning. Cooper Davis hit a leadoff single up the middle, and Martin followed with a single to right field. With runners on the corners and no outs, JJ Bleday hit a blooper into center field to score Davis from third and put Vanderbilt up 1-0.

Davis said, “[Martin] is hitting amazing behind me. He couldn’t be doing a better job, and I just love the opportunity to try to get on base for him to do something special.”

In the bottom of the third inning, Martin singled and Bleday found a gap in shallow left-center field to bring up Stephen Scott with runners on the corners and no outs. Scott hit a sacrifice fly to deep center field to score Martin.

Pepperdine answered in the top of the fourth when Reese Alexiades hit a two-out, two-run single that dribbled into the outfield. Vanderbilt had him caught between first and second when he tried to stretch the hit into a double, but no one was covering first base, so Alexiades ran back there safely.

With the game tied 2-2, Vanderbilt’s offense stayed patient in the bottom of the fourth. Ethan Paul hit a leadoff double to start the inning. With two outs, Cooper Davis drew a walk on a full count. Martin drew another walk, with nearly every pitch out of his reach on the outside corner. Bleday stepped up to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded. He hit a foul ball into Vanderbilt Stadium next door before drawing a full-count walk to score Paul and give Vanderbilt a 3-2 lead.

Raby was relieved by freshman Kumar Rocker in the fifth inning. Rocker struck out the side in the fifth inning, and ended his afternoon with five strikeout and no runs allowed in three frames. After a rough outing against TCU last Sunday, Rocker bounced back and was virtually unhittable.

Corbin said of Rocker, “I didn’t think too much about that outing last week. I know what he’s capable of doing.”

The offense was not done yet. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Clarke hit a booming leadoff home run to right field to extend the lead to 4-2. Pat DeMarco singled up the middle. Jayson Gonzalez drew a walk before Ty Duvall, pinch hitting for designated hitter Dominic Keegan, flew out to shallow left field. With two outs, Cooper Davis hit a triple to right to score DeMarco and Gonzalez.

Davis has been on a tear as the leadoff hitter and starting left fielder this season after missing most of last year with a broken wrist.

“What I focused on all fall was building myself to be the leadoff guy who can help the team win every day,” said Davis.

Corbin said, “Leadoff hitters are very difficult to find. They’re tough to find from the standpoint of doing the things they need to do to reach base.”

He continued, “Cooper seems to relish that spot.”

Tyler Brown entered to pitch the eighth inning, and he retired the side after a Gonzalez fielding error allowed a leadoff runner.

Jake Eder picked up the save with a 1-2-3 ninth inning. Eder, who has made three appearances this season, has allowed just one hit and no runs in three innings of work this year.

Vanderbilt moves to 5-1 on the season and hosts five games at home next week starting with Tuesday’s matchup against Southeastern Missouri State.