Vanderbilt defeats Dayton 11-3

The Vandy Boys beat Southeast Missouri State 11-3 on Tuesday, February, 26, 2019. (Photo by Emily Gonçalves)

The Vandy Boys beat Southeast Missouri State 11-3 on Tuesday, February, 26, 2019. (Photo by Emily Gonçalves)

Betsy Goodfriend, Senior Writer

In the first of a three-game weekend series, Vanderbilt defeated the Dayton Flyers 11-3, bouncing back from a close loss to Austin Peay on Wednesday.

After leaving 13 runners on base in Wednesday’s loss and 12 against Southeastern Missouri on Tuesday, Vanderbilt made sure to bring its baserunners home today.

In the bottom of the second inning, Stephen Scott was hit by a pitch, and Pat DeMarco hit a dribbler past first base to move him to third base. A balk scored Scott and advanced DeMarco to second. Philip Clarke doubled to left field to bring DeMarco home and give the Commodores a 2-0 lead.

Dayton responded with two runs of their own in the top of the third. The Flyers strung together three singles. With a wild pitch and a fielder’s choice, Dayton tied up the game.

The tie would be broken up soon after. JJ Bleday hit a solo home run to left field, his team-leading third home run of the season. Bleday, who had four home runs all season last year, has been on a hot streak to start this year. He was batting .441 coming into tonight’s game with a .647 slugging percentage.

The Commodores tacked on two more runs in the fourth inning. Designated hitter Justyn-Henry Malloy walked, then advanced to second on a wild pitch.

Both teams suffered from a lot of wild pitches. Fellows threw two wild pitches, and Dayton’s pitchers combined for six wild pitches on the night.

Harrison Ray walked before Cooper Davis doubled along the right field line to score Malloy. Ray would score from third on Austin Martin’s ground out.

The next inning, Clarke and Ethan Paul hit back-to-back singles. Clarke would score from third base on a wild pitch.

Ray earned another walk, one of six free passes given out by Dayton pitchers. He would later steal second base before scoring on Davis’ two-RBI double to left field. Davis set a career-high with three RBIs.

Coach Tim Corbin said of Davis, “He’s driving in runs. He had flashes of strength. He hits the ball down both lines. He’s doing everything that you need to do as a leadoff hitter.”

Vanderbilt’s consistent scoring allowed them to build up an 8-3 lead by the sixth inning.

Corbin said, “There was just a pretty good offensive push the whole game.”

The run support was more than enough for starting pitcher Drake Fellows.

Fellows set a new career-high with 13 strikeouts in six innings of work.

Corbin said, “I don’t think any of those strikeouts were easy. They were difficult. They made it difficult on him. He threw a lot of pitches the first part of the game, and he couldn’t really command his breaking ball as well as he has.”

He got into a few jams, and allowed two earned runs in the third inning to briefly tie up the game. But, he was able to get out of those jams with the strikeout. He allowed five hits and three earned runs in a solid outing.

“As the game wore on, he got better,” said Corbin. “It’s a good effort. It wasn’t easy for him at all.”

Mason Hickman relieved Fellows in the top of the seventh inning. Hickman allowed three hits and one walk in three innings of relief. The sophomore entered Friday allowing just 1.25 WHIP, or walks plus hits per inning pitched, good for third on the team.

Martin had an RBI single to score Davis in the eighth inning. Martin extended his hitting streak to 19 games dating back to last May. JJ Bleday is also riding a 19-game hitting streak.

Entering this weekend, Martin ranked second in the country with 20 hits.

Bleday walked, and he and Martin advanced to second and third, respectively on a wild pitch. Stephen Scott was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs for DeMarco. He popped up to center-right field, but Martin was able to tag up and score the 10th run.

Clarke walked to load the bases again for Ethan Paul. Paul hit a sacrifice fly to score Bleday. Ty Duvall hit an infield popup to end the inning.

Hickman closed out the top of the ninth to earn the save.

Vanderbilt faces Dayton again on Saturday in a doubleheader at Hawkins Field, the second doubleheader for the Commodores in less than a week.