The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Martin goes yard twice, Commodores win seventh in a row

Ethan Smith struck out seven in the game, bringing his strikeout total to 17 through 12 innings pitched on the season.
Mattigan Kelly
Cooper Davis (3) slides home.

Another dominant outing by a Commodore starting pitcher combined with two home-runs from Austin Martin made for a commanding 10-2 victory for Vanderbilt over the Saint Louis Billikens. 

Ethan Smith went his second consecutive game without allowing an earned run as he tossed five innings of shutout baseball. He threw seven strikeouts and gave up just two hits, though he did walk three batters. Twice Smith was faced with runners on first and second, but both times he calmly worked himself out of the jam. 

“[Smith’s] been aggressive, has good pace,” Coach Tim Corbin said. “It’s been two weeks in a row but it’s not really surprising with Ethan. Ethan’s a good pitcher and he’s a winning pitcher.”

Smith got some help from his freshman catcher CJ Rodriguez who made several impressive stops with his glove, in addition to connecting with Carter Young twice to throw out Billiken runners attempting to steal second. 

Rodriguez also helped lead the charge on the offensive end, recording 2 hits and 2 RBIs. Additionally, Ty Duvall had another strong outing in the designated hitter spot as he went 3-4 at the plate. 

The story of the game, at least on the offensive end, was the bat of Austin Martin. Martin had not homered during his first eight games of the season and got off to a somewhat slow offensive start by his standards in the MLB4 Tournament. The junior utility man has sure found his power stroke recently though, homering three times in his last two games. Martin went deep twice tonight and batted in four of Vanderbilt’s ten runs.

“It’s good for the team; it’s just good to score runs,” Corbin said of Martin’s homers. “Sooner or later he was going to get to the barrel and he has done it in some difficult situations too.”

The Commodores broke the game open with a five run half-inning in the bottom of the second. After the first two batters reached, Harrison Ray hit an RBI single to score Parker Noland. Three hitters later, Rodriguez hit a slow dribbler to second base that the Billikens were unable to convert into a double play ball, allowing Vanderbilt to get another runner across the plate. 

The biggest play of the inning, however, was Martin’s bomb over the high wall in left field. The three RBI homer, his first of the game, gave Vanderbilt a 5-0 lead. 

“[It was] just a matter of time until I start running into a couple [of pitches],” Martin said. “Just trying to put good swings on the ball. All year I feel like I’ve had good [at-bats] and I’ve been barreling up a lot of baseballs. It was just a matter of time before they started leaving the yard and finding the gaps.”

The Commodore bats picked up right where they left off in the third. An error by Saint Louis shortstop Matthew Happ on Carter Young’s ground ball scored Isaiah Thomas, and the Commodores sent two more home in the inning off the bats of Cooper Davis and CJ Rodriguez respectively. 

In the top of the sixth, Nick Maldonado entered the game in relief of Smith. Maldonado quickly found himself in a jam with men on the corners and just one out. He settled in, however, and got George Sutherland to pop-up to second before he ended the inning by striking out Sam Polk. 

Maldonado quickly got to two outs quickly in the seventh, but he was unable to get out of the inning cleanly. He surrendered three consecutive hits to the top of the Billiken’s order, and they cut into the lead to make it 9-2. 

Martin’s second homer of the night was a solo shot to deep center, which put the Commodores up 10-2 in the bottom of the eighth.

After only having pitched one inning all year, Erik Kaiser pitched the final two frames for the Commodores, and he struck all six batters he faced.

“We are all big fans of Erik,” Corbin said. “He’s a kid that’s been in this program for three years and always hasn’t gotten opportunity but he keeps developing. He’s got a really good arm and his strikes and his pace have improved a lot from last year, so I’m very happy for him.”

With having such a large lead for most of the game, Corbin used the opportunity to get multiple players off the bench some run. Will Duff, Spencer Jones and Tate Kolwyck all had an at-bat, though none could record a hit.

Additionally, Dominic Keegan made his first appearance of the season after being sidelined due to injury for the first nine games. The sophomore first basemen reached on an infield single and was also hit by a pitch twice.

The Commodores return to action on Friday, Feb. 28 when they host Hawaii at Hawkins Field in the first of a three game set.


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About the Contributors
Alyssa Muir, Former Deputy Sports Editor
Alyssa Muir ('21) was Deputy Sports Editor for The Vanderbilt Hustler. She majored in economics with minors in business and sociology. When she has free time, she can usually be found binge-watching Grey's Anatomy or rooting on her hometown teams, the Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Lightning. For tips and comments, feel free to reach out to: [email protected].    
Mattigan Kelly, Former Deputy Multimedia Director
Mattigan Kelly ('22) was Deputy Multimedia Director for The Vanderbilt Hustler. She has been on the staff since her freshman year. Mattigan majored in chemical engineering in the School for Engineering. In addition to shooting for The Hustler, she was the Development Coordinator for Camp Kesem at Vanderbilt, works in a research lab on campus and plays Club Tennis.
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