Vanderbilt defeats Lipscomb 11-3 in nonconference matchup

The Commodores fell behind early but stormed back with 11 unanswered runs.


Hugh Fisher on the mound in Vanderbilt’s 11-3 win over Lipscomb. (Twitter/@VandyBoys)

Andy Carr, Staff Writer

Following their loss Sunday afternoon at the hands of the South Carolina Gamecocks, the now top-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores got back in the win column, defeating the Lipscomb Bison 11-3 in a nonconference matchup Tuesday night at Hawkins Field. The Commodores fell behind early but their consistent production on offense–eight different players crossed home plate–proved to be too much for the Bison to handle.

Freshman pitcher Christian Little started on the mound for the Commodores and got into some early trouble after senior infielder Haddon Adams hit a leadoff double for the Bison and later made it to third base after a passed ball at home plate. Little struck out the next two batters he faced, but on the third strike of his second strikeout, the ball got away from sophomore catcher Maxwell Romero Jr. and Adams scored. The next batter Little faced, senior utility player Carter Smith, hit a solo homerun deep to right field, making the score 2-0 in favor of the Bison. Little forced the next batter he faced to ground out which ended the half-inning.

The bottom of the first inning and the top of the second inning were uneventful for both Vanderbilt and Lipscomb. Junior pitcher Dylan Bierman for the Bison added a strikeout to his total, as did Little, and neither pitcher allowed any hits. The Commodores got their first hit of the game in the bottom of the second courtesy of a single from sophomore infielder Parker Noland, but the inning ended shortly after due to a double play.

To start the third, Little gave up a walk and a single to the first two batters he faced. With runners on first and third, Little forced a groundout double play, but the runner on third, senior infielder Brian Moore, ran home to increase the lead to three for the Bison.

The Commodores got things going offensively in the bottom of the third, however. Romero Jr. advanced to first on a fielding error and then junior outfielder Isaiah Thomas singled to left, prompting Lipscomb to make a pitching change and replace Bierman with redshirt junior Noah Thompson. The first batter Thompson faced, senior outfielder Cooper Davis, successfully bunted to load the bases. Freshman outfielder Enrique Bradfield Jr. was then walked to make the score 3-1 and keep the bases loaded.
The Commodores’ first run of the game prompted the Bison to make another pitching change and replace Thompson with sophomore Scott Elgin. Elgin walked the first batter he faced, and Thomas scored for the Commodores, making the score 3-2. Junior infielder Dominic Keegan then reached first on a fielder’s choice, which allowed Davis to score and tie things up. With just one out and runners on first and third, freshman outfielder Jack Bulger singled to left to bring Bradfield Jr. home and give Vanderbilt the lead, 4-3.

In the top of the fourth, Vanderbilt made a pitching change and replaced Little, who finished with three strikeouts and gave up two earned runs (one unearned), with freshman Patrick Reilly. Reilly notched a strikeout, and the Commodores ended the half-inning with relative ease. To start the bottom of the fourth, both Cooper and Bradfield Jr. got on base with infield singles for the Commodores, but sophomore Carter Young popped out to end the inning.

Reilly got another strikeout–his second of the day–and Vanderbilt’s defense shut Lipscomb down in the top of the fifth. Keegan and Bulger started things off for Vanderbilt in the bottom of the inning after they were both walked. To advance the runners to second and third, Noland bunted. Gonzalez –up next– singled up the middle, bringing Keegan and Bulger home and making the score 6-3 in favor of the Commodores. With Gonzalez on first, Thomas hit a booming shot out of the park in left center, putting Vanderbilt in front 8-3.

Vanderbilt kept Lipscomb scoreless in the top of the sixth, as sophomore Sam Hliboki stepped up to the mound, replacing Reilly who finished with three strikeouts.

“Reilly is able to go the distance. He’s got the endurance and tonight he was able to locate his pitches well. He has good off-speed and is comfortable enduring a pitch count up into the 50’s,” Vanderbilt Head Coach Tim Corbin said.

In the bottom of the sixth, Lipscomb replaced Elgin at pitcher with freshman Patrick Williams. The first batter Williams faced, Bradfield Jr., used his speed to make it to third base off a long shot that left Lipscomb’s center fielder scrambling to make a play. Bulger was then walked before Noland hit a three-run homer to left center, putting Vanderbilt up 11-3.

“Noland is a strong kid. He’s always been a consistent producer for us, and tonight he showed that,” Corbin said.

Neither team got much going in the seventh as Lipscomb replaced Williams at pitcher with junior Wyatt Folsom in the bottom of the inning. Folsom kept Vanderbilt off the board after Lipscomb had allowed seven runs the prior two innings.

To start the eighth, senior Hugh Fisher came in for Vanderbilt as pitcher, replacing Hliboki, who finished with one strikeout. Fisher notched two strikeouts and quickly got his team off the field. The Commodores had little offensive spark in the bottom of the inning with a cushioning of eight runs.

In the top of the ninth, Vanderbilt replaced Fisher, who finished with two strikeouts, with sophomore Chris McElvain at pitcher. McElvain finished with three strikeouts and breezed through the top of the ninth inning, ending the game.

The Commodores’ win improves their record to 16-3 on the year. Next up, they’ll travel to Columbia for a three-game series against conference foe the Missouri Tigers starting this Thursday at 6 p.m. CT.