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.

Vanderbilt claims series with 7-4 win over Mississippi State

Vanderbilt claimed a three-game series over its SEC foes on Sunday, powered by Carter Young and some impressive relief pitching.
Vanderbilt+baseball+caps+off+a+three-game+series+against+Miss.+St.+with+a+7-4.+%28Twitter%2F%40VandyBoys%29
Vanderbilt baseball caps off a three-game series against Miss. St. with a 7-4. (Twitter/@VandyBoys)

The Commodores on Sunday hosted the fourth-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs in perhaps their most important game of the season. A win would give Vanderbilt a series win over its conference foes; a loss, on the other hand, would send the visitors home with a renewed sense of confidence.

But the VandyBoys saw only one option. They won 7-4, improved to 31-7 on the season and claimed the rivalry once again.

Hawkins Field was as lively as it’s been all season. After Vanderbilt increased capacity to 40 percent—and invited the football team to cheer from above the Commodore dugout—the athletic department was able to foster a lively in-person atmosphere for the season’s biggest game to-date.

“It was great,” Corbin said of the in-game atmosphere. “For a 40 percent situation, I thought it was outstanding. Those football players—we’re very appreciative of what they did. Those guys hung out [at the stadium] all weekend, and they didn’t have to do that. We owe them. We owe them big time.”

The Commodores, however, were unable to match that energy in the early frames.

Freshman Patrick Reilly got the start for the VandyBoys but couldn’t replicate his outing last week, which enabled Vanderbilt to seal a series win over Tennessee. In fact, he was shelled early, and he never made it out of the first inning.

Mississippi State center fielder Rowdey Jordan drew a game-opening walk, then an errant pickoff attempt by Reilly allowed Jordan to advance to third. Though Reilly was able to strikeout the next batter, he followed it up with a walk, a double and another walk. Mississippi State, leading 1-0, had a bases-loaded, one-out opportunity to break the game open.

Vanderbilt pitching coach Scott Brown took a mound visit, hoping that Reilly would settle in. But he instead allowed a 2-RBI walk to Scotty Dubrule, giving the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead. One walk later, his day was over.

“If that’s the worst thing that’s ever going to happen to Patrick Reilly, then he’s going to be a very fortunate guy,” Corbin said. “In order to grow in this league, you do need to tumble a little bit.”

Reilly allowed two hits, three earned runs, struck out one and walked four through 0.1 innings pitched. He was relieved by Chris McElvain, who was able to emerge from a 30-minute-long half-inning without allowing another run.

The bottom of the first was still all Bulldogs. Starter Jackson Fristoe retired the first three VandyBoys in order, and Missisippi State only extended its lead in the top of the second—Tanner Allen launched a 400-plus-foot home run off the batter’s eye in center field, making it 4-0 Mississippi State.

The Commodores in the bottom of the third got their first baserunner of the game, as Parker Noland drew a walk, but Fristoe still emerged from the inning with ease. Fristoe posted another one, two, three frame in the third, bringing his hitless start to the fourth. The no-hit bid ended—and the game’s momentum began to shift—in the bottom of the fourth.

“We’ve been in this [situation] before,” Corbin said after the game. “It’s not like three innings define the game. We just have to continue moving through.”

The second time around Vanderbilt’s batting order proved a much more difficult task for Fristoe. Carter Young led things off with a well-hit ball to deep center field; the ball was poorly played by Mississippi State, and he was able to leg out a triple. Dominic Keegan drove Young in with an RBI-groundout, and Vanderbilt’s rally continued when the next batter, Jack Bulger, hit a routine ground ball that Mississippi State’s third baseman threw into the stands. Bulger advanced to second on the play, after which CJ Rodriguez drove him in with a bloop single. 

While the VandyBoys hadn’t quite equalized the game, they entered the fifth inning down just 4-2—and for the first time all day, had a little bit of confidence.

“Once we got on the scoreboard, then you felt like, ‘OK, the game is in play again,'” Corbin said.

That confidence extended well into the fifth. McElvain had no trouble getting out of the top of the frame. Then, Jayson Gonzalez lined a single to right and Enrique Bradfield Jr. drew a walk. With the blink of an eye, Young, the potential leading run, stepped up to bat.

He sure delivered.

Young’s three-run blast to right field gave Vanderbilt its first lead of the day, a narrow 5-4 margin, and ended Fristoe’s day. He went 4.1 innings, ultimately allowing five runs—four of them earned—and was relieved by Houston Harding. 

“[Young] had a tough night last night. He left the ballpark a very dissappointed young man,” Corbin said. “He came in here like you would want a kid to do, and respond in that way. Not just in big hits, but you also have to be in the right mindset in order to get those big hits.”

Shortly thereafter, Vanderbilt made a pitching change of its own. The Commodores pulled McElvain, who delivered a clutch 5.1 innings and allowed just one earned run, after he allowed a two-out double in the sixth. The baserunner didn’t amount to much, as Nick Maldonaldo retired the next batter and Vanderbilt’s 5-4 lead remained in-tact.

The Commodores were able to tack on a couple insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. A clutch, two-out single to right field by Bradfield Jr. extended the lead to 7-4, where it would eventually stick. Maldonaldo stayed in for 3.1 frames, working all the way to the game’s final out and delivering a critical performance in relief.

“We’ve got a lot of maturing to do,” Corbin said of his Vanderbilt Commodores, who finish the series atop the SEC East. “We’re not close to who I think—who we think—we can be. I know that.”

The Commodores have a few days off before returning to action on April 30. They’ll travel to Gainesville, Florida to take on the Gators in a three-game series.

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About the Contributor
Simon Gibbs, Former Sports Editor
Simon Gibbs (‘21) is the former Sports Editor for The Vanderbilt Hustler. He has been on staff since the first semester of his freshman year, previously serving as a Staff Writer, Senior Writer and Deputy Sports Editor. Simon is also the host of VU Sports Wired on Vanderbilt Video Productions and The Hustler Sports 30 on VandyRadio. Simon has attended several events as credentialed media, including the 2019 NFL Draft, 2019 College Baseball World Series and the 2019 SEC Tournament. Outside of his Commodore coverage, Simon has had bylines published on NHL.com and NashvillePredators.com. When he's not writing, you can find Simon watching his hometown New York Mets, waiting for that next ring. For tips, comments or concerns, please reach out to: [email protected]    
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