VandyBoys complete sweep against Army, win 6-0

The No. 5 Vanderbilt Commodores notched their first series sweep of the season by beating the Army Black Knights 6-0.


Josh Rehders

Davis Diaz avoids a wild pitch against Army West Point on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Josh Rehders)

Frankie Sheehy, Staff Writer

The No. 5 Vanderbilt Commodores completed a series sweep on Sunday against the Army Black Knights, as junior starter Nick Maldonado, sophomore Hunter Owen and junior Thomas Schultz combined for a shutout. It’s the VandyBoys’ fourth straight victory and their second shutout of the season. Junior Spencer Jones drove in three of the Commodores’ six runs to lead the way.

Maldonado started with a solid first inning, helped by a nice sliding play from senior second baseman Tate Kolwyck. Bradfield opened the bottom of the first with a six-pitch walk, but the Commodores couldn’t bring him home after sophomore Jack Bulger hit into a fielder’s choice and was then picked off at first.

Army threatened in the top of the second after an Andre Walden single and an error by junior Carter Young put two men on. Maldonado walked the next batter to load the bases. But Maldonado pitched out of the jam, striking out the next two Black Knight hitters and then getting a weak groundout to end the inning. 

“Obviously the second inning was a big inning, just negating that situation which could’ve been a tough one,” head coach Tim Corbin told The Hustler after the game.

The Commodores responded by loading the bases themselves. Junior Parker Noland cashed in with a base hit up the middle to score two. Freshman Davis Diaz hit a sacrifice fly to left field to put the Commodores up 3-0 through the first two frames.

In the top of the third, Army had a runner on second who tried to come home on a single to left field, but senior Javier Vaz’s throw gunned him down on one hop to keep Army off the board. The VandyBoys loaded the bases again in the bottom of the inning with a Bulger single and two walks, but Kolwyck struck out to strand the three runners.

After Maldonado hit the leadoff man in the top of the fourth, a diving grab by Diaz got the first out. Senior catcher Dominic Keegan then threw out the Army runner stealing, and the Commodores got out of the fourth inning clean. After a couple sloppy plays on defense by the Black Knights, Jones was able to capitalize after a long at-bat and put the VandyBoys up 5-0 with a double to right. 

Owen came out of the bullpen to bring Maldonado’s start to a close. Maldonado threw four shutout innings, allowed four hits and one walk, struck out three and recorded his first career win as a starter. 

“I couldn’t have done it without my defense. I was able to show a decent amount of strikes and attack the zone as much as I could, and left it up to the guys behind me to make the plays,” Maldonado said after the game.

Owen pitched a 1-2-3 inning to start his second outing. Owen hit a batter in his second inning, but Kolwyck turned a nice double play to get out of the sixth. The Commodore offense slowed down a bit, not scoring in the fifth or sixth innings with just a walk by Noland.

Owen continued his good outing by striking out three in the top of the seventh. One got on first from a dropped third strike, but Young made a sliding play at shortstop to preserve the five-run lead. Keegan got his second hit of the day to lead off the seventh, and Young took a walk to knock Army’s Sean Dennehy out of the game. Kolwyck grounded into a fielder’s choice, and Noland struck out to end the threat. Keegan was 3-for-4 at the plate with a walk.

“He’s got a quiet toughness about him, and he’s a presence,” Corbin said of Keegan. “You can feel him everywhere, and he’s attached to everyone. You can see he roots for everyone inside the dugout, he’s pulling hard for everyone inside the dugout. He doesn’t say much, but when he does say something there’s some strength to it.”

The first two Black Knights reached base in the top of the eighth on Young’s second error and a walk. Owen was yet again able to keep Army off the scoreboard, retiring the next three hitters in order. Sophomore Enrique Bradfield Jr. doubled in the bottom of the eighth, and Jones picked up his third RBI with a single up the middle. 

“Spencer always gives you a good at-bat because he checks off on pitches, he does a good job managing the zone—I just like the way he plays,” Corbin said.

Owen finished his day after four innings, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out six. Schultz came in to close the game in the top of the ninth, sending the Black Knights down in order to secure the shutout. The Commodores improve to 5-2 after getting their first sweep.

“Good weekend from an outcome standpoint. We’ve got a long way to go, we know that. We did enough today to keep them off the scoreboard,” Corbin said.

The VandyBoys return to action on Tuesday, Mar. 1, against Central Arkansas at 4:30 p.m. CST.