No. 9 Vanderbilt drops second straight to No. 1 Tennessee, 5-2, losing its second series in a row

After Friday’s loss due to a disastrous inning, the VandyBoys responded with another loss in large part thanks to another disastrous inning.

Outfielder+Javi+Vaz+stands+on+first+base+during+Vanderbilts+loss+to+Tennessee+on+April+2%2C+2022.

Miguel Beristain

Outfielder Javi Vaz stands on first base during Vanderbilt’s loss to Tennessee on April 2, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Miguel Beristain)

Connor Campbell, Staff Writer

The top of the first inning was nothing short of catastrophic for the No. 9 Vanderbilt Commodores (20-6, 4-4) in Game 2 against the No. 1 Tennessee Volunteers (26-1, 8-0). This slow start led to a 5-2 VandyBoys loss—their second in two days. 

Tennessee maintained its momentum after yesterday’s win and played aggressive from the jump. Volunteer leadoff hitter Christian Moore had no intention of working a count to start the game, swinging at the first pitch which resulted in a lineout to center. Then, after 2-hitter Jorel Ortega walked in six pitches, he ran first to home on a Jordan Beck double, mounting the first run of the game. 

The bleeding didn’t end there. The next batter, center fielder Drew Gilbert, reached base on catcher interference. The better next to him, third baseman Trey Lipscomb, got jammed, hitting a weak pop-up down the right field line that fell in between right field and first base, taking a stray bounce to the right, over the fence and into the Volunteer bullpen. Though initially ruled a foul ball, the call was overturned to a ground rule double. Another run for Tennessee.

Then, Vanderbilt took one more punch to the gut. With two outs, freshman Carter Holton got a strikeout on a breaking ball. Jack Bulger blocked the ball but lost it next to his foot. Holton picked up the ball, ate the throw to first but threw to second to back-pick the runner, causing Gilbert on third to take off for the plate. Carter Young failed to tag the runner at second for the out, instead throwing home as Gilbert slid in safely. 3-0 Vols. Holton finished the inning with a strikeout, but the damage had already been done. 

“Some tough, tough breaks,” head coach Tim Corbin said about the inning. “I mean, outside of [Jordan] Beck’s ball, we kinda hurt ourselves in that inning. We just couldn’t catch a ball, couldn’t keep it in front of us and couldn’t find it. Catcher’s interference. Just kind of bottled up and it ended up being a big inning.”

Tennessee did everything they could to protect its lead. Sophomore transfer Chase Dollander continued his dominance, including a no-hitter through 4 innings. He finished the day with eight innings pitched, three hits, six strikeouts, two earned runs and only one walk.

You just got to give it to [Dollander’s] fastball,” Corbin said. “His fastball’s tough. And he’s a high-end executer with it. He’s a high-end executer with all of his pitches. I mean, he just suffocates the strike zone and he suffocates the strike zone with good, good stuff. The kid’s a good pitcher.”

His field had his back, too. Javier Vaz almost broke the no-hitter in the third with a grounder up the middle until Tennessee shortstop Cortland Lawson showed off his range, fielding the ball and gunning Vaz out in a bang-bang play. Even when Vanderbilt got a hit on the board, a leadoff single up the middle by Dominic Keegan in the fifth, the runner didn’t last long. Keegan was caught stealing on a passed ball, and the inning ended two batters later. 

The Volunteers continued to add some insurance. Lipscomb laced a ball over the left-center wall with one man on in the fifth, adding two more scores and extending the Tennessee lead to 5-0. 

Holton’s day ended an inning later. He tossed 5 2/3 innings with five hits, nine strikeouts and only two earned runs of the five scored while he was on the bump. 

It took until the seventh for Vanderbilt to gain any life. Enrique Bradfield Jr. led off the inning with a home run to right field, his fourth long ball of the year. Two batters later, Spencer Jones matched his teammate with a solo shot of his own. 

After two innings of scoreless baseball, sixth-year senior Redmond Walsh entered to close the game for the Volunteers, looking for his fourth save of the year. After recording a Bradfield Jr. double play and a Davis Diaz groundout to short, he ended Vanderbilt’s night. Tennessee won the game and the series. 

With the two losses behind him, Corbin set his sights on stealing a win in tomorrow’s final matchup.

“It’s not over,” Corbin said. “It’s just not over. You got another game tomorrow so we’ve gotta get into the ballpark and play well.”

Vanderbilt and Tennessee face off once more tomorrow at 1 p.m. CDT.