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.

VandyBoys build momentum, take weekend series over No. 4 Arkansas

Vanderbilt baseball stays hot and moves to No. 21 with statement victories on the road over the Razorbacks.
Vanderbilt Athletics
Vanderbilt defeated the No. 4 Arkansas Razorbacks this weekend in Fayetteville, Arkansas (Vanderbilt Athletics).

This past weekend, then-No. 24 Vanderbilt headed down to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to take on the No. 4 Arkansas Razorbacks in a three-game set. Despite not winning a series in Fayetteville since 2011, the Commodores claimed the weekend series, 2-1, in large part due to outstanding performances from Enrique Bradfield Jr. and Carter Holton, and moved up to No. 21.

As the regular season has winded down, the Commodores have built momentum heading into the postseason, picking up their second series victory in a row over a ranked SEC opponent after taking down No. 22 Georgia earlier in May. With Vanderbilt looking to carve a path toward hosting a regional in the NCAA Tournament in June, the series victory could not have come at a better time. 

On Friday night, the Commodores struck first, taking an early 5-0 lead in what turned out to be a back-and-forth contest. Junior Parker Noland’s fifth home run of the season, a two-run blast, gave the Commodores the lead in the second inning. After that, contact baseball for Vanderbilt allowed them to extend their lead to four runs in the second, with a successful safety squeeze from Bradfield and an RBI single from freshman Davis Diaz. A sacrifice fly from Noland in the third inning  added another run to the Commodores’ lead.

In a surprising move from head coach Tim Corbin, freshman southpaw Devin Futrell was on the mound for Vanderbilt to kick off the series. Despite not pitching in a single SEC game so far during the regular season, Futrell was given a vote of confidence from his coaching staff and gave a solid five-inning outing in return. After blanketing the Razorback lineup in the first three innings, Futrell became prone to the long ball in the fourth and fifth frames, surrendering three home runs and cutting the Commodores’ lead to one heading into the sixth.

After the Razorbacks plated a run in the sixth and the teams exchanged runs in the seventh, the score was tied at 6 heading into the eighth inning. Junior reliever Thomas Schultz entered the game for Vanderbilt at this point, and he was nearly perfect on the night. Despite him shutting down the Razorbacks’ offense in the eighth and ninth innings, Vanderbilt’s offense did not gain any traction, leaving the game tied heading into extra innings. With a Javier Vaz walk and a double from Noland to start the 10th inning, Vanderbilt appeared to be in a position to take control of the game.

However, the Commodores’ next two batters went down in order, leaving Bradfield at the plate with the final chance to put Vanderbilt ahead in the inning. After falling behind in the count, Bradfield delivered, sending a 1-2 sinker down the right-field line and out for a three-run homer. The sophomore’s seventh home run of the season gave Vanderbilt a 9-6 lead, one that was protected by another scoreless frame by Schultz in the bottom of the inning, giving Vanderbilt the first game of the series. 

After an electric win for Vanderbilt on Friday, the Razorbacks struck first on Saturday afternoon with a leadoff solo home run in the first inning. The Commodores battled back in the third inning, scoring five runs across a spree of singles and doubles from the latter half of their lineup.

However, junior Chris McElvain began to struggle with his command in the third and fourth frames, surrendering five runs to the Razorbacks. He was removed after the fourth inning, leaving Vanderbilt with a 6-5 deficit. Sophomore reliever Pat Reilly also struggled in his one inning of work on Saturday, allowing two more runs as Arkansas stretched their lead to three. A Tate Kolwyck solo shot in the top of the sixth reduced the lead to 8-6 before play was suspended in the bottom of the sixth due to inclement weather.

With the game picking back up on Sunday morning, the Razorbacks added three more runs in the sixth and seventh innings courtesy of a wild pitch and two-run homer, giving them an 11-6 lead. The Commodores’ offense was tamed over the final three innings, giving the Razorbacks the victory and tying the series at one game apiece. As the completion of the series’ second game was pushed to Sunday morning, the decisive third game of the series that afternoon was played over seven innings due to NCAA rules.

With the pressure on in the deciding game of the series, the Commodores put freshman Carter Holton on the bump. He responded with Vanderbilt’s best pitching performance of the season: Seven shutout innings, surrendering just two hits and striking out five en route to his seventh win of the season. The complete game was Holton’s second of the season and his third straight start in which he has not allowed a single run. 

Along with Holton’s incredible performance, Vanderbilt’s offense also came to play on Sunday afternoon, earning seven hits and five runs in the shortened game. The Commodores got on the board in the third, courtesy of a sacrifice fly from senior Dominic Keegan. The first baseman then extended the Commodores’ lead in the fifth inning with a 2-RBI double before Kolwyck blasted a two-run homer in the sixth to put the finishing touches on a solid 5-0 win for the Commodores. 

With the impressive series victory, Vanderbilt improved to 34-16 on the season, with a 14-13 SEC record. The Commodores will return home to finish out the regular season with a midweek matchup against Middle Tennessee and a final series against LSU. If they keep this play up, the Commodores may once again be able to host a Regional at Hawkins Field.

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About the Contributor
Anish Mago
Anish Mago, Former Deputy Sports Editor
Anish Mago ('24) is from West Windsor, N.J., and is studying economics and political science in the College of Arts and Science. He previously served as a staff writer for the Sports section. When not writing for The Hustler, Anish enjoys playing basketball and rooting for all Philly sports. He can be reached at .
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