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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.

Comeback Commodores fall just short against Oregon State, eliminated from NCAA Tournament

Despite a valiant effort from Vanderbilt, Oregon State ended the Commodores season on Monday afternoon.
Vanderbilt Athletics
Spencer Jones caught fire in the Corvallis regional this past weekend (Vanderbilt Athletics).

After finding themselves in an early 0-1 hole in the Corvallis regional, Vanderbilt clawed their way back to face Oregon State in the winner-take-all game seven of the bracket, but fell just short, losing 7-6. The Beavers will advance to the Super Regionals, where they will face the Auburn Tigers in Auburn, Alabama.

The regional tournament started off on a sour note as the Commodores dropped a 3-2 contest to San Diego in the first game of the weekend. Despite late solo home runs from both senior Dominic Keegan and sophomore Calvin Hewett, Vanderbilt struggled to muster enough offense behind freshman starter Carter Holton. The five-hit effort sent the VandyBoys to the losers bracket, at which point the uphill climb began. 

But with their backs against the wall at what seemed like their lowest point of the season, Vanderbilt responded. The Commodores unloaded on the New Mexico State Aggies to the tune of a 21-1 victory and an 18-hit bonanza in their first elimination game. Junior Spencer Jones posted four hits in the contest, along with a career-high 7 RBIs. 

Consider the flood gates open. Saturday’s outburst was a catalyst for offensive momentum throughout the rest of the regional for the Commodores, who followed up their 21-run explosion with a 14-run performance in Sunday’s rematch against San Diego. Vanderbilt nearly matched their hit total from the day before in the 14-4 win over the Toreros, tallying 17 hits. All nine Commodore starters collected a hit, and Keegan led the way with four. 

Perhaps most impressive of the string of victories was the one that followed just hours after Vanderbilt’s win over San Diego. In the nightcap against the No. 3 overall-seeded Oregon State Beavers, the Commodores offense continued to buoy a Vanderbilt squad on the brink of elimination. The VandyBoys jumped out to another big lead, notching eight runs before the Beavers could cross home plate, which they did just once over nine innings. Freshman left-hander Devin Futrell stepped up under pressure as well, throwing six scoreless innings to keep the Beavers at bay. 

That win pushed the regional to a game seven on Monday afternoon. Oregon State jumped on top in the rematch with a leadoff home run against starter Christian Little to take a 1-0 lead. As was the theme for much of the weekend, the Commodores bounced back on yet another home run from Jones, this one a two-run bomb that brought Javier Vaz home. 

The two opponents traded blows back-and-forth over the middle innings. The Beavers ambushed Little again in the bottom half of the fourth to tie the contest at four apiece. Enrique Bradfield Jr. whizzed around the bases, stealing second and third, to put the VandyBoys back up in the fifth, 3-2. The Beavers responded right back with a two-run homer off the bat of Pac-12 Player of the Year Jacob Melton to go up 4-3. They tacked on two more runs in the inning to take a 6-3 lead. Vanderbilt, again, chipped away at the 3-run deficit, scoring twice on an infield error by the Beavers that extended the top of the sixth inning, pushing the score to 6-5. The Commodores added another in the top half of the seventh to pull the contest back even at 6-6. 

Oregon State pushed right back ahead in the bottom half of the inning, propelled by a solo shot off the bat of Matthew Gretler. The longball booted reliever Grayson Moore from the game and brought in Donye Evans, but faced just a handful of batters, letting the Beavers load the bases. Freshman Ryan Ginther got the Commodores out of the jam, striking out the next batter, Melton, on four pitches. 

Oregon State countered with Cooper Hjerpe—who threw 100 pitches on Friday against New Mexico State—and he sent Vanderbilt down 1-2-3 in the top half of the eighth. Ginther followed suit, leading the Commodores out of trouble in the bottom half of the inning to keep the deficit at one for the VandyBoys. 

Vaz walked to open the ninth and was moved over to second on an infield dribbler from Jones. Keegan struck out looking and Tim Corbin sent out pinch hitter Matthew Polk with two outs, who struck out swinging as the Commodores fell short, 7-6.

Vanderbilt finished the season with a record of 39-22 and will look forward to next season as they welcome the No. 2 recruiting class in the country to campus. 

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About the Contributor
Bryce Smith
Bryce Smith, Former Sports Editor
Bryce Smith ('23) is majoring in human and organizational development in Peabody College with a minor in business. Bryce previously wrote for SBNation before joining The Hustler. Hailing from Chicago, Bryce is a die-hard Bears and Cubs fan who is also hoping that the Bulls and Blackhawks may one day rekindle their dominance. He can be reached at [email protected].    
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