Fall Ball: New and familiar names star in VandyBoys’ fall scrimmage against Samford

The Vanderbilt Commodores opened their fall series with a mixed performance against the Samford Bulldogs.

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Vanderbilt Athletics

Vanderbilt matched up with Samford for their first fall exhibition of 2022 (Vanderbilt Athletics).

Frankie Sheehy, Senior Staff Writer

The Vanderbilt Commodores played the first of their three-game exhibition series on Sunday at Hawkins Field against the Samford Bulldogs. The scrimmage was played as a set of three short games totaling 10 innings.

The Commodore lineup featured a mix of returning faces, including Jack Bulger, Davis Diaz and newcomers, such as Duke transfer RJ Schreck.

The Commodores walked five times in the first two innings but couldn’t bring a run home against the first two Bulldog pitchers. Meanwhile, Samford scraped one across in the first on a passed ball and added two more in the third. The visitors nearly took a 6-0 lead, but All-American center fielder Enrique Bradfield Jr. made a jumping catch at the wall to rob a potential three-run homer. The Bradfield Jr. catch seemed to spark the VandyBoys, as a Matthew Polk double led off a two-run bottom of the third to make the score 3-2.

Sophomore righty Greysen Carter got the start on the mound, relying exclusively on a fastball above 97 miles per hour in the first inning but mixing in more breaking balls as the game went on. Carter drew weak contact, but the command issues he had last spring were a problem again. Carter walked two batters, hit one with his curveball and committed two throwing errors on pickoff attempts in his three innings. 

The VandyBoys tied it up in the bottom of the fourth after newcomer RJ Austin drove a double to left, Bradfield Jr. bunted for a hit and Austin scored on a throwing error. Schreck hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Bradfield Jr. and walk off the first game for Vanderbilt, 4-3.

Sophomore lefty Ryan Ginther was the standout on the mound, throwing two scoreless innings with six strikeouts, no hits and just one walk. Ginther spent the summer with the Newport Gulls of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, where he threw 18.1 innings with a 3.93 earned-run average (ERA) and 28 strikeouts.

Ginther’s outing was followed by the college debut of Andrew Dutkanych, a freshman righty who withdrew from the MLB Draft to attend Vanderbilt despite being forecast as a potential MLB first-round choice. Dutkanych threw two solid scoreless innings, allowing just one double and striking out three as the second mini-game ended in a scoreless tie.

The visitors started game three by plating four runs against Colton Regen off three hits, two walks and a wild pitch. The VandyBoys responded in the bottom of the inning via two doubles from TJ McKenzie and Calvin Hewett. Hewett scored on a Schrek base hit, and Bulger’s two-run single tied the final game at 4-4. McKenzie doubled again in the next inning to drive in Diaz for what would be the winning run. JD Thompson sealed a 6-4 win to end the day.

In total, Vanderbilt won two of three games and tied the third. The Commodores outscored Samford 10-7 over 10 innings but committed 4 errors.

The VandyBoys will continue their fall slate in Las Vegas, Nevada, with a matchup against Arizona State on Oct. 30, followed by the intrasquad David Williams Fall Classic on Nov. 13.