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.

No. 7 Vanderbilt battles back against Austin Peay to pick up sixth win of the season, 11-7

An eight-run seventh inning proved to be the difference for the VandyBoys in a tightly contested 11-7 win over Austin Peay on Tuesday.
Vanderbilt Athletics
Matthew Polk hits a home run in Vanderbilt’s victory over Austin Peay on Tuesday, Feb. 28 (Vanderbilt Athletics).

Fresh off of a series win over No. 17 UCLA, the No. 7 VandyBoys hosted the struggling Austin Peay Governors on a beautiful Tuesday afternoon at Hawkins Field. Despite trailing for the majority of the game, the Commodores escaped the game with an 11-7 victory thanks in part to an eight-run seventh inning.

Junior Patrick Reilly got the start for Vanderbilt in search of a rebound after allowing two runs in three innings of work against Central Arkansas last week. The right-hander ran into trouble in the first, surrendering back-to-back singles with one out. Both runners advanced on a double steal before Oklahoma State transfer Lyle Miller-Green drove a sacrifice fly out to center field, giving the Governors an early 1-0 lead. 

The VandyBoys responded with a run of their own in the bottom half of the first. Austin Peay starter Jacob Kush walked Enrique Bradfield Jr. and RJ Austin to begin the inning, putting runners on first and second with nobody out. Bradfield Jr. came around to score when Jonathan Vastine drove a single into right field, leveling the score at 1-1. The scoring ended there, however, as Davis Diaz flew out to left, Vastine got caught stealing second base and Calvin Hewett struck out to end the threat. 

Reilly found himself in a familiar spot in the second when he walked two batters, putting runners on first and second with one out for the second consecutive inning. He looked to be in a good position to work out of it after striking out catcher Trevor Conley, but a walk to third baseman Ambren Voitik saw him pulled from the game after recording just five outs. Austin Peay senior Sam Hliboki came in to relieve him, and, on his second pitch of the game, right fielder Garrett Martin took him deep for a grand slam. Three of those runs were charged to Reilly, whose final line read 4 runs on 2 hits and 3 walks with just 1 strikeout. 

“The first part of the game, we just got ourselves in trouble by giving away too many free bases,” head coach Tim Corbin said after the game. “The location of the pitch is more important than the pitch, and [Sam] didn’t locate it where we wanted it.”

The Commodores continued to put pressure on Kush, threatening in each of their next two at-bats. In the bottom of the second, a walk to Jack Bulger and a bunt single by Bradfield Jr. put two on with two outs, but Austin flew out to right field, failing to bring either across. In the following inning, Diaz ripped a single into left, but Schreck grounded out, and Hewett struck out for the second time to keep the deficit at four. 

Meanwhile, Hliboki’s second inning went much better than his first as he took just three batters to retire the side. After allowing a leadoff single to Miller-Green, the right-hander induced a ground ball double play from shortstop Jon Jon Gazdar and struck out left fielder Harrison Brown. Junior Grayson Moore came on at the top of the fourth and found similar success, retiring the Governors in order on a lineout, a groundout and a flyout. 

“[Moore] settled the game down,” Corbin said. “He got into the middle of the game and settled them down so that we could have a chance to catch up.”

In the bottom of the inning, Austin Peay turned to former Commodore Kyle Magrans, and the VandyBoys wasted little time welcoming him back to Hawkins Field. On just his second batter, Matthew Polk drilled a line drive over the center field fence for his second home run of the year, bringing the score to 5-2.  

Vanderbilt found success against the right-hander again in the fifth, putting two runners on base with one out thanks to a walk by Vastine and a single by Schreck. Unfortunately, they were once again unable to score. Through five innings Vanderbilt had stranded eight runners, a disappointing statistic for a team that was battling to crawl out of a deficit. 

That deficit got larger in the top of the sixth when Miller-Green added to his already impressive day by driving a solo home run to left-center field. The long ball was his fourth of the young season and had the feel of a potential knockout blow for Vanderbilt. 

That being said, the Commodore bats looked to have finally awoken in the bottom half of the inning. Polk led off the inning with an infield single and Bulger followed with a double down the left-field line. Bradfield Jr.’s third walk of the game loaded the bases and marked the end of the day for Magrans, who finished having allowed 4 hits and 3 walks over his two innings of work. Senior right-hander Paul Rector held Vanderbilt to just one run by inducing a fielder’s choice from Austin, a groundout from Vastine and a pop-out from Diaz, but the momentum of the game had begun to shift in the Commodores’ favor.

“The game wasn’t going how we expected it to go from the start but we can’t change anything about the past,” Bradfield Jr. said. “We just keep moving forward and try to stay together.”

In the seventh, one Grayson gave way to another as sophomore Greyson Carter took the mound looking to keep the game within reach. He succeeded in doing so, holding the Governors to one run on two hits and a walk thanks to an excellent defensive play on an attempted safety squeeze. 

Carter’s ability to limit the damage proved vital as in the bottom of the inning, the Commodore offense finally opened the floodgates. A hit by pitch, single and walk loaded the bases for Bulger, who plated Vanderbilt’s fourth run by ripping his second hit of the game to left field. With the bases still loaded, the Governors turned to junior Jackie Robinson (not the one you’re thinking of). The left-hander promptly surrendered an infield single to Bradfield Jr., a fielder’s choice to Austin and another infield single to Vastine which, in tandem with a couple of defensive miscues, gave the Commodores their first lead of the game.

“We were just trying to play aggressive, play as fast as we can,” Bradfield Jr. said. “We got some really fast guys, so we’re going to get moving on the bases.”

That lead grew when Schreck smacked his second hit of the game past the second baseman, and Troy LaNeve, who had pinch-hit for Hewett earlier in the inning, drilled a double down the right-field line. By the time Austin Peay recorded the final out of the inning, Vanderbilt had accumulated eight runs and held a comfortable 11-7 lead.

Corbin turned to left-hander Ryan Ginther for the final six outs who made good on the opportunity. He retired six batters of the seven batters that he faced, striking out two in what was his dominant showing to date. It wasn’t pretty, but the VandyBoys pulled out their sixth victory of the year. 

The Commodores will be back in action at 11 a.m. CST on Friday, March 3 to take on Nebraska in their first game at the Cambria College Classic in Minneapolis.

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About the Contributor
Luke Rollfinke
Luke Rollfinke, Senior Staff Writer
Luke Rollfinke ('25) is a student in the College of Arts and Science planning to major in mathematics with a minor in communications. Luke loves all things sports, so when he's not writing for The Hustler, he's probably either playing for a club or intramural Vanderbilt sports team. You can reach him at [email protected].
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