VandyBoys outlast Evansville in chaotic 17-inning marathon win, 2-1

The VandyBoys walked off Evansville 2-1 in a 17-inning game.

Patrick+Reilly+pitching+for+Vanderbilt+against+Evansville+as+photographed+on+March+8%2C+2023+%28Hustler+Multimedia%2FLindsey+Jorda%29.

Lindsey Jorda

Patrick Reilly pitching for Vanderbilt against Evansville as photographed on March 8, 2023 (Hustler Multimedia/Lindsey Jorda).

Frankie Sheehy, Deputy Sports Editor

In a 17-inning marathon, the No. 7 Vanderbilt Commodores (10-4) beat the Evansville Purple Aces (7-6) 2-1 Wednesday night on a walk-off single by Parker Noland. The Vanderbilt pitching staff was incredible all night to overcome the lackluster offense, but the top performance undoubtedly came from Ryan Ginther. Ginther, who was not expected to pitch, entered in the 11th inning and recorded four scoreless frames with 77 pitches. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt stranded a potential winning run on third base an astounding five straight times.

“That was an expensive win because you’ve taken a lot of guys away from the weekend,” head coach Tim Corbin said after the game. “We shot of bullets to win one game. We won the battle, now we’ve got a war in front of us. So we’ll see what happens.”

Highly touted freshman right-hander Andrew Dutkanych IV made his first start for the Commodores in his fourth appearance. After just two batters, one out and a walk, Dutkanych grimaced off the mound. After a visit from the training staff and an attempted warm-up pitch hit just 67 miles per hour, Dutkanych was taken out of the game, and Patrick Reilly came in much earlier than expected. Dutkanych’s injury is a serious blow for a pitching staff already struggling for depth out of the weekend.

“I don’t even know what happened to him,” head coach Tim Corbin said of Dutkanych. “I don’t know if it’s a cramp, I don’t know if it’s a hamstring, I have no idea.”

The Purple Aces struck first in the top of the second inning off of Reilly. After a bunt single and a walk, Brent Widder drove a liner into the outfield to bring home a run and give Evansville a 1-0 lead. Reilly struck out the next two hitters and got a groundout to end the inning and prevent further damage.

Both teams’ bats fell asleep for the next few innings. The Commodores recorded just one hit through the fourth against Shane Harris, and Evansville had just two more baserunners on a walk and a hit-by-pitch through the fifth inning against Reilly.

Vanderbilt finally came alive in the bottom of the fifth. After Jack Bulger was hit by a pitch, Matthew Polk doubled off the left-field wall and Enrique Bradfield Jr. hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 1-1. This was enough to end Harris’ start for Evansville at the end of the fifth inning.

Reilly’s outing ended after the fifth. After rushing to warm up, Reilly put together a very solid outing with 4.2 innings pitched, seven strikeouts,¬† and only two hits and one earned run allowed.

Davis Diaz reached base in the sixth and was bunted over to second by Jonathan Vastine, but was stranded on second. Evansville responded with a leadoff single against Thomas Schultz and a similar small-ball strategy but left their runner aboard as well.

Evansville left-hander Michael Parks kept the Commodores off the board in 2.2 innings, allowing just two singles.

In a tie game heading into the ninth inning, Eric Roberts led off the top of the frame with a double for the Purple Aces. After he reached third on a sacrifice bunt, Corbin went to the bullpen to replace Schultz with Nick Maldonado. Maldonado recorded the next two outs to escape the jam.

Jack Bulger reached base with two outs in the ninth and was replaced by pinch runner JD Rogers. However, Polk struck out to send the game into extra innings.

RJ Schreck recorded a ground-rule double with two outs in the bottom of the tenth, but Diaz was unable to find a walk-off RBI. Thus, the Commodores’ pitching staff that was already stretched by a bullpen game Sunday, a game on Tuesday and Dutkanych’s injury had to cover an 11th inning.

Vastine led off the bottom of the 11th with a walk and was pushed to third on two groundouts. Alan Espinal subsequently grounded out for Vanderbilt’s third runner stranded on third base of the game.

While Ginther cruised through the top of the 11th, he walked the leadoff hitter in the 12th and allowed him to reach second base with no outs on a wild pitch. Evansville was so intent on pushing the runner home that the next hitter attempted a sacrifice bunt with two strikes, fouling it off for the first out. Ginther struck out both of the next two hitters, bringing his total to four.

With one out in the bottom of the 12th, Bradfield Jr. reached first on an infield hit caused by a defensive miscue, with Evansville’s Jakob Meyer failing to cover first base on a ground ball to the right side. After stealing second and reaching third on a groundout, the Purple Aces intentionally walked Schreck to face Diaz. Diaz grounded out to the pitcher to again leave the winning run aboard.

Ginther allowed the first two runners of the 13th inning to reach base. After two flyouts, an infield single loaded the bases. With a full count, Widder flew out to center field to end the threat.

Chris Maldonado hit a one-out double in the bottom of the 13th and reached third base before being replaced by pinch runner TJ McKenzie. On the Commodores’ third chance with a runner on third in extra innings, they again failed to score as McKenzie was picked off by the catcher.

Calvin Hewett singled to lead off the bottom of the 14th and reached second on a Bradfield Jr. groundout. Hewett then advanced to third on a deep flyout by RJ Austin. Schreck was intentionally walked yet again, but Diaz popped out to strand him.

Ginther was replaced in the top of the 15th by freshman debutant JD Thompson. Thompson struck out three in his first college appearance.

McKenzie walked and reached third on a stolen base and a groundout, but Vanderbilt astonishingly failed to score again.

The game reached a 17th inning to tie the record for the longest game in Vanderbilt history with a May 11, 2010 win over Louisville.

Schreck led off the bottom of the 17th with a fly ball that nearly went out, but hit near the top of the wall in left field to keep him to a double. Schreck reached third on a bunt single by Diaz, and scored on a walk-off single by Noland with two outs. It was Noland’s first hit of the game in his seventh at-bat.

“I was just trying to put a ball in play,” Noland said of the walk-off. “I was happy to get it done for the guys.”

The Commodores will be back in action for the first of a three-game set against Loyola Marymount on Friday, March 10, at 4:30 p.m. CST.