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 stay hot in sweep of Georgia

The Vanderbilt offense continued its hot streak as the Commodores won their eleventh straight game in a sweep of Georgia.
Chris+Maldonado+standing+on+second+base+on+April+2%2C+2023+%28Hustler+Multimedia%2FBarrie+Barto%29.
Barrie Barto
Chris Maldonado standing on second base on April 2, 2023 (Hustler Multimedia/Barrie Barto).

The No. 4 Vanderbilt Commodores improved to 23-5 and 9-0 in the SEC as they extended their winning streak to 11 in a sweep of the Georgia Bulldogs. With the sweep, Vanderbilt broke the record for their longest ever undefeated stretch to start an SEC season and is now the only team left in the SEC without a conference loss so far. In addition, two Commodores earned weekly SEC honors for their performances. With the calendar now having flipped into the third month of the season, everything seems to be looking up for Tim Corbin’s VandyBoys.

Everyone chips in for 29 more

The red-hot Commodore offense plated 29 against Georgia, including 16 in Saturday’s win. While their streak of seven-run games ended at ten with Sunday’s 4-0 win, Vanderbilt is still clearly one of the top hitting teams in the country. As it frequently has during the run, Vanderbilt’s offense has come from all throughout the order. All nine of the regular starters had at least three hits, a run scored and a run batted in (RBI). All series, the Commodores reached base with remarkable frequency. They recorded 40 hits with at least ten in each game, 16 walks and were hit by the pitch six times, totaling a staggering .585 on-base percentage. The offense even came as Vanderbilt left 28 runners on base, averaging more than one stranded runner per inning. This all-around team offense has been a key part of the Commodores’ recent success since the start of SEC play.

Futrell’s vintage start

On the one day when the Vanderbilt offense was held to just four, starting pitcher Devin Futrell took on the extra weight to blank the Bulldog hitters. Throwing 111 pitches, the southpaw pitched eight shutout innings, allowing just three hits and no walks. This stellar performance led Futrell to be named the SEC Pitcher of the Week on Monday. Futrell was not immediately anointed into a weekend starting spot this season, and has sometimes been held to shorter “five-and-fly” outings. However, we know that Futrell is capable of these kinds of performances. 

Devin Futrell against Georgia on Sunday April 2, 2023 (Hustler Multimedia/Barrie Barto).
Devin Futrell against Georgia on Sunday April 2, 2023 (Hustler Multimedia/Barrie Barto). (Barrie Barto)

He won five straight starts last season in the midweek role and even threw a complete game against Lipscomb on March 29, 2022. Now with just a 2.70 earned-run average (ERA) and a miniature walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) of just 0.870, Futrell’s vintage lefty pitch-to-contact approach is proving beneficial, even on relative off days for the offense.

Leading freshmen

While Vanderbilt’s offense came from all throughout the lineup, the two freshmen were particularly important. For his part, RJ Austin recorded three hits with five runs scored, 5 RBIs and a homer along with two walks. Both his runs and RBI totals for the series led the team, as Austin is one of the three Commodores who reached the 20-RBI mark this weekend.

Meanwhile, designated hitter Chris Maldonado recorded a 6-for-11 series with two walks despite posting an 0-for-4 Friday. In his outbursts Saturday and Sunday, the junior Maldonado brother hit two doubles and a homer, driving in four runs while scoring four of his own. While he does not currently qualify for any of the rate stats, Maldonado leads the starting lineup with an incredible .721 slugging percentage and a .382 batting average. Maldonado picked up a SEC Co-Freshman of the Week award for his effort.

Schreck goes off…again

Never one to be outdone, three-hole hitter RJ Schreck nearly matched Maldonado’s slash line, going 6-for-13 with four runs, four RBIs, and even four doubles. Schreck leads the team in hits, homers and RBIs. The glove is there too, as Schreck made several nice plays in right field, while nearly pulling back Connor Tate’s grand slam on Saturday.

A tougher stretch ahead?

All is rosy for Vanderbilt baseball at the moment. They have an eleven-game winning streak, a lead in the division, a No. 4 ranking nationally and an excellent resume to potentially host a Regional. However, the schedule may be starting to get a bit more difficult. The opening three opponents of Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Georgia are arguably the three weakest teams in the SEC. 

The Commodores’ next four weekend series are against SEC East rivals Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky. Missouri is the weakest of those four, but a sweep on the road is not something that just happens. No. 11 Tennessee is only 4-5 to start their SEC schedule, the VandyBoys should not expect a particularly welcoming greeting from Tony Vitello and the Volunteers or from the Knoxville crowd. Meanwhile, Kentucky and South Carolina are both 8-1 in conference games and are both in the D1 Baseball top ten.

However, we’ve seen already that Tim Corbin leans into difficult games, and the Commodores’ current stretch is by no means just a factor of a weaker schedule. The month of April will be a test of just how strong this team is, and a sign of what they’re capable of in the later stretches of the season.

But before all that, the VandyBoys will have their next midweek game on Tuesday, April 4 at Hawkins Field at 6 p.m. CDT against Western Kentucky.

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About the Contributors
Frankie Sheehy
Frankie Sheehy, Former Deputy Sports Editor
Frankie Sheehy ('24) wrote for The Hustler Sports section and graduated from the College of Arts and Science with majors in economics and law, history and society. He was also the president of the Vanderbilt Chess Club and a superfan of the Chicago White Sox. You can reach him at [email protected].
Barrie Barto
Barrie Barto, Editor-in-Chief
Barrie Barto ('25) is majoring in medicine, health & society with neuroscience and communication of science & technology minors in the College of Arts and Science. She previously served as Photography Director. When she's not strolling around campus with her camera, you can find Barrie cheering on the St. Louis Blues or tracking down the best gluten-free food in Nashville. She can be reached at [email protected].
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