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.

Vanderbilt closes opening series with a dominant win against FAU

The Commodores cruised to a 11-1 victory to cap off their first series of the season.
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Lana English
The VandyBoys celebrate a run in their victory over Florida Atlantic. (Hustler Multimedia/Lana English)

After splitting the first two games of its opening weekend series against Florida Atlantic University, Vanderbilt triumphed in game three, winning 11-1. Fantastic pitching and batting .313 as a team helped drive the Commodores to their second win of the season.

“The time of possession the first two days were not in our favor. When the defense is out on the field for a long time, the underscore of that is it pushes the legs and pushes the body,” head coach Tim Corbin said. “When you get your defense in the dugout quick it gives them more time to think about offense. We did that today from start to finish.”

Devin Futrell was elected to start on the mound for the Commodores, a left-handed pitcher who went 8-3 in 15 starts last season. The lineup for the team remained the same for the most part, although Calvin Hewett was placed in centerfield and RJ Austin was moved to third base in place of Davis Diaz. 

On the first at-bat of the contest, FAU’s Spencer Rich was able to pop up and drop a single into the outfield behind second base that three Commodores weren’t able to track. After the next batter flew out to right, Mike La Rocca was able to drive the ball past Austin’s glove for a single. Brando Leroux was then able to also send another ball deep, flying out to left to advance both of the Owls’ runners. However, another flyout, this time to center, stranded both runners to close out the top of the first. With Tyler Murphy on the mound for FAU, the Commodores looked to strike early. Yet, Vanderbilt went hitless, with Camden Kozeal being struck out looking to finish the inning.

In the second, Futrell settled in, striking out the first two batters he faced before making Emilio Gonzalez flyout to center. But, the Vanderbilt bats were not connecting, remaining hitless as Alan Espinall and Troy Laneve were struck out while Jayden Davis grounded out to third. 

Finding his rhythm, Futrell continued his stellar outing, striking out two more batters in a three up, three down inning. Back on defense, FAU would undergo a pitching change, with RHP Brandon Smith taking over for Murphy. Vanderbilt would get its first runner on base as Hewett would be grazed by a pitch, as he then proceeded to steal second on Smith’s following pitch. The Commodores earned their first run of the game through a Johnathan Vastine double to right center that drove in Hewett. Austin then singled to the pitcher, whose throw came off the first baseman’s glove, rendering Austin safe while bringing in Vastine. The Commodores would finish the first three innings up 2-0.

Following two hitless innings, Leroux was able to shoot a double down the line over Austin’s head for the Owls. FAU would finally get on the board through another double down the left foul line, this time by John Schroeder on a full count. Regardless, after a groundout to Futrell, Vanderbilt was able to escape the inning while only giving up a lone run. In the bottom of the fourth, Smith would struggle with his control, walking Davis and then walking Maldonaldo by hitting him with a pitch. After throwing two more balls and a short mound visit, Smith would escape the inning by striking out Hewett. 

Maintaining a one run lead, Futrell would put the pressure back on players in the batting box, forcing another 1-2-3 inning while also logging his fifth strikeout of the day. With FAU deciding to keep Smith on the mound, the mounting issues would continue, as Vastine fired a ball off the center field wall for a triple before Bulger and Austin both walked. With the bases loaded and zero outs, Kozeal drove in a run by grounding out to first, a play that could have brought in even more runners if it wasn’t for a diving grab by FAU’s first baseman. As a result, Smith was pulled from the mound with Dawson Ball replacing him. Ball would give up a deep right field sacrifice fly to Espinal, bringing in Bulger. Immediately after, Davis shot a single through the middle to center, allowing Austin to run home and push the Commodores’ lead to 5-1. 

Ball’s day would then be rendered over after a single from Hewett, with FAU’s third pitcher of the match being LHP Zach Abbey. On the ensuing two at-bats, FAU’s catcher Andrew McKenna dropped a pitch and then let another one fly by him, letting Hewett advance to second then third with relative ease. Bulger joined Hewett on the bases by being hit by a pitch for the second time. Deciding to take advantage of Abbey and McKenna’s struggles, Hewett and Bulger raced out together, stealing home and second respectively. After another walk and a wild pitch, Kozeal popped to third to end the inning.

After six fantastic innings that consisted of giving up only three hits and one earned run, Futrell was relieved by RHP Brennan Seiber. Abbey also got pulled, FAU calling on RHP Steven Andrews. 

“Devin’s awesome. A weekend ago on Sunday, he struck out eight of our guys,” Hewett said. “So, to be able to watch that and defend behind him is really cool. With Devin, you know what you’re going to get, he gets up there and throws strikes.”

Andrews would give up three hits in the seventh, two doubles from Espinall and Davis then a single from Jacob Humphrey, driving in two runs and leading to Andrews being immediately taken out for RHP Kyle Beaty. Beaty then gave up three more runs as Hewitt shot a double to left field, Vastine hit a sacrifice fly to right field and Bulger singled, driving in Humphrey, Maldonaldo and Hewett. 

Seiber on the other hand would pitch the final three innings, striking out three and allowing zero hits to solidify the victory for the VandyBoys. 

“The pace never waned. That’s what we’re looking for: pace and strikes. That’s what we got out of Devin and certainly out of the freshman, Seiber,” Corbin said.

Up next, Vanderbilt will take on Dayton, Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 4:30 p.m. CST.

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About the Contributors
David Hernandez, Lead Sports Analyst
David Hernandez (‘26) is a student in the College of Arts and Sciences double majoring in political science and law, history and society with a minor in communication studies. Outside of writing for The Hustler, you can find him playing basketball, catching up on his favorite shows and mourning the tragedy that is New York sports. He can be reached at [email protected].
Lana English, Staff Photographer
Lana English (‘27) is from St. Louis and is majoring in neuroscience in the College of Arts and Science. Outside of The Hustler, you can find her drinking coffee, doing New York Times word games or getting nostalgic looking at old pictures. You can reach her at [email protected].
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