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 look to bounce back against Florida at home

After a tough series against Texas A&M on the road, the VandyBoys are set on redemption as they prepare to face an unranked Florida.
Josh Rehders
Davis Diaz and Tim Corbin watch on during Vanderbilt’s game against Missouri, as photographed on March 30, 2024. (Hustler Multimedia/Josh Rehders)

Vanderbilt will return home on Thursday after getting swept by a sizzling Texas A&M team this past weekend. Vanderbilt fell to 8-6 in conference play, and this upcoming series against Florida could be critical in getting the Commodores back in form. 

The Florida Gators, Vanderbilt’s upcoming opponent, were the runner-ups in last year’s national championship, but have struggled to live up to their pre-season hype. After recently falling out of the D1 Baseball rankings, Florida will look to capitalize on this series against the No. 13 ranked Commodores. The Gators have earned series wins over ranked powerhouses like Texas A&M, LSU and Mississippi State. However, they’ve also lost six of their last eight games, losing a series against both Missouri and South Carolina. The Gators have given up 59 runs in the last six games, potentially leaving the door open for the Commodore offense. Understandably, with this pitching they rank last in the SEC in earned run average (ERA), recording a 6.45. 

Vanderbilt has gained some footing since being swept, grabbing a 15-4 midweek victory over nearby Lipscomb University on Tuesday. A few big contributors will need to step up in order to overcome Florida, including RJ Austin who has gone 1-of-14 in the last four. Jayden Davis – has been hitting well recently, going 3-5 in Tuesday’s game against Lipscomb. Vanderbilt needs a few hitters, including Austin and Davis, to have a hot bat, and will need to continue their offensive attack in the series against Florida. 

As for pitching, Vanderbilt has its work cut out against an unpredictable Florida offense. Florida has an impressive 78 home runs on the season, ranking forth in the nation. According to head coach Tim Corbin, left handed pitcher Devin Futrell may finally see some innings this week, which would help with left-handed matchups. For starting pitchers, Vanderbilt’s (likely) usual rotation of Greysen Carter, Carter Holton and Bryce Cunningham will look to keep Florida at bay, giving the Commodores’ offense the opportunity to take the lead early.

Florida’s two-way star Jac Caglianone will present a challenge for the Commodores. Caglianone is a threat on the mound, throwing 101 pitches (61.3% of those being strikes) and recording the win in Florida’s 11-9 victory over South Carolina on Sunday. At the plate, Caglianone is a dangerous batter in all regards, posting a staggering .400 batting average and 21 HRs. Considering he’s currently on a seven-game home run streak, Vanderbilt should aim to limit baserunners when he steps up to the plate.

If the Commodores want to win this series, they’re going to need to get both their offense and defense together, as they were outscored 6-36 in the series against Texas A&M. Primarily, they need to take advantage of Florida’s pitching in the first two games, as Caglianone, who posts Florida’s best ERA (3.89), is likely to pitch on Saturday. Because Vanderbilt was shutout twice in a three-game sweep, it is difficult to pinpoint individual players who need to improve their offensive efficiency. Ultimately, the whole team will need to hit as they did in their series against LSU

Texas A&M is the highest-ranked team in the nation right now, and it’s hard to think the Commodores will suffer the same fate when they play the Gators. Vanderbilt has explosive offensive potential, and they should look to take control of the game early and limit defensive errors. 

Vanderbilt will start its series against Florida on Thursday, April 18th at 6:00 p.m. CDT at Hawkins Field. 

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About the Contributors
Tyler Chueh
Tyler Chueh, Staff Writer
Tyler Chueh (‘26) is from Cambridge, Mass., and is a student in the College of Arts and Science studying sociology and political science. In addition to writing, Tyler enjoys playing tennis, basketball and poker. As a Boston local, his favorite sports teams include the Red Sox and Celtics. He can be reached at [email protected].
Josh Rehders
Josh Rehders, Former Photography Director
Josh Rehders ('24) is from Houston and is studying computer science in the School of Engineering. When he is not shooting for The Hustler, Vanderbilt Athletics or freelancing, he enjoys finding new music and good food. He can be reached at [email protected].
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