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.

Baseball: Vanderbilt defeats Louisville 4 – 2, wins annual Battle of the Barrel contest for the second year in a row

After a disappointing weekend in Athens, Ga., Vanderbilt defeated Louisville on Tuesday evening in its final midweek matchup of the season.
Vanderbilt Athletics
Vanderbilt players tap helmets after Jonathan Vastine crosses home plate following his leadoff homerun. As photographed May 7, 2024. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

Vanderbilt (33-16, 11-13 SEC) took on Louisville (29-19, 13-11 ACC) on May 7 for the final midweek game of the season at Hawkins Field for the annual Battle of the Barrel game. The VandyBoys walked away victorious with a 4-2 win over the Cardinals. 

“It started Sunday night when we got back,” Corbin said in an interview with ESPN during the game. “We needed a reset [and we] will bounce back and get to a point where we are proud of what we are doing.”

Junior left-hander Devin Futrell got the start on the mound for the Commodores. Although Futrell would typically be a weekend starter, he is still rehabbing a shoulder injury that had sidelined him for multiple weeks of play. Futrell ended his day with arguably his best outing since his injury, going five innings, allowing three hits while walking one and striking out six batters on 81 pitches delivered. 

Vanderbilt allowed Louisville to strike first on offense when the Cardinal’s leadoff batter, JT Benson, was walked and later scored after a double by Zion Rose. 

After an inability to generate offense in its previous two SEC series, Vanderbilt started the game with hot bats. Vanderbilt’s leadoff hitter, Jonathan Vastine, hit a home run to right-center field at the bottom of the first to even score at one apiece. Quickly after the Vastine homer, Vanderbilt loaded the bases with no outs when RJ Austin walked, Davis Diaz singled and Alan Espinal walked. Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell then visited the mound, where he retired starting pitcher Justin West for the night and replaced him with right-hander Carson Liggett. A sac-fly to left field by Camden Kozeal brought in Austin, but Diaz was called out on the same play, attempting to take home. All the Commodores would get in the first inning was two runs.

Neither team would score again until the fifth inning. Vanderbilt’s Matthew Polk, who had reached base thanks to a catcher’s interference, broke the scoring drought when he scored on a throwing error by Louisville catcher Luke Napleton. Vastine was the next Commodore to cross the plate in the fifth, driven in by a sacrifice ground ball hit by Austin. After Diaz singled to third base, the Cardinals made another pitching change, sending in Kayden Campbell coming for Parker Detmers. Espinal struck out looking to end the inning, but not before the Commodores extended their lead to three runs heading into the sixth inning. 

Right-handed pitcher David Horn Jr. entered the game for the Commodores in the sixth inning, looking to hold the Vanderbilt lead. In the top of the sixth, Vanderbilt flashed some leather on defense in three consecutive plays, during which Vastine and Diaz showed off their impressive fielding range. 

The game once again entered a short-term scoring hiatus. In the sixth inning, Jack Bulger singled to right field, and Jacob Humphrey replaced him as a pinch-runner. However, the Commodores were unable to capitalize on the base-runners when Humphrey was picked off while attempting to steal second base. Following the out, Kozeal flew out and Colin Barczi struck out.  

Freshman left-hander Luke Guth entered the game in the seventh inning to replace Horn on the mound. The Vanderbilt defense quickly found itself in a sticky situation when Louisville’s Gavin Kilen doubled down the left field line and then advanced to third on a wild pitch. As was the case for much of the night, solid defense by the Commodores allowed them to get out of the inning and hold onto their three-run lead. 

Louisville made yet another change on the mound in the bottom of the seventh, with Jared Lessman replacing Campbell. After Lessman walked Hewett, hit Vastine and walked Austin, another Louisville pitcher entered the game: Tucker Biven. Biven looked to escape a situation with Vastine on second and Austin on third with Diaz at the plate, and was able to do so as Diaz struck out swinging to end the inning. 

Brennan Seiber took the mound for the Commodores in the eighth inning with a three-run lead. Seiber shut down the Louisville offense, forcing the side to ground into outs. The bottom of the eighth inning brought two more pitching changes by Louisville when Josh Klug faced just two batters before he was replaced by Riley Phillips. Vanderbilt was able to move Espinal into scoring position with two outs, but a diving catch by Louisville’s third baseman, Dylan Hoy, ended the inning. 

Seiber returned to the mound in the ninth inning, looking to secure his third save of the season. After getting his first out when Rose flew out to right field, Seiber gave up a home run to Louisville’s Humphrey and hit a batter on the next at-bat to bring the tying run to the plate. Corbin then visited the mound and pulled Seiber, replacing him with junior left-hander Ryan Ginther. Ginther started strong, striking out Louisville’s Kilen on three straight fastballs. Ginther then allowed a blooper hit to left field, which put runners on first and third base with two outs. The go-ahead run Ryan McCoy came to the plate, and he reached after Ginther hit him with a pitch on a full count. With bases loaded and two outs, Corbin made another pitching change, bringing in freshman Miller Green to try to close out the game. Miller worked a 2-2 count but a slider caught the final batter swinging to close out the game. 

Vanderbilt will return home for its second-to-last SEC series against Tennessee, which begins on May 10. The first pitch is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. CDT.

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About the Contributor
Grace Hall
Grace Hall, Deputy Sports Editor
Grace Hall (‘26) is from Belfast, Maine, and is majoring in public policy studies in the College of Arts and Science. Grace is also the vice-president of the Vanderbilt Club Field Hockey Team. When not writing for The Hustler you can find her watching the Boston Red Sox or Celtics, reading or at a concert. You can reach her at [email protected].
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