Commodores upset at home by Austin Peay 7-6

The Vandy Boys beat Southeast Missouri State 11-3 on Tuesday, February, 26, 2019. (Photo by Emily Gonçalves)

The Vandy Boys beat Southeast Missouri State 11-3 on Tuesday, February, 26, 2019. (Photo by Emily Gonçalves)

Simon Gibbs, Senior Writer

The Vanderbilt Commodores played their last game of February on Wednesday, as they hosted the Austin Peay State Governors at Hawkins Field. Unlike the weather, which reached 70 degrees at the the time of first pitch, the Commodores did not look like they were in mid-spring form.

Chance Huff’s early dominance was certainly reassuring, and it continued for the majority of his four inning start. His efforts on the mound, coupled with an inconsistent Commodore offense, could not get past Austin Peay.

Vanderbilt’s offense certainly took some time to find its stroke, but early on, pitching was about as consistent as Coach Tim Corbin would expect. Chance Huff, a freshman from Niceville, Florida, had struggled in his first two outings. Prior to Wednesday, he had thrown a total of five innings, letting up five earned runs in the process. Today, however, Huff rebounded.

He started off by retiring all three Governors in the first frame, and not much changed thereafter. Again, Huff retired all three batters he faced in both the second and third innings. It wasn’t until the fourth inning that Huff had his first hiccup–nothing more than a hit-by-pitch and a walk–before getting through another hitless inning.

The Governors couldn’t quite figure out Huff, and the no. 2 Commodores weren’t too different. Even Vanderbilt took a couple frames to figure out their competition. After barely squeezing in one run in the first, the Commodore offense was rather stagnant.

In true Commodore-fashion, however, this stagnation lasted just two innings. In the third, a Phillip Clarke RBI single and a three-run, line drive bomb over the right field fence by Stephen Scott was good for a 5-0 Vanderbilt lead.

Austin Peay finally got on the board in the the fifth inning, after a double and a series of walks helped them force in a run with the bases loaded. Hugh Fisher took over for after Huff’s earned run, but the ensuing batter hit a high bouncing grounder into shallow left. The double helped drive home two more, but Vanderbilt stopped the bleeding after three runs.

Again, the Commodores hit a short offensive funk. In the fifth and sixth innings, they left runners stranded and could not tack on insurance runs in response to Austin Peay’s three. It became a two inning routine for Vanderbilt to load the bases, only to ground into a double play and end the inning.

After a combined eight runs through four and a half innings, the offense slowed down–on both sides.

In the eighth inning, the Commodores found themselves in yet another position to add to their tally. This time, rather than loading the bases with two outs, Stephen Scott came to the plate with runners on second and third. The result was no different.

Scott struck out swinging, and the tally of stranded baserunners–particularly, runners in scoring position–continued to grow far past Coach Corbin’s liking.

Austin Peay made one more run at Vanderbilt’s lead in the ninth inning, as they managed to load the bases. The Commodores were extremely lucky to let just two runners score; Austin Peay tied the game, but if Vanderbilt ever find itself against an SEC opponent who loads the bases in the ninth, they will need more than just a two run lead to hold onto the game.

In the bottom of the ninth, the Commodores had one more chance to prevent extra innings, but came up short. Their inability to convert gave the fans another inning–one that nobody expected, and one that was worrisome.

Two walks and one hit by pitch later, Austin Peay had the bases loaded with just one out. A.J. Franklin had to bail himself out of a jam, and after striking out one batter, he couldn’t convert again.

Austin Peay’s Parker Phillips drilled a one-hopper to Ethan Paul at short, who couldn’t move it to second in time to get the runner. After the Governors had taken a 6-5 lead, they quickly tacked on another after Franklin walked in another run.

In the bottom of the tenth, Austin Martin’s triple gave the Commodores one run, but they couldn’t quite tie the game. The Vanderbilt Commodores, ranked second in the nation, stranded 13 men on base on the offensive end, while walking 12 on the mound en route to a 7-6 loss to Austin Peay.

The Commodores now sit at 6-2 and will host Dayton on Friday afternoon.