Commodores complete sweep with 14-4 rout of Florida

Saturday marks the first time the Commodores have scored at least ten against the University of Florida in back-to-back games since 2006-2007.

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Commodores complete sweep with 14-4 rout of Florida

Simon Gibbs, Senior Writer

The Vanderbilt Commodores faced off against the 14th ranked Florida Gators on Saturday afternoon, hoping to complete a three game sweep in just their second conference series.

The high-stakes game brought 3,626 fans to the stands, enough to completely sell out Hawkins Field–for the second time this weekend. The large crowd, led by the famous Vandy Whistler, loudly voiced their support for the Commodores all afternoon.

In the end, the VandyBoys did not disappoint. After dropping their first series to the Texas A&M Aggies, they bounced back in spectacular fashion by winning the final game 14-4 and completing the sweep of a talented Florida Gators team.

“We performed well at certain times,” said Coach Corbin, as he reflected on the weekend. “But any time you do it in a consistent manner against a good team, it’s saying something. It gives you an indication of what some kids are capable of doing.”

Corbin gave Kumar Rocker the nod on Saturday despite the freshman’s inconsistent play of late. Rocker had not registered a win since their 6-2 defeat of Pepperdine in late February, and his success varied by day.

Today, with the help of a stellar offensive effort, Rocker showed his true colors. His dominance began as early as the first inning, as he wasted no time in striking out three consecutive batters to start the game.

In the bottom of the third inning, Rocker faced the only jam of his outing. While Vanderbilt’s offense had yet to log their first hit, Florida started off the inning with a solo home run. This brought up their lead-off hitter, Jacob Young, who hit the first of two straight singles.

The rally continued, and Rocker took a minute to get his grip.

The two baserunners advanced on a sacrifice, leading to Rocker’s wild pitch. After seeing the pitch get away from catcher Philip Clarke, Florida tallied their second run of the inning.

Rocker was given the opportunity to prove himself. As a freshman, his performance is often evaluated not by how dominant he is at his best, but rather, how he deals with a jam at his worst.

Rocker welcomed the opportunity with open arms, working his way out of the third without another scrape.

“I was certainly happy with the pitching this weekend,” Corbin noted. “I think it’s important to see how [Kumar] was going to rebound. After the third with the solo and the ball getting back to the backstop, there was a little bit of frustration. Really what you wanted to see is if a young kid could rebound, and he did. He got himself back on the mound and pitched, he’s impressive that way.”

In the fourth, the Commodore bats finally got something going. Leadoff hitter Cooper Davis was set to kick-off the inning, and his single sparked a short-lived rally. The second hitter, Austin Martin, followed-up with a single of his own, while the three hitter, JJ Bleday, walked his way to loading the bases.

The rally was short-lived for all the best reasons. Just as they drew it up, clean-up hitter Stephen Scott stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded. Scott wasted no time, absolutely launching a grand slam over the right field fence. He has been devastating to the Gators this weekend, ending the series with six hits and five RBI’s.

“Kumar had been doing a great job in that game and we were really trying to give him some run support,” said Scott. “Just playing Florida and knowing the history between our two teams puts a lot of emotion in the game. That makes it a lot of fun for us.”

This gave the Commodores a 4-2 lead–their first of the night–and from thereon out, it was smooth sailing for Corbin’s squad.

Kumar Rocker did not allow another run en-route to a six inning outing, during which Coach Corbin allowed his freshman to reach a pitch count of 105.

Rocker was pulled after six frames, but in the bottom of the sixth, Clarke gave the freshman pitcher some insurance. He joined in on the home run parade, driving in three and extending the Commodore lead to 7-2. The rally didn’t end there; Harrison Ray followed-up with a single of his own, and Julian Infante’s sacrifice fly drove him in for the eighth run of the game.

The icing on the cake, however, came in the bottom of the seventh. Ray came up to the plate once more, with two runners on, and drove them both home with a double to right-center field. The Commodores had then amassed a lead of 10-2.

This marks the first time they’ve scored at least 10 against the University of Florida since 2006-2007, when they did it four games in a row.

In the bottom of the 8th, the game started getting out of hand. Austin Martin notched a double down the line, his third hit of the night, scoring two more. The very next batter, JJ Bleday, had not recorded a hit on the day–until he drove Austin Martin home with a deep two-run homerun to center field.

Eventually, the Commodores slowed down, and this exciting game came to its conclusion.

Tyler Brown closed the game in the 9th, but faced some trouble. After the Gators scored two more in the 9th, the Commodores won 14-4.

Unbeknownst to him, the game also marked Tim Corbin’s 700th win as the head coach of the Commodores. When asked about the accomplishment after the game, he gave a typical Coach Corbin answer:

“It’s a win. That’s all that matters.”

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