After an electric series win against in-state rival Tennessee, the second-ranked VandyBoys returned to Hawkins Field on Tuesday and took care of the Austin Peay Governors 7-0. The Commodores donned their grey and gold uniforms for the second time this spring and used a solid outing from Thomas Schultz to take the game on a beautiful evening in Nashville.
“I think [the pace] gets Schultz into a rhythm,” head coach Tim Corbin said after the game. “Not thinking too much about the pitch he is going to throw has kept him simple.”
Schultz took the mound for his second straight mid-week start and pitched a clean six innings while allowing just two hits and three walks. He did not face more than four batters in a single inning and despite a leadoff single from the Governors’ Gino Avros, exited the first unscathed before picking up some early run support.
Carter Young continued his tear with a deep double off the right field wall to get the bottom half of the first inning started. And after Dominic Keegan and Jack Bulger both reached to load the bases, Parker Noland ripped a two-RBI double off the green monster in left field, adding to his total of opposite field hits.
B1: After Bulger drew a walk to load the bases, Parker Noland did what he does. An opposite field shot off the green monster in left scores two for the #VandyBoys.
IT then grounds out to score Bulger. 2 outs with one on third for Romero Jr.
AP: 0 pic.twitter.com/ElMqvarhU0
— Vandy Hustler Sports (@vuhustlersports) April 20, 2021
Isaiah Thomas capped the inning with an RBI groundout that scored Bulger to extend the Commodore lead to three.
Schultz continued to settle into a grove in the second and third, downing the Governors by pounding the outside corner of the strike zone with fastballs. Weak contact and a number of swing-and-misses enabled him to quickly work through both innings before the Commodore offense continued to pour it on.
After he ripped a double off the right field wall, the reigning Southeastern Conference (SEC) Freshman of the Week, Bulger, stole third base. That allowed Noland—the next batter—to tally his third RBI of the evening with a groundout.
Schultz then returned to the hill and continued forcing weak contact in the fourth and fifth. He generated four groundouts in the two frames—one of which turned into a 5-4-3 double play.
His day ended after an easy sixth inning. He notched 86 pitches and surrendered no more than one walk or one hit in any of his six innings; Schultz also did not allow a Governor to reach third base all night long. He closed his day with a strikeout on a nasty curveball that stranded one Governor at first base.
M6: Schultz returns for what might be his final inning of the evening and downs the Governors nearly in order.
86 pitches in 6.0 IP with 2 H, 3 BB and 4 Ks including this one to close the inning.
AP: 0 pic.twitter.com/VZreztRiSF
— Vandy Hustler Sports (@vuhustlersports) April 21, 2021
The Commodores then broke their short three-inning scoring drought with three runs in the bottom of the sixth. A Jayson Gonzalez double sandwiched by a pair of walks from Spencer Jones and Enrique Bradfield Jr. left the bases loaded for Young. The Governors then brought in lefty Greg Norman to face Young, and his first pitch was thrown behind the Commodore shortstop, allowing Jones to score from third.
After Young struck out swinging, Keegan stepped to the plate and delivered the Commodores third RBI groundout of the night to put Vanderbilt up 6-0. A wild pitch followed by an error from the Governors’ third baseman Avros allowed Bradfield Jr. to score off a hard hit ball from Bulger.
The Commodores used small ball and solid base-running all night long to hurt the Governors. Corbin’s team scored on an error, three groundouts and a wild pitch throughout the evening.
Freshman Donye Evans stepped to the mound to relieve Schultz and despite a leadoff single in the top of the seventh inning, he used an impressive fastball to strikeout two Governors in his one inning of work.
He was relieved by lefty Nelson Berkwich in the eighth who, in his third appearance of the season, threw just eight pitches in the eighth to down the Governors in order.
Hunter Owen took over for Berkwich in the top of the ninth inning and secured the win for Vanderbilt. Tate Kolwyck also returned to the field in the top of the ninth, relieving Noland at second base for the first time since he went down with a hand injury on Mar. 23. Corbin noted after the game that Kolwyck felt good enough to take the field today.
“Today was a step in the right direction [for Kolwyck],” Corbin said. “He took batting practice [today]. He’s just kind of a day-by-day decision.”
Vanderbilt will be back in action at Hawkins Field this Friday for a significant three-game set with fourth-ranked Mississippi State.