After losing two of three to Illinois-Chicago last weekend, Vanderbilt had an opportunity to get things back right as they hosted SE Louisiana for a two game series at Hawkins Field.
Game one saw the Commodore bats come alive as they defeated the Lions 9-6. Junior All-American Jeren Kendall was dropped to fifth in the lineup but showed up big in that spot going 3-4 with two home runs and 4 RBI's. Kendall blasted a 3-run shot in the middle of the innings to put the Dores on top and pushed the lead further in his next at-bat with a solo shot over the wall.
Vanderbilt trailed early to the Lions but stayed pace with a battling lineup due to breakout. Kendall was helped at the plate by teammates Will Toffey and J.J. Bleday. Toffey went 1-3 at the plate but produced two RBI's while playing stellar defense at 3rd base. Bleday has been a big surprise so far this year and continued his great hitting on Tuesday night going 2-4 with one run scored.
The Lions would eventually tie the game at 6-6 but a two run home run from freshman Harrison Ray put the Commodore on top for good. It was a blast that went over the left field wall and it came from someone not expected. Ray's continued development, especially at the plate could allow me more playing time as the season goes on.
Maddux Conger struggled in his second start of the season pitching 4 innings giving up 7 hits and 5 earned runs. He also walked two hitters and just didn't seem to have the command like he did in his first 2017 start.
The Vanderbilt bullpen relieved Congar and did an admirable job maintaining the Lions hitters and eventually shutting the game down. Collin Snider pitched a little more than 3 innings to pick up the win, while Reed Hayes closed things out to add his second save of the year.
Game two was a bit different compared to Game one. Both teams needed their pitching staffs to get the job done and Vanderbilt proved to have the stronger group of arms.
The Commodores beat SE Louisiana 4-2 to win the two game series and push their record to 6-3 overall. It was a slow, methodical game that saw the bats remain quiet while the pitchers took center stage.
Vanderbilt went with Chandler Day to start Game two and his struggles this year continued. The Lions got on him early hitting two solo home runs to give SE Louisiana an early 2-0 lead. The bullpen would come in and lock things down as the Lions early 2-0 lead would be the only runs scored on the day.
Solid performances from Paxton Stover, Matt McGarry and Hayes allowed the Commodores to get their bats going while shutting down the Lions batting order. A combined six innings of work, the trio of guys from the bullpen, did an excellent job of getting the Lions hitters to ground into multiple double plays while not giving up too many free passes. Hayes came into the 9th inning in relief of McGarry to pick up his team leading 3rd save of the season.
Vanderbilt's offense was jump started by a solo home run from Julian Infante in the bottom of the 2nd. The Dores followed in the 3rd inning with another run to tie things up at 2-2. Toffey legged out a fielders choice to score senior catcher Jason Delay and it was a new ball game from there.
Bleday put the Commodores ahead in the 4th with his first career home run as he blasted the solo shot into the right field bleachers. Ro Coleman who went 2-4 on the day, scored on a wild pitch in the 4th to give the Dores to lead and the lead for good.
Head coach Tim Corbin and his baseball team needed these two wins over the Lions to gain confidence after surprising giving away a home series to the Flames last weekend. The Vanderbilt pitching staff, especially the bullpen had good performances this mid-week that should go forward into the Dores three game home set against Cal-St Northridge.
Friday's game starts at 4 pm Central. Saturday's 1st pitch is set for 4 pm Central as well while Sunday's finale will begin at 1 pm Central.