Most ballplayers go through their entire careers without experiencing a moment as thrilling, significant and satisfying as Scott's clutch homer that beat Tennessee in the 2003 season finale. With one memorable swing, the Hendersonville High School alumnus lifted Vandy to a win over the Vols, a series sweep, and a berth in the SEC Tournament.
For sheer drama, nothing may ever top that one. But his game-saving, highlight-reel catch in right field Sunday vs. Alabama in Tuscaloosa came pretty doggone close-- and for pure spectacle, there's not even a comparison.
Despite the fact the Vanderbilt baseball program has progressed light years in two short seasons under head coach Tim Corbin, one hurdle was lingering ominously in the air Sunday-- the Commodores had been unable to win an SEC road series under Corbin. Vandy and Alabama had split the first two games of the series, and when the Commodores took a 3-0 lead into the ninth inning of Sunday's game, they appeared ready to finally cross the figurative Rubicon.
Vandy's hard-throwing closer Ryan Rote was on the mound to steer the ship into port for the final inning. Corbin had also had the prescience to insert Worth Scott into right field for defensive purposes.
But suddenly, the game took a nasty turn. Matt Grooms doubled off Rote, and after Rote struck another batter with a pitch, Allen Rice scored Grooms with a single. The Crimson Tide loaded up the bases and scored another run on a fielder's choice. With two outs, Corbin called for an intentional walk of Gabe Scott.
That brought pinch hitter Matt Downs to the plate with the bases loaded. The tying run was just 90 feet from home, and the winning run was dancing on second base in the person of Evan Bush. The 4,191 Tide patrons, trying to rattle Rote, were standing and roaring with every pitch.
Downs worked the count to 2-2 before launching a Rote fastball deep to right-center field, and the crowd let out a lusty cheer. Even if the ball didn't go out, which it looked as though it had a decent chance of doing, it was placed well enough to easily bring in the two winning runs.
Freeze that ball in the air for just a second. Suddenly, Downs was poised to do to Vanderbilt what Scott had done to Tennessee the year before. For one split second, the Commodores' whole season was hanging in the air-- they were about to fall to 5-7 in the SEC-- and should they lose a road series in this heartbreaking fashion, who knew when they might ever win another?
But hold everything. Here came Worth Scott on his horse.
"Off the bat I thought I had it, and I didn't think it was going to be as deep as it was," Scott said. "But the guy hit it well, and it had a lot of backspin on it. It took off and kind of hung up there.
"I turned to go, and I peeked up once, just at the point where I thought I might be able to run underneath it, and I saw it was still going."
Now the ball was looking as though it would stay inside Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The crowd sucked in its breath, as did a nervous Vanderbilt dugout.
"I had to keep going full speed. By the time I peeked up at the last second, I was under it and grabbed it, and smack, hit the wall."
Fully extended, Scott gloved the ball over his shoulder a split-second before smashing into the wall and tumbling backward. He had made the catch-- but would he be able hang onto it?
"It hurt a little bit, but the wall was padded, so I was fortunate that it wasn't steel or something. It didn't hurt as bad as it would have if I had hit the wall [at Charles Hawkins Field]. I hit it going pretty good."
Scott raised the ball over his head, and it took the stunned crowd a moment to realize what had happened. The Vanderbilt bench erupted and raced in jubilation out to mob Scott. Hanks had been robbed, and the Crimson Tide was left stunned and short. Vandy had emerged with a 3-2 win, and a 2-1 road SEC series win.
"You couldn't ask for a better hit ball," said Bama's Bush, who was stranded helplessly on second. "That's two games this weekend, just a tough break... a heartbreak."
"It was a hard-fought game," Alabama coach Jim Wells said, sounding a bit like one of the villains in a Scooby-Doo episode. "That kid [Scott] just made a great play in right field."
It was a catch that, had these been the major leagues, would surely have made ESPN's Plays of the Week. It was the kind of play-- and game-- that can turn around a whole season.
"It was kind of a relief that the game was over," Scott said. "That game was tight, similar to Friday's when they came back at us. I was just glad the game was over, because games like that can be mentally exhausting. I was fired up, but at the same time, I was really glad the game was over."
Who ever said baseball is a boring game? Both of Vandy's wins over the Tide were one-run nailbiters. Lucky? Maybe, but Vandy will take them and run.
"It was just huge for us to get the road series win, and if I can make a catch like that and help the team, it's definitely good for us."
Did the emotion of "The Catch" eclipse last year's "Shot Heard Round the SEC?" Scott said he and the team have been so focused on this season that last season seems like a distant memory at this point.
"Honestly, I feel like our team this year has moved forward so much," Scott said. "We have the same mentality, and we took a huge step last year, but this year I feel like we're taking even another step forward, and we're making even more progress as a team."
Phil Mickelson wasn't the only one to get a breakthrough win on Sunday. Suddenly, thanks to Worth Scott's game-saver, an SEC campaign that could have tailed off in the wrong direction looks rosy again. Vanderbilt's SEC record is even at 6-6, and the Commodores finally have the confidence that comes with winning a road series.
"It's a huge step," Scott said. "It's another part of our team progressing from last year to this year. Doing that on the road in the SEC is huge, doesn't matter who you're playing."
Note: Vanderbilt (24-8) faces Evansville Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Charles Hawkins Field. The game was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but was postponed due to inclement weather.