Baseball: VU opens vs Tennessee Tech

The Vanderbilt Commodores open their 104th season of collegiate baseball Tuesday, Feb. 12, against in-state foe Tennessee Tech. The season opener represents the first game played in the newly completed $5.8 million Hawkins Field.

The Commodores return 18 lettermen from the 2001 campaign, including four starting position players and seven pitchers. First baseman and reserve catcher Sean Luellwitz returns after leading the Commodores in seven offensive categories a year ago. Karl Nonemaker, a 2000 First Team All-Southeastern Conference selection returns in the outfield for his final campaign. Senior right-handed starters Steven Faulkner, Jeff Little and Chris Maultsby will give head coach Roy Mewbourne veteran experience on the mound.

Tennessee Tech looks to build on last season's appearance in the NCAA Regional. The Golden Eagles, who finished 33-30, 12-9 in the Ohio Valley Conference, caught fire in the OVC Tournament last season in Paducah, Ky., winning four of five games includ-ing the second matchup with Austin Peay, 9-2, in the championship game. After receiving the conference's automatic bid, Tennessee Tech traveled to Knoxville for the NCAA regional. The Golden Eagles defeated Wake Forest 9-7 before dropping consecutive games to Tennessee, 11-0, and the rematch with Wake Forest 18-5.

Bubbie Buzachero returns as Tennessee Tech's primary pitcher. He led the Golden Eagle staff with a 3.30 ERA with a 6-5 mark, 81 strikeouts, 40 walks in 84.2 IP. His .338 average at the plate ranked third-best on the team. He also posted four homers and 35 RBI.

Vanderbilt leads the all-time series with Tennessee Tech 33-19-0. Vanderbilt swept Tennessee Tech during its two meetings in 2001. The Commodores won 10-3 in Nashville (2/28/01) and 9-7 in Cookeville (3/14/01).

Chris Maultsby pitched 3.1 innings in relief, allowing only one hit to record the win in Nashville. Former Commodore Adam Blue went 3-for-4 and sparked a six-run sixth with an RBI single.

Maultsby also picked up the win in relief in Cookeville. Though not as sharp, he allowed only two hits, walked three and struck out two in 2.1 IP. Vanderbilt held off TTU after leading 9-4 through eight innings. Chris Broadus and former Commodores David Wallace and Adam Blue knotched two RBI apiece.

The 2002 season begins with great anticipation as the newly completed Hawkins Field takes centerstage, showcas-ing Vanderbilt's commitment to Commodore baseball.

Still nestled alongside Vanderbilt Stadium and Memorial Gymnasium on the west end of campus, Hawkins Field fea-tures a modern design with a classic baseball park atmosphere, including brick and iron features, more than 1,500 chair-back seats and a 35-foot-tall left field wall.

Vanderbilt's first home since McGugin Field was introduced 76 years ago, Hawkins Field will officially be dedicated April 27, 2002, honoring the Hawkins family. A long-time contributor to the Vanderbilt community, Charles Hawkins III played both football and baseball at Vanderbilt from 1952-54 and became the first Commodore pitcher to earn All-Southeastern Conference honors. He donated more than $2 million toward the construction of the stadium. His father, Charles Hawkins II, lettered in both football and baseball at Vanderbilt in the mid-1920s. Top Stories