Hit brigade, stellar pitching at Hoover last night, State tonight, MLB guys

JJ Bleday was 5 for 5 with an RBI, the great Stephen Scott, Player of the week in the SEC last week, was 3 for 5 with a homer and 5 Ribeyes, Pat DeMarco was 3 for 5 with a ribbie and Philip Clarke was 2 for 5 with an RBI as the No.2 Commodores pounded out 16 hits and Mason Hickman was spectacular on the mound in our 11-1 victory over Auburn last night at the Hoover Met.

JJ raised his average to .361 and now has 25 homers and 65 RBIs. Stephen, who’s been on fire in the past week, is now hitting .343 with 11 homers and 50 Ribeyes. Philip is now hitting .318 with 6 homers and 60 RBIs, and Pat is at .297 with 4 homers and 35 RBIs. Austin Martin was 1 for 5 with 2 runs scored and his 14th stolen base of the season in 19 attempts. Austin is now hitting .427. Harrison Ray stole his 16th base in 19 attempts and made a phenomenal leaping catch on a sinking line drive headed for right central field. Ty Duvall was 1 for 4 with 3 Ribbies. We are now hitting .320 as a team. We ,moved to 46-10 with the victory and play No.3 (rank nationally) Mississippi State tonight in the nightcap at 8 on the SEC Network. State defeated us in a heckuva Super Regional series last season, so we need to return the favor tonight.

Our defense was superb. We are now fielding at a .983 clip, best in the SEC and 8th best in the country. Mason was awesome, going 6 innings, giving up just 2 hits, 1 earned, with 3 walks and 9 K’s. Mason moved to 7-0 with a 2.20 ERA. Mason has walked only 18 and struck out 98, a better than 5:1 strikeout to walk ratio, which is spectacular. Jake Eder pitched pretty well in the last 2 innings allowing no hits, 0 runs with 2 walks and a K. We’ll need Jake some more, so I’m glad he looks like he’s getting his early season form back. Just needs to be accurate and then he’s a very effective pitcher with his 95-96 MPH fastball.

State defeated LSU, 6-5 in 17 innings last night. It ended very late. I was not awake for that. But I saw their great center fielder Jake Mangum hit. He was 2 for 5 and is now hitting .373. He has set the all time national record for hits. He’s a phenomenal player. They hit .319 as a team, their team ERA is 3.48 and they have a .973 fielding % team. So, we hit it a little better and field better, but they’ve got a little better team ERA than we have, so Drake Fellows and the bullpen will have to step up tonight. Our team ERA is 3.84. Drake is 10-0 but has a higher ERA at 4.34. We’ll need a stellar effort from him and the pen tonight, we’ll have to be sharp in the field and we need to hit the ball with runners in scoring position. State is No.3 in the country for a reason, so we have our hands full with a terrific team, but so are we, so we’ve got a good shot. State is 46-11. No.5 Arkansas (41-15) plays No.7 Georgia (43-14) in the other winner’s bracket game. First pitch for that game is at 4:30 PM CT. A&M is playing Ole Miss right now. It’s 0-0 in the top of the 4th. Auburn plays LSU at 1 PM CT today.

MLB guys

Dansby Swanson

2 for 5 last night with his 8th homer, a 3 run shot in the 2nd, and his 31,32nd and 33rd RBIs. Braves defeated the Giants 9-2 to move to 27-23 and 1 1/2 games back of the NL East leading Phillies (28-21).

Tony Kemp

Was 1 for 3 last night with his 2nd double of the season and is now hitting .250. Tony has really gotten his average up in the last 10 days. He was hitting under .200 a week and a half ago. The Stros lost to the Chixox, and dropped to 33-17, but still lead the AL West by 7 1/2 over the Rangers.

Bryan Reynolds

Was 0 for 3 but had a walk and an RBI for the Pirates last night in a 9-3 loss to the Rockies. Pirates now 24-22 and 4 1/2 back of the Cubs in the NL Central. Bryan is hitting .313 this season. Playing very well and has become a fixture in left field.

Curt Casali

Hitting .269 playing backup catcher for the Reds. Curt caught Sonny’s stellar game on Monday Night. Curt does an awesome job for the Reds as the backup catcher.

Sonny Gray

Sonny went 6, gave up 5 hits, 0 runs with 4 walks and 9 K’s in the Reds 3-0 victory over the Brewers at Milwaukee. Sonny threw 103 pitches with 58 for strikes against 45 balls. He pitched a spectacular game. Sonny moved to 1-4 on the season with a 3.78 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP (Walks plus hits per inning, key stat).Sonny will pitch next Monday Night against the Pirates at home. The Reds are 22-27 and 8 back of the Cubs in the NL Central. Playing a lot better than they did last year. Much improved team.

Walker Buehler

Walker lost 4-0 to the Reds last weekend, but went 6, gave up 7 hits, but only 1 earned run with 0 walks and 7 K’s. Walk is now 4-1 with a 3.83 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP, which is outstanding. He’s walked 10 and struck out 46. Not only is he a flame thrower getting up anywhere from 97-99, but he’s also a strike thrower. Pretty outstanding combination for a pitcher. The Dodgers are 32-18 and lead the NL West by 6 games over the Padres. Walker pitches next tomorrow night (Friday) @ the Pirates

Mike Minor

Mike earned his 5th victory of the season going 6, giving up 6 hits, 2 earned, with 1 walk and 11 K’s. He ‘s now 5-3 with a 2.64 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. The Rangers’ bullpen almost gave it away, but held on for a 10-9 victory over Seattle. The Rangers are having a good season at 24-23 and 7 1/2 back of the ‘Stros. Like this Rangers team. Mike pitches next on Saturday @ the LA Angels.

David Price

David had an awesome game Monday Night in his return from the DL with elbow tightness. In a 12-2 Red Sox victory over Toronto at Toronto. David went 5, gave up 3 hits 2 runs with 0 earned, 0 walks and 4 K’s. He threw 67 pitches with 48 of them for strikes against 19 balls, which is terrific. The Red Sox had a pitch count on him due to protecting his elbow. David is now 2-2 with a 3.29 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. He has walked 10 and struck out 46. David is another extremely accurate pitcher who is hitting 94-95 with his fastball The Red Sox have been coming on lately after a very slow start and are now 26-23 and 5 1/2 games back of the Yankees in the AL East. David pitches again Saturday@ Houston. It’s the 6:15 PM CT game and will be televised by FOX. The Braves are also playing @ St. Louis, which will also be televised by FOX at 6:15 PM, so we’ll probably get the Braves, but I’ll give you a report on all our guys the first of next week. Thanks.

Predictions for the SEC Baseball Tournament

I’m going to go with the chalk here. I like Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Georgia and Mississippi State as the best 4 teams.

Semifinal game 1, Saturday noon CT, SEC Network

No.1 seed Vanderbilt vs. No.4 Mississippi State

The starting 8 for Vanderbilt is the best hitting team in the country right now. They’ve hit at a .316 clip and right fielder JJ Bleday led the conference and the country with 25 home runs. He was named SEC player of the year on Monday. Third baseman Austin Martin hit .432 this season to lead the SEC and was second nationally. He was also an All SEC player. Catcher Philip Clarke was a hitting machine as well hitting .323 and drove in 59 runs. Shortstop Ethan Paul hit .324 and drove in 63 runs. Bleday and Paul went back to back homers on a Sunday a week and a half ago in the top of the 9th inning against South Carolina to clinch that game. They did the same thing last Saturday in the final game of the regular season at Kentucky in the top of the 9th to clinch that game as well. This team is a hitting machine. But pitching can be a concern at times. The starters are pretty solid, but the bullpen, particularly the left handed arms can be wild and inaccurate. Mississippi State has the great Jake Magnum, who hit over .350 this season and is an outstanding baseball player in the outfield.

While Vanderbilt’s hitting is sensational, and the defense at a .982 percentage leads the nation, the pitching concerns me as the postseason matriculates. But I like the Commodores here.

Vanderbilt 5, State 4

Semifinal 2, No.2 Arkansas versus No.3 Georgia 4 PM CT SEC Network

I really like Georgia’s pitching. I’ll take the Dawgs over an outstanding top 10 Arkansas team that is coming back from a final appearance in the CWS where only a dropped pop fly kept them from winning it all. Pretty bullish on Georgia’s pitching though.

Georgia 4, Arkansas 2

Championship game, Sunday, 2 PM CT, ESPN2

I’m going to take the Vanderbilt Commodores to win the SEC Championship in a battle with the Dawgs. Just think Vanderbilt has the best team in the conference and while pitching is a concern at times, there are excellent arms on this team and closer Tyler Brown is a stud with 13 saves. I’ll take the Commodores.

Vanderbilt 4, Georgia 3

No.2 Commodores square off with Auburn today at 4:30 PM CT, women's and men's golf

After an extremely successful regular season, our No.2 Vanderbilt Commodores begin the postseason and the SEC Tournament today at 4:30 PM CT versus the 33-23 Auburn Tigers, a 5-3 victor yesterday over the Tennessee Vols.

We finished the season at 45-10 and 23-7 in the conference and won the SEC. We won 18 of our last 19 games. JJ Bleday was named SEC player of the year after his phenomenal season in which he led the country with 25 home runs. Austin Martin, who hit .432 this season, leading the conference and second nationally, was a first team All-SEC selection also, as were catcher Philip Clarke and closer Tyler Brown, who led the SEC with 13 saves. 

Ethan Paul was selected as a semifinalist for the Brooks Wallace Award, which recognizes the nation's top shortstop. Philip was selected as a semifinalist for the Buster Posey Award, awarded to the nation's top catcher. Austin and Julian Infante were selected on the All-SEC defensive team and Kumar Rocker was selected on the All-SEC freshmen team.

So the accolades have poured in. Still, we have a lot of work ahead of us in our pursuit for a trip to Omaha and a chance to win it all.

It starts today with Drake Fellows on the mound. Drake is 9-0 with a 4+ ERA right now, so he's had some trouble recently giving up runs, but some of it has been not as solid defense behind him. Drake's a warrior, he'll be ready. Auburn has not yet announced their pitcher today.

Awesome season, but plenty of work left starting today.

The women's golf team finished 24th at the NCAA Championships. Still had a super season and there is a lot of young talent returning.

Men's Golf tees it up on Friday at the NCAA Championships at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Will keep you up to date on the men.

Big day for the team as we start our postseason journey. Will keep you abreast on all the action in the upcoming days.

Brooks Koepka, Crimson Tide 2019

Brooks Koepka sank his 6 foot par putt on 18 after scrambling out of a downhill lie in the rough just above the sand trap at Bethpage Black on his second shot. Vintage Koepka. He’s the best frontrunner in sports. He entered Sunday’s 101st PGA Championship with a 7 shot lead, but showed some signs of shakiness, however he maintained his poise and mental toughness to shoot a hard earned 74, 4 over, on a highly formidable course with winds gusting up to 30, and capturing the Wanamaker Trophy by 2 shots over Dustin Johnson, who made a charge on the backside but bogeyed 16 and 17 to fall short, though Koepka still had to earn it on 18.

Koepka looked to be cruising with a 7 shot lead as he made the turn, but 4 straight bogeys on 11-14, alongside a Johnson birdie on 14, cut the lead to 2. Johnson’s bogey on 17 extended Kopeka’s lead to 3 before Koepka bogeyed the par 3, 17th, to only have a 2 shot lead heading into 18. Koepka summoned his iron like mentality on 18 after driving it in the rough just above the trap with just a 2 shot lead. The shot looked close to impossible, but he got it out in the fairway, 110 yards from the green. From there he hit a lob wedge to 6 feet which clinched it. He made it even more emphatic by sinking the putt and captured his 4th major in 8 attempts in less than 2 years. Pretty phenomenal stuff. He now joins elite company that has won 4 or more majors prior to their 30th birthday led by Tiger Woods with 9. Koepka is 29 and won’t turn 30 till May, 2020, so he’ll have 3 more attempts to add to that historic number. He’ll play the U.S, Open, June 16th-19th, @ Pebble Beach, the Open Championship @ Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland July 18th-21st, and the Masters next April. This is an astonishing resume Koepka is putting together. He has paid his dues too, playing on the European Tour for 3 years to learn how to play those courses as well before moving on to the PGA Tour. The guy is so mentally tough and driven. Nothing seems to faze him. He thrives on pressure.

We’re seeing some historically superb golf being played by one Brooks Koepka. It’s fun to have a dominant player on tour right now and Koepka is just that.

Alabama football 2019

Nick Saban made several changes to his coaching staff after last season including hiring Steve Sarkisian as offensive coordinator, promoting Pete Golding to defensive coordinator, hiring Kyle Flood (Offensive line), Brian Baker (Associate head coach, defensive line), Charles Huff (Associate head coach, running backs), Charles Kelly (Associate head coach, safeties), Sal Sunseri (outside linebackers) and Holmon Wiggins (wide receivers). Saban went for a more veteran staff that can still recruit, but also has more experience in coaching practices and games. I like the move. I thought Tosh Lupoi was in over his head last year as was Mike Locksley. It worked most of the season because of Saban and the talent on the field, but imploded in the national championship game versus Clemson, a 44-16 loss.

While the younger coaching staff wasn’t as effective with their coaching, they did help secure the No.1 recruiting class in the country for 2019. And with the talent returning led by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, this team looks destined to be elite once again. The 6’1”, 218 pound Tagovailoa led the country in passing touchdowns with 43, and quarterback efficiency at 199.5. He was 5th in the country with 3,966 yards passing and 6th with a 69% completion rate. And he wants to do better than that this year.

And he has a wealth of weapons around him to help him do that. Wide receiver is beyond loaded. Jerry Jeudy, the Biletnikoff Award winner last year (best wide receiver in the country), caught 68 passes for 1,315 yards and 14 TDs. He’s back for his junior season as are Henry Ruggs III (46-741 11 TDs), and Devonta Smith (42-693, 6 TDs), along with electric sophomore Jaylen Waddle (45-848, 7 TDs). And the Tide has some younger studs in Slade Bolden (redshirt freshman) Tyrell Shavers (sophomore), and stud 4 star freshmen Xavier Williams and John Metchie. Metchie had a superb r spring game catching 5 passes for 133 yards.

Taulia Tagovailoa, Tua’s younger brother, showed signs of being a terrific quarterback for the Crimson Tide in the future and a capable backup this coming season during the spring game. He zipped a 30 yard TD pass to Waddle late in the spring game that was very impressive. He’s going to be an elite signal caller in Tuscaloosa in the coming years. He’ll battle it out with Mac Jones for the backup spot. Jones had another impressive spring game, going 19 for 33 for 271 yards 2 TDs and 1 int. Early enrollee Paul Tyson will be working to get in the rotation this season, but may be redshirted for further development.

The backfield looks strong with Najee Harris and Brian Robinson leading the group. Najee along with Raekwon Davis are guys Saban would like to see become leaders of this team. Najee was a 5 star, but has yet to reach his potential. The Crimson Tide are hoping that Najee can realize that unlimited potential. Robinson had a pretty strong spring game, and looks like a great compliment to Harris. 5 star freshman Trey Sanders and 4 star freshman Keilan Roninson are coming in. Sanders is 6’1”, 205 and Robinson is 5’9”, 180. Of course, Najee (6’2”, 227) and Robinson (6’1”, 226) are horses. Chadarius Townsend (6’0”, 194) is listed as a wide receiver, but got some carries in the spring game and did well. He could be another weapon in the running game.

The offensive line is extra talented and physically imposing. Alex Leatherwood (6’6”, 310) looks to be the man at left tackle. He’s another player with unlimited potential. Emil Ekiyor (6’3”, 338) and Deonte Brown (6’4”, 342) will battle for one guard spot, Chris Owens (6’3”, 315) looks to be the anchor at center, while the trustworthy and talented Matt Womack (6’7”, 325) and Jedrick Willis Jr. (6’5”, 316) will handle right guard and right tackle respectively. And there are plenty of talented players with great size in the second and third groups that will be developed

The highly reliable Miller Forristall will be the starter at tight end most likely. Forristall, a 6’5”, 234 pound redshirt junior, has good hands and is a solid blocker. The Tide has always liked to use the tight end and have had elite players at that position, so he’ll be valuable. And there is Cameron Latu, who will join him in the starting lineup and some solid backups led by Kedrick James (6’5” 260) who made a very fine 34 yard catch and run for a TD in the spring game. He’s impressive.

Defense

The defense has some new faces who are also some great youthful talents along with some stud experienced players.

The defensive line will be anchored by Raekwon Davis (6’7” 309) who aims to fill the tremendously large shoes of Quinnen Williams, who was the 3rd pick in the draft by the New York Jets and a dominant player posting 19 1/2 tackles for loss and 8 sacks in 2018. Williams was an unblockable force for the Crimson Tide, and frankly, I thought he was the best player in the draft this year, better than Kyler Murray, who was the top pick by the Arizona Cardinals and Ohio State’s Nick Bosa, who was the second player selected by the 49ers. Bosa played only 3 games and once he got hurt, called it a college career. Quinnen will be the best pro of the three. He will have a multiple Pro Bowl career if he stays healthy, which he seems to do. Offensive tackle Jonah Williams was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals as the 11th pick of the first round, Josh Jacobs went No.24 in the first round to the Raiders. Irv Smith went in the second round to the Minnesota Vikings. Damien Harris went in the third round to the Patriots. Christian Miller was a fourth round pick by the Carolina Panthers. Deionte Thompson (Arizona), Riss Piersbacher (Redskins) and Mack Wilson (Browns) went in the fifth round, and Isaiah Buggs (Steelers) went in the 6th round.

Davis looks like he is the next guy in line and he’s already somewhat established himself as that kind of player. He posted just 5 1/2 TFLs and 1 1/2 sacks, but he’s poised to breakout this season. Joining Davis up front is the talented LaBryan Ray (6’5”, 285) who posted 6 TFLs and 2 1/2 sacks last season. He’s another stellar d linemen on this unit. DJ Dale is a 6’3”, 314 pound freshman defensive tackle who was a force in the spring game posting 2 sacks and emerging as a major disruptor to the offense. They’ll be backed up by sophomore Phidarian Mathis (6’4”, 317), also a major force in the spring game, 5 star freshman Antonio Alfano (6’4”, 288), redshirt freshman Christian Barmore (6’4”, 310), senior Tevita Musika (6’1”, 342), redshirt freshman Stephon Wynn Jr (6’4”, 295) and high 4 star freshman Justin Eboigbe (6’5”, 283). There are some new faces in this group, but Davis and Ray will lead and there is great depth and talent.

At linebacker, junior Dylan Moses (6’3”, 235) will be the leader of the linebacking corps, and, along with Davis, the leader of the defense. He may be the ultimate leader. Moses can potentially be a dominating player and a strong leader on this Crimson Tide team. He led the team with 86 tackles last season and posted 10 TFLs and 3 1/2 sacks. Joshua McMillon will join him in the starting lineup in the middle of the defense. McMillan is 6’3”, 237 and is looking to break out this season as well. Shane Lee, s 6’0”, 235 pound 6.0, 4 star freshman, was a major force in the middle during the spring game and had a terrific interception of a Mac Jones pass that he returned for 20 yards. He’s a superb athlete. Jaylen Moody is a 6’2”, 225 sophomore who intercepted a Paul Tyson pass and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown. He’s an incredible athlete as well. Markail Benton (6’2”, 235) and Ale Kaho (6’1”, 224) are talented backups also.

At outside linebacker, the great Anfernee Jennings returns. Jennings is a 6’3”, 259 redshirt senior who posted 13 TFLs last season along with 5 1/2 sacks. He’s an enforcer on the edge as is Terrell Lewis (6’5”, 252) a talent who missed all of last season with an injury, but, like Jennings, is an NFL talent. Lewis and Jennings need to stay healthy, and if they do, they’ll excel. Eyabi Anoma (6’5”, 252), the talented Christopher Allen (6’4”, 250), 4 star freshman Kevin Harris II (6’4”, 218) and Ben Davis 6’4”, 238) will be key backups. Davis is kind of a mystery man. He was a 5 star out of high school but has never materialized. I’m sure Pete Golding is hoping he can get more out of this talented player this summer and into the season. Hoping senior Joe Donald (6’3”, 216) can get a shot at some point. Joe 4 was a standout at Mountain Brook High School in football, basketball and baseball and was a warrior linebacker. He was scout team player of the week 3 times last season, so if he gets a shot, he’ll produce. I’m sure his dad and mom would like that.

The secondary has exceptional talent. Trevon Diggs was hurt all of last season, but returns for his junior season. Diggs is a major talent at corner. He had an interception at the end of the spring game and he could be a 5 to 6 interception player this coming season. Patrick Surtain II and Shyheim Carter will man the corner and star positions. Both are extremely talented and experienced. Look for Josh Jobe to make an impact at corner. He had an awesome spring game. At safety, Xavier McKinney and Jared Mayden look to be the starters. McKinney and Mayden both have great talent. Mayden had a pick in the spring game and looks awesome. McKinney is a returning starter and should be set for a huge season. Daniel Wright and Eddie Smith will back them up. Jordan Battle, a 6.0, 4 star, and 5.9, 4 star, Demarcco Hellams are coming this summer.

Special Teams

Alabama’s Achilles Heel has been at kicker for several years now, but S went out and got super high school kicker Will Reichard from Hoover. Reichard will battle with Joseph Bulovas for the job. Skyler Long will punt, Jaylen Waddle will try to add to his already illustrious resume as a punt returner this season, and Ruggs III and Brian Robinson will return kicks. The holders are Mac Jones and Tua. The long snapper is Thomas Fletcher.

Schedule

The Crimson Tide opens the season Saturday August 31st versus Duke at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. David Cutcliffe has done an amazing job at Duke, winning 6 to 7 games even 8 every year and winning or being competitive in bowl games, but this one could get out of hand in the second half.

New Mexico State at home on Saturday, September 7th, then @ South Carolina on Saturday, 9-14 in what could be a tricky one, though the Gamecocks will be trying to get a quarterback ready as Jake Bentley has graduated. Then Southern Miss comes to Bryant-Denny on Saturday, Sept. 21. Ole Miss visits Tuscaloosa Saturday, Sept. 28th. Then an open week, followed by a key trip to College Station on Saturday, Oct. 12th to face Texas A&M, which will be charged up in Jimbo Fisher’s second season. Then Tennessee comes to Tuscaloosa on Saturday, Oct. 19th. Arkansas follows the Vols into Bryant-Denny on Saturday, Oct. 26th, then an off week, followed by a visit to Tuscaloosa by the LSU Tigers on Saturday, November 9th. Then @ Miss,. State on Saturday Nov. 16th, Western Carolina comes to town on Saturday, 11-23, then @ the Auburn Tigers, Saturday, November 30th. The SEC Championship game is Saturday, December 7th at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Assessment of the season

I see Nick Saban having the material to win his 6th national championship at Alabama. The last 5 have come in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2017. The potential is there barring any colossal injuries, namely Tua, though he’s got some redeeming to do after the SEC and national championship performances last season. I see him answering the bell. This team has the tools to win it all once again.

Bleday, Scott, Paul go deep in Commodores victory, pro players, Women's Tennis just falls short, Women's Golf trying to power through

The No.2 ranked Vanderbilt Commodores are now SEC regular season champions by virtue of our 12-4 victory over Kentucky last night coupled with an Arkansas loss to Texas A&M.

With the win, we moved to 44-10 on the season and 22-7 in the SEC with one more game left. We will be the No.1 seed in the double elimination SEC Tournament at the Hoover (AL) Met. Our first game will be at 4:30 PM CT Wednesday and will be televised by the SEC Network. Our opponent is to be determined today. Will be either Alabama, South Carolina or Kentucky depending on the outcomes of today’s games.

JJ Bleday cranked his nation’s leading 24th home run. JJ now has 63 Ribeyes as well. Julian Infante hit a bases clearing double. Good to see our big man getting in the act. Stephen Scott hit his 4th homer in 3 days and his 3rd of the series. Stephen now has 10 homers and 44 RBIs on the year. Ethan Paul hit an oppo homer to left field, a 3 run shot in the 8th. We posted 12 hits on the night. Austin Martin was 1 for 4 and is now hitting .438. Not sure what the New Mexico State kid did, but will keep you posted on if Austin wins the batting average crown nationally. Austin also stole 2 bases and has 13 on the season. Harrison Ray was 1 for 5 but stole his 15th base in 18 attempts this season and had another terrific night at 2nd. JJ was 2 for 4 with 4 RBis, Ethan Paul was 2 for 3 with 4 ribbies. Ethan is now hitting .326 with 7 homers and 63 Ribeyes, tied for the team RBI lead with JJ. Philip Clarke was 2 for 4 and both were for extra bases. Philip had 2 doubles and an RBI. Philip is now hitting .319 with 13 doubles, 3 triples 6 homers and 59 RBI’s. We are a run driving in machine. Ethan and Stephen lead the team with 18 doubles and Austin leads the team with 4 triples.

Kumar had a solid night going 7, giving up 8 hits, 4 earned, with 0 walks and 6 K’s. Great stuff from one of our studs on the mound. Kumar just keeps getting better and better and the ceiling looks unlimited. He’ll be huge in the postseason. Kumar moved to 7-5 with a 4.32 ERA with 15 walks and 68 strikeouts. Kumar is a strike throwing machine with incredible stuff. Jake Eder came in and pitched superbly in the 8th and 9th, giving up 0 hits, 0 runs with 0 walks and 3 K’s. Kumar hit 95 a couple of times, and was in the 92-93 range throughout the game, while Eder was hitting 95-96 throughout his 2 innings of work.

One more hurdle to climb in the regular season as we face the Wildcats today in game 3. Patrick Raby (9-1, 2.42) will be on the hill for us, and Rabes will face Kentucky lefty Zack Thompson (6-1, 2.14) First pitch is at 1 PM CT with SEC Network+ broadcasting. Would be excellent to get one more victory and keep the momentum going into the tournament.

MLB guys

Dansby Swanson hit his 7th home run of the season, a 3 run shot in the bottom of the 6th to help lead the Braves to a 12-8 victory over a very good Milwaukee Brewers team. Dans now has 29 RBIs on the season as well. Dans has been in a little but of a slump lately, so it was really good to see him break out. He is now hitting .244. Would like to see that average keep climbing going forward. He’s too good a hitter to hit .244. Hitting can come and go in pro baseball, but I know Dans is working hard on it and has the potential to be a .285-.290 hitter, even .300 in the future. Just needs to get in a rhythm at the plate. Dans playing pretty solid short as well. The Braves are now 24-21 and have been on a tear lately. They are presently 1 1/2 games back of the Phillies, who lead the NL East at 25-19.

Bryan Reynolds was 2 for 4 last night with a 2 run homer and a pair of ribbies. That was Bryan’s second homer of the season and he’s now hitting .309 and looking pretty established in left field for the Pittsburgh Pirates which defeated the San Diego Padres 5-3, to move to 22-20 on the season and 3 games back of the NL Central leading Chicago Cubs.

Tony Kemp was hitless last night for the Astros and is hitting .227, but Tony is showing signs of hitting better. He’s been playing second as Jose Altuve has been battling injuries. Tony always plays stellar defense and his bat will come around. The Astros have been red hot lately They are 30-15 with the best record in baseball and lead the AL West by 6 1/2 games over the LA Angels.

Walker Buehler is on the hill for the Dodgers today at Cincinnati. Walk is 4-0 with 4.15 ERA and a very good WHIP (walks+hits per inning) at 1.04. Anything under 1.10 is very good. Under 1.00 is outstanding. So Walk is close. He got hit hard a couple of times earlier in the season, but he’s been cookln lately. Looking forward to seeing him pitch versus the Reds. The Dodgers are 30-16 and lead the NL West by 4 1/2 games over the Arizona Dbacks.

MIke Minor pitches Monday at home versus Seattle. Mike is 4-3 with a 2.61 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP He’s been pretty spectacular many times this season. Mike’s always had awesome stuff, but his fastball hits 95 consistently now and can get to 96. It’s phenomenal.

David Price is scheduled to come off the DL and pitch Monday at Toronto. David has dealt with some elbow tightness, but looks to be ready to go. David is having a pretty solid year despite being banged up a little. He’s 1-2 with a 3.75 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. David has walked only 10 batters in 36 innings and struck out 42. He’s just supremely accurate. Will be good to see DP back on the mound.

Sonny Gray pitches Tuesday @ Milwaukee. Sonny is 0-4 with a 4.30 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. He hasn’t pitched that badly this season, he’s just had problems giving up the long ball. Still believe in him.

Women’s Tennis battles, just falls short

Our No.8 women’s tennis team fought till the end against No.1 Georgia but just came up barely short, falling 4-3 at Orlando in the Elite 8 of the NCAA Championships.

Awesome season once again for Coach Geoff McDonald and the team though. I know we fell short of our goal, which is to win it all every year, but we’ve got some good players returning led by junior Christina Rosca and freshman Georgia Drummy, and some good players coming in, so we should be highly competitive once again next season. That’s always the case with Geoff McDonald teams.

Fernanda Contreras finished strong in her senior year winning in straight sets at No.2 yesterday. We’ll miss Fernanda. She’s been an awesome representative of Vanderbilt both on the court and in the classroom. She was the ultimate leader of this team. But Fern has a lot of tennis left in front of her. She’ll set out to make her way on the professional circuit. I’ll keep you posted on Fern’s progress.

Also, Astra Sharma will be competing next Sunday in the French Open which begins a week from tomorrow, June 26th. Will be awesome to see Astra compete at Roland Garros as she keeps matriculating up the world rankings. She is now at No.100.

Astra will also play at the Wimbledon Championships in July, July 1st-14th. So great stuff from our former All American. It’s amazing to think that Astra was a senior on the team just last year.the team that fell in the national championship match to Stanford but had a spectacular season. It just seems like a long time ago. Maybe because she’s already become so outstanding on the pro tour. She had a great career at VU and has an awesome career ahead of her on the WTA circuit. Excited to see her play next week in Paris

Women’s Golf fighting for a top 15 spot

Women’s golf is presently in 21st place at 34 over at the NCAA Championships at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville. We are 10 strokes behind No. 15 Wake Forest (+24). The top 15 after 3 days of stroke play advance to the 4th round of stroke play, so we have our work cut out for us. We are 7 over today through holes 9-10. Gotta start making some birdies. Still time left if we can start cranking it up.

Pitching kind of makes it hard, but offense delivers again, Women's Tennis and Women's Golf competing in NCAA Championships today

Our No.2 Vanderbilt baseball team took a 9-1 lead into the 5th, but then pitching got in trouble and we fell behind 10-9 going into the top of the 8th. After singles by Austin Martin and JJ, Bleday we had runners at first and third with one out. Then the lightning and heavy rain came and the game was delayed 2 hours and 4 minutes. When the action commenced once again, Philip Clarke laced a 2 run triple to put us in front, and Harrison Ray added an RBI double in the ninth then Ty Duvall and AMart tacked on run scoring singles in that frame to clinch the victory, 16-10.

We moved to 43-10 overall, and, more importantly, 21-7 in the SEC. Arkansas, Mississippi State and Georgia all won last night as well. Arkansas defeated A&M, 7-3, State won 24-7 over South Carolina, and Georgia defeated Alabama, 9-4. We own a 1 game lead over Arkansas (20-8, 40-13) and a 2 game lead over State (19-9, 44-10) and Georgia (19-9, 40-14). So we have plenty of work ahead of us tonight and tomorrow afternoon. Tonight’s game starts at 5:30 CT and will be broadcast by SEC Network+. Kumar Rocker will be on the hill for us. Kumar is 6-5 with a 4.22 ERA and keeps improving every outing. He’s going to be a terrific pitcher for us, he already is, and we need him tonight and down the stretch. Kumar will face lefty Dillon Marsh of UK who is 3-2 with a 5.48 ERA. Tomorrow’s game is at 1 PM CT with Rabes on the hill.

Stephen Scott belted 2 home runs over the right and right central field walls, a 3 run shot and a solo blast. Stephen now has 9 homers and 43 Ribeyes on the season and is now hitting .324. AMart was 4 for 5 with an RBI and 4 runs scored. The amazing Austin is now hitting .442 and playing phenomenal third base. Austin is now leading the country in hitting by a .01 point over Nick Gonzales of New Mexico State (.441). He’s spectacular. AMart and JJ, who are semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award, are now also 2 of 26 semifinalists for the Dick Howser Award, for the most outstanding player in college baseball. Here are the details of the award by Andrew Pate, the sports information director for baseball at Vanderbilt.

“ Vanderbilt right fielder JJ Bleday and third baseman Austin Martin have been named among 26 semifinalists for the Dick Howser Trophy, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association announced Thursday.

 The Dick Howser Trophy is presented annually to the nation’s most outstanding collegiate baseball player. The NCBWA votes for the recipient based on nominees' performance, character, leadership and courage. Finalists will be unveiled June 7 and the winner will be announced June 16 at the College World Series.”

The Golden Spikes Award will be announced at that time as well. With the finalists being announced soon.

So awesome stuff from Austin and JJ. Clarke was 2 for 6 with 4 Ribbies. Philip is now hitting .317 with 6 homers and 58 Ribeyes. Scott was 3 for 4 with 4 Ribbies. Ty Duvall, out of the designated hitter role, was 3 for 5 with 2 RBIs. Ray was 2 for 5 with an RBI double, and Pat DeMarco was 2 for 6 with a pair of Ribbies. We finished with 19 hits on the night. We are now hitting .318 as a team. Bleday is hitting .345, Scott .324, Ethan Paul .321, Clarke .317, DeMarco, .306, Duvall .271 and Ray .269.

We had 3 gems in the field as well. Harrison made a couple of super plays at second. He just keeps excelling both in the field and at the plate at clutch moments. JJ gunned down a runner trying to score from third on a rope-like throw from right field. What a talent. Would like to see him start hitting the long ball again. He’s been stuck on 23 for a while now. But as long as he hits well and plays stellar defense, I’m good. He’ll crank one soon. Hopefully several more.

Drake Fellows went 5.2 and pitched and battled and didn’t pitch badly. Drake gave up 7 hits, 5 runs with 3 walks and 6 K’s. But Fellows should have gotten out of the bottom of the 6th up 9-3 when, with 2 outs, the Kentucky batter lifted a fly ball to center that DeMarco lost in the lights.It was a routine play, but DeMarco couldn’t find the ball. It dropped and 2 runs scored. Drake was lifted by Corbs after that. A. J. Franklin struggled a little and Hugh Fisher had some issues, but Zach King pitched the 8th and the 9th allowing 2 hits, 0 runs with 0 walks and 2 K’s. It was a solid performance by Zach. Our bullpen is going to have to be good. Our whole pitching staff is going to have to be. You have to do it all, pitch, hit and defend to be elite. We’re hitting and defending at a high level, and many times we’re getting good pitching, but we’ll need to become even more consistent in that facet of the game.

Women’s Tennis

Our No.8 Women’s Tennis team will face a major challenge today as we take on the No.1 Georgia Bulldogs in the Elite 8 of the NCAA Championships in Orlando, FL. The match will begin at 4 PM CT and will be televised by the Tennis Channel. We’ve lost to Georgia twice this season so it’s bound to take a turn in our favor. I like the way we soundly defeated No.18 Texas A&M last Saturday at the Currey Tennis Center, 4-0. A&M had defeated us 4-1 at their place earlier in the season. So a lot of momentum for Coach Geoff McDonald, and players Fernanda Contreras, Christina Rosca, Georgia Drummy, Amanda Meyer, Emma Kurtz, Carolyn Campana, etc… Should be a terrific match. Really pumped to see our women compete for another Final Four spot. We have it in us to win this match.

Women’s Golf

Our No.8 women’s golf team tees off at 1:01 PM CT at the Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Arkansas in the NCAA Championships. We are paired with No.9 Florida State and No.10 Arkansas. The course is playing 6,397 yards and is a par 73. Presently No. 23 San Jose State, No.17 Virginia, No. 14 Arizona State and No.22 Purdue lead at 7 over with a lot of holes left to play. Need a super day from Auston Kim, Morgan Baxendale, Abbey Carlson, Louise Yu and Courtney Zeng. There are 24 teams competing in 3 days of stroke competition, with the top 15 after 3 rounds competing in a 4th, 18 hole round to cut it down to an Elite Eight, where match play will commence. The championship match will be held next Wednesday, May 22nd and will be televised by the Golf Channel.

Will keep you apprised on both the Women’s Tennis and Women’s Golf team throughout the weekend along with our spectacular baseball team. All 3 teams are phenomenal.

Our super men’s golf team tees off next Friday (5-24) in the NCAA Championships. Will give you all the coverage of our No.4 men’s team next week. They will also be playing at Blessings Golf Club. We will be one of 30 teams with 3 rounds of stroke play that cuts it down to 15 teams, then another round of stroke play that cuts it down to an Elite Eight that will play match play from then on to determine the national champion. The semifinals and the championship matches will be broadcast by the Golf Channel. The stroke play and quarters may as well. I’ll find out and let you know. The championship match is Wednesday, May 29th. Will Gordon, Patrick Martin, John Augenstein, Harrison Ott and Reid Davenport will bring their highly competitive mentality, that our Coach, Scott Limbaugh, emphasizes, to Fayetteville.

The 144th Preakness Stakes

The second jewel of the Triple Crown takes place tomorrow at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore as the Preakness Stakes commences with a 5:48 PM CT post time. NBC will broadcast. Here are the odds for each horse.

Improbable 5/2

War of Will 4/1

Anothertwistafe 6/1

Alwaysmining 8/1

Owendale 10/1

Bourbon War 12/1

Warrior’s Charge 12/1

Win Win Win 15/1

Laughing Fox 20/1

Bodespress 20/1

Market KIng 31/1

Signalman 30/1

Everfast 50/1

There are 13 horses entered in race on the 1 mile 3/16 race course. Trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith teamed up to win the Triple Crown on Justify last year, and the 66 year old Baffert trained American Pharoah, the 2015 Triple Crown winner. Baffert has won 7 Preakness’s and has 15 Triple Crown victories on his Hall of Fame resume. The 53 year old Smith has won 7 triple crown races and 2 Preakness’s in 1993 and in 2018 aboard Justify. They’re a hard duo to go against aboard Improbable, the favorite in the race.

But, I’m going to go a different direction. This thoroughbred has won his last 6 races and won his last race, a mile and 1/8, by 11 1/2 lengths on April 20th at Laurel Park in Maryland. He’s a Maryland bred horse and trying to become the first horse from that state to win the Preakness since 1983 when Deputed Testamony won it (36 years). He did not compete in the Derby as his team opted to rest him for the Preakness.

There is a good chance for dry conditions on the track (finally), but there is also a chance of a pop up t-storm around 6-7 PM ET (5-6 PM CT), but this colt has won on a muddy track, so believe in him in that case as well.

I’m going to go with Maryland based trainer Kelly Rubley and jockey Deniel Centeno and take the 8/1 horse at Pimlico.

Alwaysmining

Bullish on Alwaysmining at the Preakness (Photo, Horse Racing Nation).

Bullish on Alwaysmining at the Preakness (Photo, Horse Racing Nation).


The 101st PGA Championship

It’s kind of hard to fathom we’re at another major championship as it seems the Masters just ended rather recently. Tiger Woods is still basking in the glory and got a Presidential Medal of Freedom from Trump for being a great golfer but a disastrous husband. Go figure that one out.

With the new PGA schedule, the PGA Championship is now in May. It takes a little getting used to, but I like it in the long run as it keeps golf relevant in August with the Fed Ex Cup which will finish before football season commences. I like that we have another major right now.

Brooks Koepka is the defending champion at the PGA and has won 3 out of the last 7 majors he’s competed in. He won the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills, Wisconsin, the 2018 U.S. at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island and the PGA Championship at Bellerive Golf Club in St. Louis last August. He missed the 2018 Masters with a wrist injury.

Bethpage Black will be the host site. The 7,432 yard, par 70 layout sets up well for the big hitters as length will be an major asset on this lengthy track.I guess you can say when is length not an asset, but on this long course that is somewhat saturated from rain, longer players will have an advantage hitting into the greens.

Hole 4 is the signature hole, a 517 yard par 5 with bunkers everywhere and a difficult tee shot and approach. No.17 is a 207 yard par 3 considered very difficult with it playing as short as 160 or as long as 225 depending on where the pin is positioned. No.18 is a 411 yard par 4, and an awesome finishing hole with chances of birdies, but also chances of disaster on Sunday.

Woods won the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage and Lucas Glover won the 2009 Open here.

The weather looks pretty good overall. Thursday is 67 and partly sunny, winds 8-10, Friday chance of showers or t storm, wind 10-18. Saturday and Sunday are nice. 69 and 68 and partially sunny. Winds 8-10.

TV:

Thursday, 12-6 PM CT, TNT

Friday, 12-6:30 PM CT, TNT;

Saturday-Sunday, 10 AM-1 PM CT, TNT; 1-6 PM CT CBS.

Winner

Sometimes I favor the out of the box thinking in predictions, but I’m going to stay within the box. The 29 year old from West Palm Beach via Florida State won the PGA last year shooting 69,63, 66, 66 defeating Eldrick by 2 shots with 3 straight birdies on 15 through 17. I really like the fact that he played last week and shot 65,66,68,65, -20 for a 4th place finish at the AT&T Byron Nelson 3 back of winner Sung Kang. He was a barely missed 20 foot birdie putt on 18 at Augusta National of sending himself into a playoff with Eldrick.

He’s like Alabama and Clemson, he delivers. I’m taking this stalliion to win major number 4 in 8 tries.

Brooks Koepka

Like Koepka at Bethpage Black (Photo, PGA Tour).

Like Koepka at Bethpage Black (Photo, PGA Tour).

Men's Golf finishes 3rd at Athens onto NCAA Championships, Baseball keeps truckin

The 4th ranked Vanderbilt Men’s Golf team closed with a team 1 under round today to finish at +1 for the Athens Regional and in third place insuring we will be traveling next week to play in the NCAA Championships at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Will Gordon shot 3 under par 68 to lead the team and fell just 3 strokes short of winning the individual low medalist award shooting -6 over for the three days. Awesome effort from our senior from Davidson, N.C. Quite a future in the game for Will. I know he wants to go out as a national champion before that though.

John “Clutch” Augenstein finished 9th at even par. John didn’t have his best day today shooting +3, but he’s a fighter and I’m glad he’s on our team heading into next week. The NCAA Championships start a week from Friday, May 24th with 3 rounds of stroke play with the top 15 places out of 30 qualifying for a final 18 holes of stroke play. The top 8 teams that emerge from the 4th round of stroke play will square off in match play to determine the national champion. The championship match is Wednesday, May 29th.

Harrison Ott played well and finished tied for 10th at +1. Patrick Martin didn’t have his best tournament finishing at +10, but I like PMart in the championships. He’ll give us great effort and toughness.

No.16 Georgia won at 8 under on their home course the University of Georgia Golf Course in Athens. No.9 Duke was next at -1. We were third at +1, SMU was fourth at +16 and No.22 Liberty was the final team to make it to the championships finishing at +18.

So now our team gets ready for the big tournament. Tremendous that we got there once again under our superb coach, Scott Limbaugh, but I know Scott and the team want to do a lot more than this next week in Fayetteville. Great stuff from the guys. Will keep you informed on the team going forward into the championships a week from Friday.

Baseball a 5-2 winner

Our No.2 ranked baseball team took care of business last night at Hawkins Field, behind some timely hitting and solid pitching.

Stephen Scott hit a 2 run shot in the 4th over the right field wall to put us up 2-0. That was Stephen’s 7th homer of the season and RBIs 38 and 39. Harrison Ray hit a two out RBI double in the sixth and Ethan Paul and Pat DeMarco drove in runs in the seventh with Paul’s double and DeMarco’s single.

Austin Martin was 2 for 5 and is now hitting .432. DeMarco was 2 for 4 and is hitting .305. Ethan is at .327 and has a team leading 18 doubles on the season. He’s one ahead of Scott, who has 17. Stephen is at .317, and Harrison Ray, who has driven in 16 runs in his last 18 outings, is hitting .265 and is 14-of-17 in stolen bases. Harrison is a key part of this team. He’s been hugely clutch lately. All our players have come through in the clutch many times this season, but Harrison has been terrific at the plate and at second in the last 3 weeks.

Mason Hickman started, went 5, giving up 3 hits, 2 earned runs, with 2 walks and 10 K’s. Mason didn’t get the victory, but he’s still 6-0 with a 2.26 ERA and has walked only 15 in 67 innings and has struck out 89. Hick has been on fire. We’ll really need him in the postseason. Jake Eder came in and pitched the 6th and the 7th, giving up 2 hits, 0 runs, with 0 walks and 4 K’s. Super performance by Jake. He got the victory his first of the season. He’s 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA. Jackson Gillis got them out in the 8th without any damage, giving up 1 hit, but no runs. Tyler Brown pitched the 9th and let 2 guys get on, but struck out 2 and stranded 2 guys on base for his 13th save. Tyler has been phenomenal this season. He is also 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA with 7 walks and 47 K’s in 33 innings of work. Tyler is a key piece to our success going forward as he has been all season. We’ll need guys like Eder and Gillis along with Hugh Fisher, A. J. Franklin, Ethan Smith and Chance Huff to deliver out of the pen as well. One of those guys or a couple might get some starts in the postseason, so they’ll have to be ready for that.

We are now 42-10 and 20-7 in the SEC with a one game lead over Arkansas (19-8) and a 2 game lead over Georgia (18-9) and Mississippi State (18-9)

We head to Lexington tomorrow for a final 3 game set in the conference at Kentucky. First pitch tomorrow (Thursday) night is at 5:30 CT. Friday’s game is also at 5:30 PM CT, and Saturday’s game is at 1 PM CT. All 3 games will be broadcast by the SEC Network+.

Kentucky is 26-25 overall and, more importantly, 7-20 in the SEC and battling with Alabama and South Carolina for the final 12th spot in the SEC tournament, so they’ll be very hungry. Both Alabama and SC are at 7-20 as well. So a lot to play for this weekend. Will keep you apprised throughout the weekend on our team’s progress. Drake, Thursday, Kumar, Friday and Rabes on Saturday.

Baseball with another solid weekend, Men's golf competing in Athens Regional, Women's tennis advances to Elite Eight, Women's Golf preparing for NCAA Championships

We had another very good weekend of baseball taking 2 of 3 games from the Missouri Tigers to move to 41-10 overall and 20-7 in the SEC. We now hold a 1 game lead over Arkansas (19-8) in the conference. Georgia and Mississippi State are next at 18-9. Just have to keep playing well starting tonight at 6:30 CT vs Middle Tennessee at the Hawk. The game will be broadcast by SEC Network+. We then head to Kentucky for a weekend series beginning Thursday Night. Thursday’s game is at 5:30 PM, Friday’s game is at 5:30 as well and Saturday’s finale will take place at 1 PM. All those times are central and all 3 games can be seen on the SEC Network+ site on the ESPN app.

Mason Hickman will be our starter tonight. Mason pitched well against No.5 Louisville last Tuesday Night and is now 6-0 with a 2.15 ERA with 13 walks and 79 strikeouts. That’ terrific. We are ranked No.2 in the country by D1 Baseball, the College Baseball Sports Writers Association and Collegiate Baseball News. We are No.1 in the RPI, Ratings Percentage Index, so there is a chance we can be the No.1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament if we take care of business this week and in the SEC Tournament and No.1 UCLA stumbles in the coming weeks. Still, it’s been a phenomenal season, but a lot of work ahead of us.

Friday, it was about Drake Fellows, our standout Friday Night starter. Drake was named Co-SEC player of the week for his performance in a 5-2 victory. Drake went 7, gave up 4 hits, 2 runs with only 1 earned, with 2 walks and 11 K’s. Drake moved to 10-0 and now has a 4.08 ERA. He had 1 bad outing a few weeks ago and that catapulted his ERA. But he’s been superb and we need him to keep performing at this elite level. Hugh Fisher and Tyler Brown pitched perfect 8th and 9th innings respectively. Tyler earned his 12th save. Harrison Ray had another big hit, a 2 run double in the right central field gap in the 3rd. Harrison is playing stellar ball right now. The phenomenal Austin Martin was 3 for 5 and Philip Clarke was 2 for 4 with an RBI single. Drake committed the only error of the night.

Saturday we took a 5-2 L to snap our 13 game winning streak. You just expect this team to win every time out and when they don’t it’s almost shocking. But Corbs and his team understand every game matters. Kumar pitched pretty well actually. He went 6, gave up 3 runs, with only 2 earned, with a walk and 4 K’s. I don’t see that as any problem for Kumar. He was solid, he’s a confident pitcher and he’s very trustworthy. Our defense wasn’t that stellar behind him.

On Sunday, we had 8 hits and 7 runs and Rabes went 6, gave up 6 hits , 1 run with 3 walks and 5 K’s. I know Rabes wants to cut down on the walks, but even when he walks a guy he works the corners and the bottom of the plate so much, that sometimes he doesn’t get the calls when they look like strikes. He’s pitching very well though. Hugh Fisher came in and closed out the last 3 innings giving up a hit, a run with 0 walks and 8 K’s. Hugh has dynamite stuff with a fastball hitting 95-96, and some nice offspeed stuff. AMart was once again spectacular, going 3 for 4 which included a key 2 run double. Pat DeMarco had a big game going 2 for 4 with his 4th homer o of the season over the Green Monster in left along with 3 Ribeyes. We played solid defense as well.

Rabes is now 9-1 with a 2.42 ERA. He has walked 36 and struck out 67. Kumar is 6-5 with a 4.22 ERA with 15 walks and 62 K’s. We’ve got a solid 4 man group including Hickman. Our team ERA is now 3.80, good for 6th in the SEC. Would like to see us even develop more bullpen depth with guys like Chance Huff, Jackson Gillis and Jake Eder getting more in the mix. I know Corbs has to trust’em before he can put them in, but would just like to see if these guys can perform to help out our starters, and our main bullpen guys, Fisher, Ethan Smith, A.J. Franklin and Tyler.

Corbs described our defense as solid not spectacular before the Louisville game. I would agree with that assessment, though I have seen us start making some stellar plays. Austin has been phenomenal at third the last couple of weeks. Harrison Ray had a super week at 2nd, particularly on the weekend against Missouri. Ethan Paul is solid at short. Maybe not with the range of Connor Kaiser, but Ethan just converted from second base, so he’s done an excellent job manning the shortstop position. Julian Infante is a very solid first baseman. Would like to see Julian hit the ball better, but he’s very good at first. The outfield of Stephen Scott, DeMarco and JJ Bleday is very solid. JJ has a cannon in right and Pat and Stephen have solid arms in center and left respectively, and all 3 have pretty good speed. Philip Clarke and Ty Duvall are very competent behind the plate. We’re still fielding at a .981 clip, which leads the conference and is 8th in the country. Corbs was accurate before the Louisville game, but we keep improving and could be an elite defensive team going forward as we keep improving and getting reps under our belts.

So, as usual, super stuff coming out of our baseball team. We’ve got a chance to be elite. There’s plenty left to accomplish though and many challenges ahead. But there’s a lot to like about this baseball team.

Men’s Golf at the Athens Regional

Our men’s golf team is currently in 3rd place at the University of Georgia course in Athens, GA in day 2. No. 16 (national rank) Georgia leads at -7, No. 9 Duke is second at -2 and our No.4 team is third at +3. We are +1 today. We are through holes 15-18. Will Gordon is -1 through 15, Patrick Martin is +2 through 17, John Augenstein is even through 15 and Harrison Ott is even, but has birdied 3 holes on the backside. So we’re hanging tough. Nevada and Liberty are tied for 4th at +12. The top 5 teams advance to the NCAA Championships at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, ARK. which begin Friday, May 24th-Wednesday, May 29th. I know Coach Limbaugh wants us to win this regional and we’ll need to finish strong today and have a really phenomenal 3rd round. Just got to finish up solidly today. Will definitely keep you posted on our men.

Women’s Tennis head to Elite 8

The great Geoff McDonald has led his Vanderbilt Women’s Tennis team to another Elite Eight and the NCAA Championships in Orlando, Florida. Our No.8 women defeated No.18 Texas A&M 4-0 to advance to Friday’s round of 8 where we’ll play No.1 Georgia at 4 PM CT. vucommodores.com will enable you to stream the match live. But what another great accomplishment for our women. Fernanda Contreras/Georgia Drummy and Christina Rosca/Amanda Meyer got our doubles point and then Christina and Emily Smith both won their singles matches and freshman Carolyn Campana clinched the match for us, 7-5, 6-4. Just a terrific effort by our women. We have played Georgia twice, falling to them 3-4 at the National Team Indoors in February, and in Athens to end the regular season, 1-4. But it’s a new match, and we’re on a roll, so I like our chances. Geoff McDonald’s teams are always ferocious competitors and always peak at the right time. Will keep you apprised of how our women fare. Feel good about our chances.

Women’s Golf begins NCAA play Friday

Our No.4 women’s golf team is one of 24 teams competing for the NCAA Championship beginning this Friday at Blessings Golf Club as well. There will be 54 holes of stroke play where the top 15 teams make it to an additional fourth round of stroke play and the the top 8 teams that emerge rom that group of 15 teams will compete for the national championship in match play. Coach Greg Allen was selected as SEC Coach of the year and junior Abbey Carlson and freshman Auston Kim were named to the All SEC team. Senior Courtney Zeng was a second team selection. Auston was also named to the SEC All-freshman team. Auston won the individual title last week at the Auburn Regional, which we won, shooting a score of 6 under par. We’ve got a phenomenal team that has a shot to win it all. But Coach Allen, like Corbs, Scott Limbaugh, and Geoff, takes it a round at a time. Need to start off well on Friday. Will also keep you posted on how our awesome women are doing.

*** Update on Men’s Golf***

We are now at +3 on holes 17-18. Georgia still leads at -4 but coming back a little. Duke is at -1. We are third. If we can finish strong we’re in the hunt tomorrow.

****Men’s Golf finishes in great position****

We finished +2 overall. John Augenstein and Patrick Martin both birdied 17. Georgia is finished @ -4, Duke is second at -3, then we’re third. Liberty is 4th at +13 and Tennessee and Memphis are tied for 5th at +16. John A shot a 2 under 69, Will Gordon shot a 1 under 70, Harrison Ott shot even par 71, and Patrick shot 2 over 73. Harrison birdied 11, 16 and 17. Will was solid all day with his birdie on 11 and no bogeys. John’s birdies were on 3, 10 and 17, and Patrick battled hard. The whole team battled hard. I know Scott is proud of the effort. We’re only 6 strokes back of Georgia and 5 back of Duke, so if we can have a big day tomorrow, we can win this thing. Will keep you apprised throughout the day tomorrow. Great stuff from the team.

Baseball, Basketball, Women's Golf on a tear

The 3 major keys to our No.3 team's victory last night, 6-2 over No.5 Louisville, were the pitching of Mason Hickman, A.J. Franklin and Tyler Brown, the stellar defense and overall play by Austin Martin and the clutch 2 run double by Harrison Ray in the top of the 8th.

Hick pitched extremely well going 5.2 giving up 6 hits, 2 runs with 0 walks and 5 K's. Hick is just a strike thrower and when you do that you give your team a chance to win. He's been superb this season. He is 6-0 with a 2.15 ERA with just 13 walks and 79 strikeouts.

A.J. Franklin was just as spectacular in his 2.1 innings of relief. A.J. gave up just 3 hits, 0 runs with 0 walks and 3 K's. He was supremely clutch when we were tied 2-2 and the game was up for grabs. Tyler entered in the 9th and did what Tyler Brown does. He got the Cardinal hitters out 1-2-3 and struck out 2 of them before getting their final hitter to ground out to Austin to end the game.

Austin played another phenomenal game going 2 for 4 and scoring 2 runs. His defense may have been even better. AMart made clutch play after clutch play at third. His charging throw on a bunt to throw out the Louisville runner was sensational. He made the defensive stops when we had to have them. AMart is now hitting .431. That's a wow. What a player.

And Harrison Ray crushed an 0-1 pitch into the right central field gap in the top of the 8th that plated 2 and put us ahead 4-2. We added 2 more in the ninth via the walk. Louisville Coach Dan McDonnell used 9 different pitchers and made 8 different pitching changes. It was pretty close to ridiculous, but I guess he was trying to win the game. Made for a 3 hour and 40 minute contest. But it worked out for us, so no big deal.

We move to 39-9 overall, we're No.3 in the nation by D1Baseball.com by No.2 by the National College Baseball Writers of America (NCBWA), and No.2 by Collegiate Baseball. We have overtaken UCLA as the No.1 RPI (Ratings Percentage Index, which helps the selection committee seed the teams for NCAA Tournament) in the country. 

We are playing terrific baseball right now. That game had a postseason atmosphere to it, so it was huge to come out victorious.

Next up is No.21 Missouri (33-16-1, 12-11-1) this Friday through Sunday at the Hawk. Friday's game is at 6:30 PM CT, Saturday's game is at 2 PM CT and Sunday's game is at Noon CT. All games will be broadcast by SEC Network+ on the computer. 

So some impressive stuff by our baseball team. We've got a team that can go the distance. We always do, but this team is good enough to win it all if we keep up our work ethic. 

Stack got another commitment this time from Notre Dame transfer D.J. Harvey. The 6'6", 185 pound small forward was a 4 star and the No.1 player out of the state of Maryland in 2017. He has played 2 years for Notre Dame and averaged 10.7 ppg and 4.2 rebounds this past season. At DeMatha High School just outside of DC, D.J. averaged 17.3 ppg, 8.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists. I'm very familiar with DeMatha as I went to high school in the DC area, and they are a powerhouse and have always been and sent players to the high level college ranks and the professional ranks. So another super get for Stack. D.J. will have to sit out the 2019-20 season but will be eligible in 2020-21 with 2 years left. D.J. joins 93 4 star Dylan Disu (6'8", 185), 89 3 star point guard Scotty Pippen Jr,  88, 3 star small forward Kenyon Martin Jr (6'6, 195), and 87, 3 star forward Jordan Wright (6'6", 185). And I'm not sure Stack is done. This is all world recruiting by our coach. Really an amazing effort by Stack and the coaches. The future looks spectacular under Coach Jerry Stackhouse.

The Women's Golf team shot -8 today and lead the Auburn Regional by 3 over Florida State. We are presently at -4 overall. Florida State is -1, and Virginia is next at +4.

Morgan Baxendale shot a 5 under 67 with 6 birdies and 1 bogey. Fantastic play by our sophomore. Freshman Auston Kim continues to excel shooting a 2 under 70. Sophomore Louise Yu shot a 1 under 71 and junior Abbey C Carlson shot an even par 70. Senior Courtney Zeng battled and shot a +4, 76. The tournament takes the top 4 low scores.

So incredible stuff from our women.

The top 6 teams in the region advance to the NCAA Championships which will be played at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Arkansas May 17-22nd, that's a week from Friday when the tournament starts. Gotta finish it out tomorrow, but superb work by our women so far. 
 

Baseball keeps cranking out the victories, Stack doin serious work, Football, Women's golf, women's tennis, men's golf, men's tennis

Our baseball team completed a sweep of South Carolina by taking both games of a doubleheader yesterday at Founders Park in Columbia.

After winning Friday, 22-11, we defeated the Gamecocks 9-3 in the first game and 6-2 in the nightcap yesterday. Both games were 7 innings. We moved to 38-9 overall and 18-6 in the SEC. Arkansas is next at 17-7. We are now ranked 3rd in the country by D1 Baseball and 2nd nationally in the Collegiate Baseball poll. UCLA and Stanford are ahead of us in the D1 poll, while UCLA is ahead of us in the Collegiate Baseball poll by a point. They have 495 points and we have 494. We are also 2nd in the RPI, the Ratings Percentage Index, which measures the top teams the country out of all the teams that play college baseball on the Division 1 level. UCLA is No.1. The RPI is a key factor for selecting the tournament in college baseball and basketball.

There ware a couple of milestones yesterday in the 2nd game, but I’ll discuss the first game first off.

After falling behind 2-0 in the 1st, we came back and took a 3-2 lead in the top of the 3rd on a grounder by Ethan Paul that got past the SC first baseman allowing 2 runs to score. Philip Clarke put us in front with an RBI infield single, a shot up the middle that the second baseman fielded but had no play on.. Austin Martin, who was 3-for-3 in the game, stroked a 2 run single in the top of the 7th and JJ Bleday, who was 2-for-2 in the game, hit a 2 run triple that opened things up for us at 9-3. AMart hit a ground rule double earlier to score Stephen Scott who had singled.

Kumar Rocker pitched a very fine game. Kumar went 5.2, gave up 3 runs, with a walk and 7 strikeouts. He just keeps on putting up great performance after great performance. Tyler Brown closed it out with 1.1 innings of no hit ball walking 2 and striking out 2. Kumar moved to 6-4 with a 4,36 ERA. His ERA keeps coming down. Tyler recorded his 10th save of the season and has an ERA of 2.70. Kumar has walked 14 and struck out 58 in 53.3 innings, while Tyler has walked only 7 and K’d 42 in 30 innings.

In game 2, Patrick Raby became Vanderbilt’s all time career wins leader with his program best 30th victory breaking a record set back in the early 70’s. Rabes was sharp going 5.2, giving up 5 hits, 2 runs, both unearned with 1 walk and 4 K’s. Hugh Fisher came in an got an out in the 6th to close out that inning and Tyler finished it off in the 7th. He didn’t get the save, but as usual, got the job done. Tyler’s extremely valuable.

JJ set the all time single season home run record at VU launching his 23rd of the season breaking a tie with Pedro Alvarez. It was an important home run too as we were only leading 4-2 going into the top of the 7th when JJ blasted his over the right central field wall. Ethan Paul backed JJ up with a homer over the right field wall, Ethan’s 6th of the season.

Defense was solid all weekend. Pat DeMarco made a tremendous catch in the right central field gap on Friday and JJ made a spectacular grab yesterday on a liner that was dropping for at least a single. It was a diving catch to our left hander’s right. JJ is now leading the country in homers. At 23, he’s 2 ahead of Tulane’s Kody Hoese. AMart, hitting .429, is second in the country to New Mexico State’s Nick Gonzales, who is hitting .451. JJ is also 8th nationally in RBIs with 61. Two guys from New Mexico State and a guy from Wake Forest lead at 72. We are 4th in the country in fielding percentage at .981. Xavier is 1st, followed by Omaha and Cal State Fullerton. Xavier has a .983 % so we’re right there.

We are leading the SEC in batting average (.321), State is next at .315, Slugging percentage, On base percentage, Runs scored, hits (531, State next at 530), RBI’s, 379, Arkansas next at 364, triples, 15, Ark at 14, and tied for the league lead with South Carolina at 66 homers. Our team earned run average is 3.93, which is 6th in the conference, A&M leads at 3.09 And we of course lead the conference in fielding percentage. Georgia is next at .980 behind our .981.

So superb stuff coming out of our baseball program. Up next, a major challenge.

We go to 6th ranked Louisville for a 6 PM CT first pitch tomorrow in a game that will be broadcasted by ESPNU. I’m pretty positive Mason Hickman will be on the mound for us. Hick is 6-0 with a 2.05 ERA with 13 walks and 74 strike outs. He’s been terrific this season. He will probably face Louisville freshman right hander Jack Perkins, who has been their midweek guy, and is 5-0 with a 2.70 ERA. Louisville is 39-9 and 18-6 in the ACC, so this is a highly formidable test. We’ll have to be playing our best baseball tomorrow night in order to win the “Battle of the Barrel,” the moniker given to this game. Louisville has won 3 in a row, so it’s time to change that.

Stack keeps’em coming

New men’s basketball coach Jerry Stackhouse has made quite a splash in recruiting. After getting 4 star forward Dylan Disu (6’8”, 190) and high 3 star point guard Scotty Pippen Jr to stick with us, he secured a commitment and a signature from high 3 star guard Jordan Wright and just yesterday got a commit from high 3 star small forward Kenyon Martin Jr.

Disu is from Pflugerville, Texas and averaged 23.4 ppg and 11.1 rebounds as a senior. He’ll be a big help to our inside game as we lost Yanni Wetzell and Simi Shittu. Yanni transferred to San Diego State and Simi is trying out for the NBA draft in June. Not sure that’s the best move for Simi, but so be it. Disu will team up with Clevon Brown, Matthew Moyer and Ejike Obinna for out frontcourt. Dylan is ranked 112th in the 247 player rankings. Out of 247 players.

Martin, Jr. averaged 16.4 ppg and 9 boards as a senior. He is out of Sierra Canyon, California high school, which just won its second consecutive state championship. Martin is 6’6” 195 and is the son of former University of Cincinnati and NBA star Kenyon Martin. The elder Martin was a beast on the floor and on the glass. Martin Jr., according to his coach, has that same type of energy and athletic ability.

Wright, a 3 star guard out of Baton Rouge, is 6’6”, 200, and averaged 19.1 points, 8 boards and 6 assists at the Dunham School. He looks like a great addition along with Pippen Jr to our backcourt with the great Saben Lee, the terrific Aaron Nesmith, and the improving Maxwell Evans. Pippen Jr and Martin Jr were teammates at Sierra Canyon. Pippen, a 6’0”, 160 pound point guard, he’ll add muscle at VU, averaged 15 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.1 steals. Really like the NBA genes for Pippen Jr and Martin Jr. Both fathers were phenomenal players.

So amazing work by Stack and his staff. D.J. Harvey, a 6’6”, wing player who transferred out of Notre Dame recently, was a 4 star in high school, and averaged 10.7 ppg and 4.2 rbg at Notre Dame last season, and was on campus yesterday and was having a blast according to reports. Could be a transfer to look for. D.J. would have to sit out a year, but would be another super get for Stack and the staff..

There are some other ‘19 prospects and 2020 recruiting is in full swing as well. Really liking these early results from our new coach.

Some stellar running backs looking at VU

I usually don’t like talking about players who are “interested” in Vanderbilt, but these 3 running backs are so impressive, I have to mention them.

Tajh Brooks is a 5’11”, 198 pound running back out of Manor, Texas. A solid 3 star, this kid is awesome. Watched his tape and it was superb. Tajh is fast, tough, just takes it to the house with any hole and outruns any pursuer on a very consistent basis. Love this player. He’s No.1 on our running back recruiting board for 2020 and I can see why. He’s a Tulsa commit but hoping Coach Mason and the staff can convince Tajh to come our way. The other 2 backs are 5.7, 3 star Elijah Green, a a 5’11”, 190 back out of Blessed Trinity High School in Roswell, Georgia. Impressive film as well. The third is Ahman Marshall, a 6’1”, 200 pound solid 3 star. Great size, fast and physical. All 3 would work. Two of them would be spectacular.

Women’s Golf

Our No.6 ranked women’s golf team leads the Auburn Regional at -1 after day one of the tournament, which has 2 more days left of 18 holes each day. There are 18 teams in the regional and the top 6 finishers qualify for the NCAA Championships at Blessings Golf Course in Fayettville, Ark. May 17th-22nd. No.3 Duke is second at +2, while No.11 Florida State and East Carolina are tied for 3rd at +3. Freshman superstar Auston Kim shot a 2 under 70, while senior Courtney Zang shot a 1 under par 71. Junior Abbey Carloson and sophomore Louise Yu each shot 73.So awesome first day. Need to keep it cookin tomorrow.

Also some super news, Auston KIm qualified for the 74th U.S. Women’s Open which will be played May 29th-June 2nd in Charleston South Carolina. Auston did it pretty dramatically, birdieing her 34th and 35th holes out of 36 to force a 2 person playoff which she won with 2 pars. That’s some super exciting stuff coming from Auston. Excited to see Auston at the Open. But first things first. Let’s win at Auburn and take it from there. Just gotta keep up the solid work tomorrow.

Women’s Tennis

Our No.8 Women’s tennis team advanced to the Sweet 16 with 2 victories over the weekend at the Currey Tennis Center on the West End with consecutive 4-0 victories over Miaimi of Ohio and Georgia Tech. We now face No. 18 Texas A&M this Saturday at 1 PM at the Currey Center. It’ll be good to be playing at home as the women aim for yet another trip to the NCAA Championships, May 16th-19th in Orlando. Senior Fernanda Contreras, junior Christina Rosca, freshman Georgia Drummy and the rest of our women’s team are doing exceptional stuff once again under our great coach, Geoff McDonald. Excited for what’s ahead. Big test Saturday as A&M upset No.9 Texas at Texas yesterday, 4-1. They’re a solid team. We lost to them March 15th in College Station, 4-2, so we’ve got our work cut out for us.

Astra Sharma is now ranked No.98 in the WTA rankings, the world rankings for women’s professional tennis. She reached the finals of a tournament in Bogota, Columbia where she lost in a close one in 3 sets. Astra has qualified for the French Open and Wimbledon. The French Open at Roland Garros will commence Sunday May 26th and go through Sunday June 9th, with the women’s final Saturday, June 8th, and the men’s final Sunday, June 9th. So it would be phenomenal to see Astra competing both at Roland Garros and at Wimbledon. The Championships at Wimbledon will be played Monday July 1st through Sunday, July 14th. As Geoff said, it’s a tremendous accomplishment for someone in their first year out of college to be playing in the first 3 Slams of the year as Astra competed in and won at match at the Australian Open. Will keep you posted on Astra’s progress.

Men’s Golf in action next Monday

Men’s Golf begins play at the Athens (GA) Regional next Monday, May 13th. We are the No.1 seed in the regional and need to get in the top 5 of the 13 team regional to qualify for the NCAA Tournament which will also be played at the Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville from May 24th-29th.

Senior Patrick Martin was a captain’s pick for the Palmer Cup team. The Palmer Cup is an annual amateur Ryder Cup-style competition against the best amateur players from Europe. It will be played June 7th-9th at the Alotian Club in Little Rock, Arkansas. Great honor for Patrick, who’s had a stellar career at VU, one that I hope continues on until the end of May. Like our team. Just got to get off to a good start next Monday.

Men’s Tennis

The Men’s tennis team lost to No.1 Ohio State, 4-0 on Saturday. We get some guys back for next year and had a solid season this year with a victory in the NCAA Tournament.


Wednesday

I’ll have Louisville recap, where our women’s golf team is standing at the Auburn Regional and our MLB guys. Several of our former players are excelling once again in the big leagues.

No.4 Dores in Columbia to face South Carolina

Our Vanderbilt Commodores had another huge night at the plate Tuesday Night, pounding out 21 hits, scoring 21 runs hitting 4 homers in a 21-10 victory over Tennessee Tech Tuesday Night at the Hawk. Freshman center fielder Isaiah Thomas had a huge night at the plate with 2 homers, 5 Ribeyes and 4 hits in 5 plate appearances. Those were his second and third homers of the season. Our stellar freshman is getting playing due to injuries by Cooper Davis and last week to Stephen Scott. Their status is unknown as Tim Corbin doesn’t disclose injury information. But Isaiah is getting his shot and making the most of it.

The awesome Austin Martin hit a 3 run shot, his 5th of the season and now has 26 Ribbies and is hitting a spectacular .413. Ty Duvall cranked a 2 run shot, his 3rd of the season. Ty is a super backup to Philip Clarke behind the plate. He’s a highly valuable player for us. Mason Hickman went 4 as he had pitched last Thursday in relief of Drake Fellows, and gave up 4 hits, 1 run, with 0 walks and 7 K’s. Mason just keeps producing. He’ll be a crucial piece to us in May. We face No. 6 Louisville next Tuesday, at 6 PM CT on ESPNU, so we’ll need Mason to keep up his stellar work.

But we’ve got a series with South Carolina to tend to first. Tonight’s game is a 6 on SEC Network+ with Drake Fellows (9-0, 3.67) squaring off with Gamecocks right hander Daniel Lloyd (3-3, 7.43) Tomorrow’s game takes place at 7 PM CT and will be broadcast by ESPNU. Kumar is on the hill for us (5-4, 4.31) and he’ll face Carolina righty Reid Morgan (3-4, 3.63) Sunday’s game is at 12:30 PM CT on SEC Network+ with Rabes going for us (7-1, 2.77) and South Carolina’s starter to be determined.

So big weekend for us. We are now 35-9 and 15-6 in the SEC and we are tied with Arkansas for the SEC lead. South Carolina is 24-20 and 5-16 in the SEC, but we HAVE to be ready to play. There are no gimmes in the SEC.

Will have more on our team tomorrow along with our Major Leaguers, our men’s tennis team defeated Penn State today, 4-3 at the Ohio State Regional in the NCAA’s Great job men. Our women’s team is playing Miami of Ohio now. Women’s golf starts play this Monday in the Auburn Regional, and our Men’s Golf team is the No.1 seed in the Athens Regional and begin play Monday, May 13th.

Will have more tomorrow.

Kentucky Derby prediction

The awesome Run for the Roses, the fastest 2 minutes in sports, commences tomorrow with post time at 5:50 PM CT with NBC telecasting.

Here are the latest odds on the horses with post positions.

2. War of Will, 18-1. Post positions changed with favorite Omaha Beach and and Haikal scratched.

3. Tax, 42-1

4. By My Standards, 14-1

5. Gray Magician, 31-1

6. Improbable, 9-2

7. Vekoma, 25-1

8. Maximum Security 5-1

9. Tacitus, 9-2

10. Plus Que Perfect, 49-1

11. Cutting Humor, Mike Smith now riding, multiple triple crown racing winner. Won Triple Crown with Justify last year. 25-1

12. Code of Honor, 11-1

13.Win Win Win, 15-1

14. Master Fencer, 55-1

15. Game Winner, 6-1

16. Roadster, 9-1

17. Long Range Toddy, 45-1

18. Spinoff, 59-1

19. Country House, 71-1

20. Bodexpress, 99-1


Prediction

I felt really good about Omaha Beach this week and was going to pick him, but when he had to drop out, another opportunity. was presented That’s what makes this so electric, the unpredictability of it and the excitement it creates.

The horse I’m predicting has seen his odds drop from 5-1 this morning to 9-1 this afternoon. But I watched him win the Santa Anita Derby coming from behind and using incredible closing speed to capture that race on April 6th on a 1 1/8 track. I like him on this 1 1/4 Churchill Downs track as well which will be muddy from rain in Louisville tomorrow.

Justify won the Santa Anita Derby last year and I’d say he had some success after that to the tune of a Triple Crown. This is a Bob Baffert horse. Baffert trained Justify and American Pharoah, triple crown winners in 2018 and 2015. Thirty two year old Frenchman Florent Geroux will be on the mount.I think he knows what he’s doing after watching Santa Anita.

I watched this horse run six furlongs last Friday at Churchill Downs in a warmup and loved his speed. I love the look of this horse too. A ton of power in the body and especially in his legs. He’s in post 16 which has won the Derby 4 times out of 47 horses that have run out of this position, with the last winner being Animal Kingdom in 2011. I’m just going to go with this horse. I love his look and when Bama Golf and I went out to the Birmingham Race Course a pretty good while ago, we watched the horses in the paddock and loved the look of a thoroughbred named Full Focus. We picked him and he was a winner. I feel the same way about this thoroughbred. I’m going to take a road trip tomorrow afternoon with:

Roadster

I’m riding this stud, Roadster, in the Kentucky Derby

I’m riding this stud, Roadster, in the Kentucky Derby



Wells Fargo Championship

With 2 weeks to go before the second major of the season, which is pretty fantastic that there are 2 majors this close together, the 101st PGA Championship at Bethpage Black on Long Island, NY, the tour heads to Charlotte and Quail Hollow Club for the Wells Fargo Championship.

The defending champion is Jason Day who shot 69,67,67, 69 for a -12 finish and a 2 shot victory over Nick Watney and Aaron Wise last year. Day was slugging along at even par on the first 15 holes and Wise caught him at -10. But Day birdied 16 and 17 and hung on for the victory. the 12th of his career. That victory last May has been his most recent win.

Quail Hollow is a 7,554 yard, par 71 layout. Holes 16, 17 and 18, the Green Mile, though technically it’s only 3/4 of a mile, is the toughest 3 hole stretch in golf since 2007, with players averaging almost a stroke over par on those holes. The scoring average is 0.884. No.’s 8,9, 10 on Pebble Beach are next at 0.684. PGA National’s, 15,16 and 17, the Bear Trap, is next at 0.671. Muirfield Village, where the Memorial is played, is next at 0.633 with holes 16, 17 and 18. Fifth hardest is Torrey Pines South, holes 16,17 and 18 with an 0.619 scoring average.


Rory McIlroy won at Quail Hollow in 2010 as a 20 year old, 2 days before his 21st birthday (May 4th). He shot 62 on the final day for his 1st PGA Tour victory. He also won here in 2015 with a 3rd round 61. He has won 15 times on tour now, and has 4 majors on his resume, the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, SC, the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool in England, and the 2014 PGA at Valhalla in Louisville. But it’s been a while since he’s won a major. Still can’t get over the hump at Augusta National and complete the career Grand Slam. But he’s playing well now and will be a factor this weekend and in 2 weeks at Bethpage Black. Rory will be 30 on Sunday.

Tiger Woods had originally committed to play in this event, but bowed out after winning the Masters. I see 2 sides to this. He’s 43, his back has had all kinds of surgeries and problems, he’s still enjoying his victory at the Masters, his 15th major championship and 81st PGA career win, so I got all that. But I do like when players play at least 2 weeks in advance of a major. A lengthy layoff from competition can lead to rust, so I’m not sure if he’ll be super sharp at Bethpage. But the way he played at Augusta, you gotta have him in your top 5 favorites at the PGA. Geoff Shackelford and Matt Adams discussed it on the Alternate Shot segment of Golf Central last night, and both thought it’s no problem for Eldrick. I’m not going to say it’s no problem, but he is on fire. Still would like to see a player play in this event, a key event on tour, to prepare for the PGA. But I do understand why he’s skipping it. I see him in the hunt at the PGA at the end and possibly winning it. I’ll let you know what I really think 2 weeks from today.

Rickie, Fowler, the 2012 Wells Fargo champion, where he defeated Rory and D.A, Points on the first playoff hole with a birdie on 18, is in the field. Fowler, now 30, has been somewhat of an underachiever on tour. He has only won 5 times, and doesn’t have a major championship on his resume, so he needs to be able to close at least one deal in a major. He gets close a lot, but can’t seem to finish the job.

Phil Mickelson, world No.2 Justin Rose (Dustin is No.1), Sergio (cry me a river) Garcia, and Patrick Reed are also in the field. 2014 winner J.B. Holmes, who won at Riviera in February at the Genesis Open, is also in the field. So a good group competing for this championship.

No.18 is a beast. A 494 yard, par 4 with a creek running down the entire left side and a bunker 280 on the right that requires 302 to clear. Paul Casey was telling the Golf Channel that he aims for the grandstands behind the green in the right central part of the hole. A player can either take it at the creek and cut it or aim at the bunker and draw it, or look at the grandstand like Casey does and crank it. The second shot challenges the competitors with the creek running on the left side of the green, and a massive green itself. A lot of dramatic shots have happened on this hole. Justin Thomas won the 2017 PGA here. He’s injured right now with a sore wrist. He plans to play at the PGA in 2 weeks, but his status is uncertain at this time.

Winner

I’m going to take the 33 year old from Raleigh, North Carolina who now lives on the Quail Hollow course. He’s won 5 times on tour including the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic Club in San Francisco and the 2018 Players Championship. This is his home course and while he finished tied for 21st here last year, I like him to use the home field to his advantage.

Webb Simpson

Taking Simpson at Quail Hollow (Photo, Spokesman-Review).

Taking Simpson at Quail Hollow (Photo, Spokesman-Review).


Sleeper

Harold Varner III

Baseball keeps cookin, MLB guys, Stack gets '19 commit, our now NFL guys, Men's golf prepares for the NCAA's, women's, men's tennis

The now No.4 Vanderbilt Baseball team (D1Baseball.com rankings) just swept the Auburn Tigers with some more stellar hitting and excellent starting pitching in a 9-5 victory before 3,625 fans at Hawkins Field on Saturday.

We moved to 34-9 overall and 15-6 in the SEC and are tied with Arkansas for the co-lead in the conference. If we ended up tied with the Razorbacks in the standings, we would win the tiebreaker by virtue of our head to head matchup in which we won 2 of 3. Georgia, Mississippi State and Ole Miss are each at 13-8. Texas A&M is next at 11-9-1. In the national rankings, UCLA is ranked No.1 (34-7), Stanford is No.2 (31-7), Oregon State is No.3 (31-10-1) Arkansas is No.5 (34-11), Mississippi State is No.6 (36-9)and Georgia is No.9 (33-12).

We pounded out 15 hits against Tigers pitching on Saturday. The sensational JJ Bleday connected on his 21st homer of the season. A two run shot over the right central field wall to score Austin Martin, who reached after being hit by a pitch. JJ is once again tied Kody Hoese of Tulane for the national lead with those 21 homers. Pat DeMarco was 4 for 5 with an RBI and his average keeps climbing. It is now at .276. It was .230 about 2 weeks ago, so Pat, after his hamstring injury that kept him sidelined for a month, is back to being the awesome Pat DeMarco. Harrison Ray was 3 for 4 with an RBI and a triple. He also made a terrific head first slide at home to beat a throw to the plate on a sac fly by Julian Infante. Ethan Paul, Philip Clarke, and Ty Duvall each collected 2 hits on the afternoon. It was an awesome performance by the bats once again. We are now batting .317 as a team. Austin is hitting .405 with 11 doubles, 4 triples and 6 stolen bases, Ethan is hitting .353 with 15 doubles, 5 homers and 49 Ribeyes, JJ is hitting .343 with 21 homers and 56 Ribbies, Philip is hitting .325 with 11 doubles, 2 triples, 6 homers and 48 RBIs, Stephen Scott, who got injured Friday Night sliding into the left field wall trying to catch a fly ball in foul territory and missed Saturday’s game, is hitting .323 with a team leading 15 doubles, 6 homers and 34 RBIs. Harrison Ray is batting .286 after his big day on Saturday, and has 6 doubles, 2 triples and is 13 of 16 in stolen bases. We stole 3 bases Saturday with DeMarco getting 2, his 3rd and 4th on the season. Ethan Paul stole his 6th base of the year. We did some more running on Saturday. This program has a tradition for stealing bases, and we’ve looked more aggressive on the base paths lately. We made a couple of running miscues this past weekend we’ll need to make sure we don’t let happen again. We are 45-of-61, 74%, in stolen bases. Our opponents are 27-of-40, 68%, so that’s a weapon to our advantage.

Patrick Raby put together another terrific start on Saturday, with our third stellar start in a row against Auburn. Rabes went 6.1 innings, gave up 5 hits, 1 run with 4 walks and 8 K’s. The home plate umpire had a pretty tight strike zone, so some of those walks came on very close pitches. Jake Eder came in and got hit around some, but Ethan Smith came in for the 9th and closed it out. Rabes moved to 7-1 on the season with a 2.77 ERA. Mason Hickman who came in relief of Drake Fellows on Thursday Night and pitched 4 solid innings, is 5-0 with a 2.04 ERA. Mason has been primarily our midweek guy. He’ll probably get the call tomorrow night against Tennessee Tech with first pitch at 6:30 at the Hawk with SEC Network+ broadcasting. Drake has been superb going a nation leading 9-0 with a 3.67 ERA. He had to battle Thursday Night through some incredibly challenging weather conditions, it was pouring and hard to grip the ball, but he recorded another victory to his and his team’s resume. Kumar Rocker was sensational again and is now 5-4 with a 4.31 ERA. But he has walked only 13 and struck out 51. His last 4 starts have been spectacular. He has lived up to his billing as one of the top recruits in the country in 2018. Our bullpen, besides Tyler Brown, Ethan Smith and most of the time Hugh Fisher, has struggled. We need to keep solidifying that group so we can be really a strong team heading into May. Great stuff from this baseball team though. Defense is very solid fielding at a .982 clip, 2nd in the conference and top 5 in the country. Our opponents are fielding at a .970 percentage.

We play @ South Carolina this weekend with Friday’s game at 6 PM CT on SEC Network+, Saturday’s game at 7 PM CT on ESPNU, and Sunday’s game at 12:30 PM CT on SEC Network+.

MLB guys

Dansby Swanson

Dans is hitting .250 for the Braves with 5 homers, 22 Ribbies, 5 doubles and 2 triples. He’s also stolen 2 out of 3 bases. Would like to see Dans get on board and run some more because he’s so fast. He was 1 for 3 yesterday with an RBI double in the Braves 8-7 victory over the Colorado Rockies at Sun Trust Stadium in Atlanta. The Braves are now 13-14 and 2 1/2 games back of the Phillies in the NL East. The Phils are 16-12. The Mets are 2nd at 14-13 and the Braves are 3rd. The Braves have been playing pretty well this season, just need some more consistency with the pitching. Bats are excellent. The Braves play the resurgent San Diego Padres in a 4 game series starting tonight at home. First pitches for tonight through Wednesday’s games are at 6:20 CT. Thursday’s game is at 11:10 AM CT. Then the Braves will head to Miami to play the Marlins over the weekend.

Bryan Reynolds

Bryan has gotten off to a blazing start for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The 24 year old rookie is hitting .429 with 9 hits in 21 plate appearances. Bryan has collected 4 doubles. He got a hit as a pinch hitter yesterday in a 7-6 loss to the Dodgers. Bryan is playing center for the Pirates. The Bucs are 12-14 and 4 1/2 games back of the NL Central leading St. Louis Cardinals, which are 17-10.

Tony Kemp

Tony has gotten off to a slow start this season for the Astros hitting only .184 but had a homer and a triple in the past week. He’s playing exceptional defense in left field as always. Would like to see Tony get that bat going because he is certainly capable of putting up stellar hitting numbers and he always plays outstanding defense and can steal bases with his gazelle like speed. The Astros are tough once again at 17-11 and leading the AL West by a 1/2 game over the Seattle Mariners, which are 18-13.

Curt Casali

Curt is hitting .306 with 0 homers and 5 RBIs for the Cincinnati Reds. Curt had a big game Friday Night versus the Cardinals in a 12-1 Reds’ victory. He was 3 for 5 with a double and 4 Ribeyes. He’s been doing an awesome job backing up the Reds starting catcher, Tucker Barnhart. The Reds are struggling a little at 11-18, but only 6 back of the Cards and have played some good baseball at times this season.

Sonny Gray

Sonny, of the Reds, lost a tough one to St. Louis yesterday, 5-2. Sonny pitched 5, gave up 3 hits, 2 earned runs, with a pair of walks and 5 K’s. He’s pitched well this season, but has no victories to show for it. Sonny is 0-4 with a 3.64 ERA and an 0.98 WHIP (walks +hits per inning pitched). The ERA is good and the WHIP is excellent. Anything under 1.10 is very good. Anything under 1.00 is terrific. If Sonny keeps pitching like this, good things are going to happen for him and his club.

Mike Minor

Mike, who has been awesome this season, was once again awesome Saturday Night going 7, giving up only 3 hits, 1 earned, a homer, with a walk and 13 K’s. Mike threw 111 pitches with 76 for strikes against 35 balls a better than 2:1 strike to ball ratio which is the baseline ratio of what you need to be successful. Mike is now 3-2 with a 2.88 ERA, an 0.91 WHIP and a .179 batters average against him, which is sensational. He has walked 12 and struck out 39. Mike has been phenomenal this season. The Rangers are playing solid baseball at 14-13 and only 2 1/2 back of the Astros in the AL West.

David Price

David took a hard luck loss Saturday, 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Rays. Dave went 6, gave up 4 hits, 2 earned, with 3 walks and 7 K’s. He gave up one homer to Tommy Pham of the Rays. David has pitched well. In 5 starts, his record is only 1-2, but his ERA is 3.60 and his WHIP is 1.07. Opponents batting average is .220 against him which is excellent. He has walked 8 and struck out 37. The Sox have dug themselves a hole. They lost 2 of 3 to the Rays at Fenway over the weekend to drop to 11-17 on the season. They’ve had some injuries to key players, but they need to get it together right now. They are 7 1/2 back of the Rays in the AL East. The amazing Rays are 18-9 and lead the surging Yankees (17-11) by a game and a half.

Walker Buehler

Walker has struggled some this season for the Dodgers though the team is doing well. Walk is 2-0, which is good, but has a 5,25 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP, Opponents are hitting .230 against him which is solid. He’s walked 8 and K’d 18. I think Walker is still dealing with an injury he sustained in spring training. Not the Walker Buehler we’re used to yet, but I’m sure he’ll get it crankin soon. Walker pitches tomorrow night @ the Giants. The Dodgers are 19-11 and lead the San Diego Padres by 2 games in the NL West..

Drew VerHagen

Drew is hanging tough with the Detroit Tigers as he is 1-0 with a 7.71 ERA. He has 7 walks and 7 K’s,. Needs to pick it up a little bit to play a more important role in the Tigers’ prospects this season. The Tigers are playing decent baseball at 12-14 and 4 1/2 games back of the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central. The Tigers are in 3rd. The Cleveland Indians are 2 back and in 2nd place at 15-12.

Stack lands commit for 2019

Vanderbilt Basketball Coach Jerry Stackhouse landed a third player to this 2019 class as 6’6”, 200 pound 87, 3 star small forward Jordan Wright committed to VU on Friday. Jordan is from Baton Rouge, LA, and chose us over offers from Georgia Tech, Houston, Texas A&M, TCU, Virginia Tech and Minnesota among others. Jordan was an all state and all metro selection by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association and helped his school Dunham win the Division III championship in 2018.

This season, he averaged 19.1 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists and was named first team All State in Louisiana by USA Today. According to the Baton Rouge Advocate in his senior season, Jordan scored a 30 on his ACT.

Jordan is the third pledge to the class joining 93 4 star power forward Dylan Disu (6’8”, 210) and 87 3 star point guard Scotty Pippen Jr., a 6’1” point guard. Both Disu and Pippen Jr have signed. Expecting Wright’s signature soon.

Stack may not be through with this class. There could be another commit-signee from high school and a transfer. We lost 4 star small forward Austin Crowley when Bryce Drew was fired and Yanni Wetzell and Matt Ryan appear to be transferring and Darius Garland and Simi Shittu going pro, but we have a pretty solid nucleus assembled for next season. With these 3 additions and maybe 1 or 2 more to go along with Saben Lee, Ejike Obinna, who is 6’10” and coming off a redshirt season, Aaron Nesmith, our great shooting guard, Maxwell Evans, who has good talent, 6’ 9” Clevon Brown and 6’9” power forward Matthew Moyer, we’ve got potential. Another player or 2 would help. Good stuff from Stack and the program. Will keep you posted.

New NFL guys from our program

As reported earlier, Joejuan Williams was selected in the second round by the New England Patriots joining established Patriots defensive tackle Adam Butler from VU. Justin Skule was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 6th round. He’ll join Jordan Matthews in the Bay Area. JMatt signed a deal with the 49ers in the offseason. Kyle Shurmur signed as a free agent by the Kanas City Chiefs. Maybe Kyle can develop out there and if Patrick Mahomes has any injury issues, Kyle can get a shot. Running back Khari Blassingame signed as a free agent with the Minnesota Vikings joining Vanderbilt standout and Vikings starting defensive end Stephen Weatherly in MInnesota. Center Bruno Reagan will join Kyle in Kansas City as a free agent. Defensive end Dare Odeyingbo signed as a free agent deal with the Tampa Bay Bucs. Josh Smith, an excellent linebacker for us, signed with the Green Bay Packers where he will join Oren Burks, who is trying to make his way in Green Bay. Louis Vecchio, who had a very solid year for us as a graduate transfer from Penn, signed a free agent deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. Didn’t see anything on Jordan Griffin, which was surprising. Hoping Jordan can get picked up as well. He was a tackling machine for us last year and a total leader on his team.

Men’s Golf

The Men’s Golf team fell heartbreakingly to Arkansas in the quarterfinals of the SEC Championships on Saturday. We lost the Match Play match 3-2 to the Razorbacks. We had a 2-1 lead with 2 matches left, but Reid Davenport and Harrison Ott were defeated in 19 holes. Tough one. But we’re in the NCAA field which will be announced this Wednesday at 8 PM CT on Golf Channel’s Golf Central program. Play will begin on Monday, May 13th. Will let you know where we go. There are 81 teams and 45 individuals that will be selected to the 6 regional sites. The 45 individual players are from teams that don’t qualify for the NCAA’s. Thirteen teams and 10 individuals will qualify at 3 sites and 14 teams and 5 individuals will qualify at the other 3 sites. The host sites are Palouse Ridge Golf Club in Pullman, Washington, Stanford Golf Course at Stanford, CA., TPC Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, University of Louisville Golf Club in Kentucky, University of Georgia Golf Course in Athens and University of Texas Golf Club in Austin. The top 5 teams for each regional advance to the NCAA Championships at Blessings Golf Course in Fayetteville, Arkansas, May 24th-29th.

Disappointing finish for our team, but Arkansas did win it all, so we gave them everything they wanted and it was probably a good learning experience for our team heading into the NCAA’s. Will let you know on where we go after it’s announced Wednesday.

Women’s, Men’s Tennis

The Men’s and Women’s Tennis selection show is today at 5 and 5:30 PM CT. The Men’s Field will be announced at 5 PM CT and the Women will be announced at 5:30 PM CT.

The Women finished the season at 16-7 overall and 10-3 in the SEC’s falling to South Carolina in the semifinals of the SEC Championships after winning their quarterfinal match over Kentucky. But the women had a super year and Fernanda Contreras and Christina Rosca were named first team All SEC and freshman Georgia Drummy was named second team All SEC and named to the all Freshman team. We’ve got a great team and have a shot to go plenty of distance in the NCAA’s which we always do under Geoff McDonald. We are presently ranked 7th in the country..

The Men finished the season 34th in the country and Cameron Klinger was selected 2nd team All SEC. Cameron is ranked 87th in the country. We finished the season 15-11 and 4-8 in the SEC and lost to Kentucky in the second round of the SEC Tournament after winning in the opening round over Kentucky, 4-1.

So exciting stuff for both teams. Will let you know where our teams are headed. The women will most likely be hosting, while the men will probably have to travel.

Women’s Golf

Our No.7 Women’s Golf team has been selected to play in the Auburn Regional. There are 18 teams in 4 regional sites. The top 6 teams from each regional advance to the NCAA Championships at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Auburn regional will commence next Monday, May 6th and continue through Thursday, May 9th. The NCAA Championships will take place May 17th-22nd. Abby Carlson is ranked 2lst in the country and Austin Kim is 27th. In our regional, No.2 Duke is competing, No.9 Florida State, No.13 Auburn, No. 17 Virginia No. 26 Furman, No. 29 Clemson and No. 36 Alabama amongst the 18 team field.

Kumar terrific Friday Night to lead No.5 Dores, Men's Golf in quarters at SEC Championshop

Kumar Rocker was sensational last night in leading the No.5 Commodores to a 5-2 victory over Auburn in game 2 of the series before 3,534 fans at Hawkins Field.

Our hard throwing freshman right hander went 7, gave up 6 hits, 2 runs, with 1 walk and 10 ringups.
Kumar was dominating only allowing a run in the 4th and a run in the 5th. His fastball was hitting 91-93 and he had complete command of it and his breaking ball and change up were un-hittable. Kumar moved to 5-4 with a 4.09 ERA. He has been lights out the last 4 games he's pitched and is showing why he was such a highly coveted recruit that Corbs somehow lured from the MLB draft. His father and mother were in attendance cheering him on. Kumar's dad, Tracy, was the great defensive tackle for Auburn in the late 80's and is a stellar veteran assistant football coach now at Tennessee, unfortunately.
 
Stephen Scott gave us the bulk of our runs with a 3 run shot in the first inning over the right central field wall. That was Stephen's 6th homer of the season, and his 32nd, 33rd and 34th Ribeyes.

Ethan Paul and Harrison Ray also added RBI'S.

Austin Martin was 3 for 5 and is now hitting .416. That's a wow and is leading the SEC. A Mar is on fire. Philip Clarke was 3 for 4 with 2 doubles and raised his average to .323. Philip has been spectacular at the plate and behind the dish. Ty Duvall was also 2 for 4.

Hugh Fisher pitched the 8th and the 9th and got into a couple of bases loaded jams in both innings, but pitched out of them to record his 3rd save of the season. Hugh has a 2.16 ERA.

The Commodores moved to 33-9 and 14-6 in SEC play and now lead the SEC standings overall. No.4 Georgia lost to No.8 Mississippi State at State last night, 19-3, to fall to 13-6 in conference play. No.9 Arkansas is leading the west at 13-6.

So big game 3 today at 1 PM on SEC Network+. Patrick Raby takes the hill for us. Rabes is 6-1 with a 2.94 ERA and pitched well last Sunday at Alabama. Rabes will face Auburn lefty Brooks Fuller, who is 2-1 with a 3.78 ERA. Would be huge to get a sweep over a pretty good Tigers team.

Men's Golf at the SEC's

The Men's Golf    
team finished 2nd to Auburn at the SEC Championship stroke play yesterday to qualify for the 8 team match play today.

Auburn shot -24 and we finished -8 in a tough day for scoring with a lot of wind and difficult pin placements.

We just started teeing off against Arkansas in the quarters. The quarterfinals and semifinals are today and the finals are tomorrow at Sea Island, GA. with the SEC Network televising the finals tomorrow at 6:30 AM CT. Need a big performance from Will Gordon, Patrick Martin, Johnny "Clutch" Augenstein , Harrison Ott and Reid Davenport. We've got an awesome team. As Coach Scott Limbaugh said yesterday, we hope to get a lot of fans out to the Seaside Course supporting our team. Huge day for golf. Will keep you posted today on both teams.

Joejuan Williams

Our superb cornerback was selected by the New England Patriots in the 2nd round as the 45th pick. Huge stuff for the man. Adam Butler is already a key member of the Pats. Bill Belichick likes Vanderbilt football players. Can’t wait to see Joejuan and Adam compete next year for the 6 time Super Bowl champs.

Kyle Shurmur, Justin Skule, Bruno Reagan, Jordan Griffin, LaDarius Wiley, Josh Smith and Dare Odeyingbo still on the board. Hope all of them get drafted, but if not, get signed as free agents and have a chance to make their respective teams. Will keep you posted on all our guys’ prospects.

Dores pound out 13 hits, 12 runs in victory over Auburn, Scotty Pippen Jr. Men's Golf

Austin Martin was 3 for 4 with 3 Ribeyes, 2 stolen bases and 2 runs scored to lead the No.5 Commodores to a 12-6 victory over No. 25 Auburn last night at Hawkins Field.

The great Austin is now hitting .409 on the season and leading the SEC in hitting. Ethan Paul, Philip Clarke, Stephen Scott and Pat DeMarco each had 2 hits. Scott belted his 5th homer of the season and 22nd in his career over the right central field wall in the 2nd inning part of a 3 run 2nd. The Dores scored 4 times in the 3rd, 4 times in the 6th and added a run in the 7th. Julian Infante had a 2 run single and Paul, Clarke, Harrison Ray, Scott and DeMarco each had an RBI.

Drake Fellows started and performed pretty well in challenging pitching conditions with a hard rain going on in the first 3 innings of his start. It was tough to grip the ball. Auburn starter Tanner Burns had trouble as well and there were wild pitches and hit batters. There was a stoppage of play in the 3rd due to the weather. But Drake hung tough like he always does and got through 5, giving up 6 hits, 4 earned with 1 walk and 4 K’s. Mason Hickman, who has been sensational in mid week games this season, pitched the final 4 frames, giving up 4 hits, 2 earned with 2 walks and 8 K’s. Both Drake and Mason are strike throwers. That is such an asset in pitching. The fielders know to be alert because the pitcher is always going to be around the plate. Drake moved to a nation leading 9-0 and has a 3.67 ERA. Mason picked up his 3rd save and is now 5-0 with 3 saves and a sparkling 2.04 ERA.

We moved to 32-9 overall and 13-6 in the SEC. We are now tied with Georgia for the SEC East lead and both us and Georgia lead the conference overall with our 13-6 records. Arkansas leads the west at 12-6 . No.4 Georgia plays at No.9 Mississippi State this weekend and No.8 Arkansas hosts No. 20 Tennessee for a weekend set with both series starting tonight.

We face Auburn again tonight at 7 on the SEC Network. Freshman Kumar Rocker (4-4, 4.61 ERA) gets the call for us and Kumar will square off with Auburn righty Richard Fitts (3-2, 4.55 ERA).

Great stuff happening with the team. Need to keep it cookin.

Scotty Pippen Jr.

SP2 has now signed with Stack and Vanderbilt. That gives us 2 signees for this 2019 class along with 6’8” 4 star power forward Dylan Disu. SP2 is a high 3 star point guard with a ton of skill. He could step in right away next season and allow Saben to move over to the 2 which would be huge for us as Saban could dominate at the 2 spot. We are going to lose Simi Shittu to the draft and Matt Ryan and Yanni Wetzell are most likely transferring, but Coach Stackhouse is still out recruiting hard for players in this 2019 class and for 2020. There are some quality guys left and Stack and assistant David Grace are working hard to secure another player or 2 for this class and for players in 2020. Like what Stack is doing. He’s an awesome guy, and with his credentials, he can land some big names. Next year will be interesting. We won’t have a ton of depth underneath, but we’ll have enough, and a good backcourt, so we can be very competitive and have a shot at the tournament. And I like the way Stack is shaping this program up for the future. SP2 is a 6’1”, 165 point guard. He needs to put on some more size, but he is highly skilled and can give us supreme quickness with Saben in the backcourt. He is also Scottie Pippen’s son so those genes are spectacular.

Men’s Golf 2nd at SEC Championship

Our golf team is 2nd at the SEC Championship at Sea Island, GA. We are at -8 and Auburn leads at -22. Auburn is going off. The top 8 teams after today’s 3rd round of stroke play will square off in the match play starting tomorrow. Hoping we can finish strong and solidify 2nd and gear up for tomorrow. Georgia is 3rd at -5 and the next team is Tennessee at +1, so if we can play a steady round and maybe get it explosive on the remainder of the holes we can have a lot of momentum heading into tomorrow’s first round of match play. We are on holes 6-8 as is Auburn.

Raby, Bleday lead team in sweep of Alabama

Patrick Raby was electric yesterday at Sewell Thomas Stadium in Tuscaloosa and JJ Bleday just keeps hitting bombs and playing like the best player in the country.

The No.5 Commodores rode those 2 studs along with some other contributors to a 2-0 victory over the Crimson Tide and a sweep of the series. We moved to 31-9 overall and 12-6 in the SEC, a half game back of Georgia (13-5) in the SEC East. Alabama fell to 24-17 and 4-14. Alabama may not have a stellar record, but they’re a growing, developing team and got some solid pitching yesterday, but we did just enough at the plate to support an outstanding performance from Rabes, Hugh Fisher and closer Tyler Brown who were all 3 spectacular.

Rabes went 6, gave up only 2 hits, 0 runs, with 4 walks and 8 K’s. I know he wants to get the walks number down, but he was around the plate and the home plate umpire was calling it tight, so the 4 walks could have been 1 walk. Really liked what I saw out of our senior leader of the staff. Rabes moved to 6-1 on the season with a 2.94 ERA. He was hitting 93 with his fastball, and his changeup and curve were dynamite. Rabes has gained some more velocity on his fastball. Shows how hard he works on his craft. Hugh Fisher came in for the 7th and hit a batter, but struck out 2 with his 95-97 MPH fastball and performed well. Tyler Brown closed it out in another stellar performance going 2 innings giving up just 1 hit, 0 runs with 0 walks and 1 K. Tyler earned his 9th save of the season.

And the awesome Bleday did it again at the plate going deep to left field for his 20th homer of the season, tied with Tulane’s Kody Hoase for the national lead. JJ has 53 Ribeyes as well. Philip Clarke drove in the other run with an RBI single that scored Ethan Paul who had doubled right before Philip. Philip was 2 for 3 with the RBI single and a double and Stephen Scott was 2 for 2.

Austin Martin didn’t get a hit yesterday, but is still hitting .400. JJ is hitting .363, Ethan is hitting .348 with 5 homers and 36 Ribbies along with 14 doubles, Stephen is hitting .313, with 4 homers, 30 RBIs and a team leading 15 doubles. Philip has been on a tear and is now hitting .307 with 6 homers and 47 Ribbies. Pat DeMarco is back in center and it’s awesome to have him back from injury. Pat’s average has climbed to .247 and he’s been hitting well the past 2 days after being out for a month with injury. Harrison Ray is hitting .271 and gives us quality performances at the plate and at second base. We committed 1 error yesterday, Austin committed it on a tough chopper to third, but we’re still fielding at a .982 clip which is tied for tops in the conference with State and 2nd nationally along with MS State.

Our average as a team is .311. Our team ERA is 3.70, pretty solid and getting better after a strong weekend of pitching. If we can do all three of those things like we did this weekend, we’ve got a shot to go some serious distance in late May and June.

We have no mid week game, and will face Auburn this weekend starting Thursday Night at the Hawk. We open at 6:30 PM CT on Thursday on ESPNU. Drake will be on the hill. Friday, our game is at 7 PM CT on the SEC Network with the surging Kumar Rocker taking the mound. Saturday’s finale will be a matinee at 1 Pm with Rabes on the hill. SEC Network+ will broadcast. I’ll have the Auburn hurlers later in the week.

So great stuff from our baseball team. Corbs is a day to day guy and all he cares about right now is having a good day of practice on Tuesday as I expect the team to be off today. Another huge test this weekend against No.25 Auburn. Like where the team is trending though.

David Price

Dave pitched a heckuva game yesterday. He went only 5 throwing 100 pitches, 64 for strikes against 36 balls, but allowed 5 hits with 2 earned, 2 walks and a season high 10 K’s. The Red Sox ended up winning in the 11th over the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3, so David didn’t get the victory. He is now 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP, walks and hits per inning, which is outstanding. Anything under 1.05 is exceptional. David has been a stopper for the Sox, which have been struggling but just swept the AL East leading Rays at Tampa, to move to 9-13, 5 back of the 14-8 Rays. David pitches again at Fenway on Friday versus the very good Charlie Morton and the Rays. Red Sox look like they could be heating up. They need to.

Mike Minor

Mike pitched a classic last Tuesday at Globe Life Park in Arlington for the Texas Rangers. Mike pitched a complete game shutout going the distance, giving up just 3 hits, 0 runs, with 2 walks and 7 K’s. Mike is hitting 95 with his fastball this year and his changeup, cutter and curve are electric. Mike is now 2-1 on the season with a 2.60 ERA and an 0.94 WHIP, which is unreal good. Love where MIke is right now. The Rangers are playing good ball at 12-8, 1 1/2 games behind AL West leading Seattle which is at 16-8. The Astros are at 13-8, so good stuff from Mike and the Rangers.

Sonny is pitching very well for the Reds, he’s had a resurgence in Cincinnati. Walker has been Walker for the Dodgers which is superb as always. They pitched against each other last Wednesday with Walker collecting the victory, 3-2, but both pitched very well. Dans hitting .258, and had his average up over .300, so would like to see that get back up, but he’s playing solid as usual for a very solid Braves team that is 11-10 after taking 2 of 3 from Cleveland over the weekend. Bryan Reynolds was 3 for 4 for the Pittsburgh Pirates yesterday playing center field. Bryan could have had the game tying RBI as he doubled with a man on first, but the runner was thrown out at home. Bryan looking like he’s going to stick with the Pirates. Tony Kemp and Curt Casali still playing key roles on the Astros and Reds respectively. Will have more on our MLB guys later in the week.

Stack

I’m starting to really like this out of the box hire by AD Malcolm Turner. Stack was very impressive in his interview with Joe Fisher. I like that he talks about toughness and defense and playing uptempo. He played at North Carolina under Dean Smith, so you know Jerry Stackhouse can coach offense as well. Stack has named 3 assistants and he’s kept 6’9” 4 star power forward Dylan Disu, which is huge. Now if he can just get Scotty Pippen JR to stick with us and keep Matt Ryan and Yanni Wetzell on the team we can be a pretty solid team next year. Like what we have in Stack. He’s going to do an excellent job.

Joejuan Williams

Joejuan is getting ready for the draft on Thursday and Friday. ESPN NFL draft experts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay have Joejuan going in the third round. Kiper has him going to the Carolina Panthers. Would love to see the man even go higher. He had an awesome career at VU and want him to excel on the next level and also hope he can finish out his degree at VU in the 2020 offseason. Justin Skule, Jordan Griffin, Bruno Reagan, Josh Smith and LeDarius Wiley are some others who could be drafted and at least be free agents with shots to make their respective teams. Will keep you posted.


Men’s Golf

Our men’s golf team will be competing in the SEC Championship in Sea Island, GA beginning Wednesday. There will be 3 rounds of stroke play followed by 2 days of match play. The top 8 teams out of 14 will qualify for the match play out of the stroke play. Scott Limbaugh’s team is ranked No.4 by Golfstat and looks to add another SEC title to their resume. We won it 2 years ago. Then we’ll prepare for the NCAA’s. Will Gordon, Patrick Martin, John Augenstein and the guys are a formidable unit, so I expect another stellar performance out of our team this week and beyond that. I’ll keep you updated on our men.

Women’s tennis

Geoff McDonald’s team fell to South Carolina on Saturday in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament. We’re ranked in the top 10 in the country and start NCAA Regional play Friday, May 3rd. We’ll more than likely host the first 2 rounds. We’ve got a solid team. Would really like to see Fernanda Contreras and the team continue the stellar tradition of our program under the guidance of the great McDonald.

I’ll have more stuff coming up later this week and next including a look at our 2020 football commits, there are 3 of them, high 3 star quarterback Ken Seals, solid 3 star receiver Logan Kyle and solid 3 star O lineman Bradley Ashmore Watched tape on all 3 and really liked what I saw. Much more to come on football. I need to go over the 2019 class which is a solid group. And general thoughts on the team. Thanks.

The Masters Tournament preview, prediction



Tough hole No.11 the start of the famed Amen Corner, 11-12-13 will lead to high drama on Sunday. (Photo, Golf.com).

Tough hole No.11 the start of the famed Amen Corner, 11-12-13 will lead to high drama on Sunday. (Photo, Golf.com).

The 83rd Masters

Key holes

The Backside at Augusta National will be sizzling on Sunday afternoon on CBS

No.10: Par 4, 495 yards

A long hole that can play shorter if the drive catches the slope in the fairway. The second shot is critical here as the player hits to a green that is sloping right to left. Short right is in the sand trap and is a difficult up and down for par. T

No.11: Par 4 505 yards

The beginning of Amen Corner (holes 11-13), this hole is a difficult, long par 4, that puts a premium on your approach shot. If the competitor misses to the left of the green, he is in the water. A lot of players will bail out to the right and try to get up and down for par. Par is a good score here.

No.12: Par 3, 155 yards

This hole always tests a player's focus and resolve as there is almost always a prevailing wind that is either in the players face or at his back. Club selection and mental calmness under the storm are at a premium here. Fred Couples caught a huge break in 1992 on this hole when his ball held up on the bank and didn't go into Rae's Creek off his tee shot. That would have been devastating for Freddie. He got up and down and went on to win his only major title, though he also won 14 other times, including the 1996 Players Championship, the players' fifth major. Still, this was Fred's crowning achievement in golf.

No.13: Par 5, 510

An accurate tee shot to the center of the fairway sets up a player to go for it over a tributary of Rae's Creek that fronts the green. The second shot is another under the gun, clutchness challenge. There are four bunkers behind the putting surface. Short can be devastating on Sunday, as you're going swimming. Long can make for a difficult up and down for birdie. Birdie can be pretty critical here on Sunday for the players chasing, and for the player who is leading. One of the key moments in Masters  history was Phil Mickelson's six iron out of the pine straw and through the trees to four feet in 2010. He missed his eagle putt, but he birdied, which helped Phil clinch his third Green Jacket.

No.14:  Par 4, 440 yards

This is the only hole on the course without bunkers, but players must avoid trees on the left and right off the tee. The green is severely contoured and feeds the ball to the right. Phil holed out for eagle here on Saturday in 2010 during an eagle-eagle-birdie stretch that helped him get into the final group on Sunday in his victory that year. Bernhard Langer and chairman Billy Payne had an argument over 14 at a champions dinner several years ago. Langer got up and said there should be some changes to the 14th hole. Payne immediately interrupted and said, "This is not a place for this discussion. This dinner is over with." You don't mess with Augusta National. 

No.15: Par 5, 530 yards

A cluster of pines on the right side of the fairway is coming into play so accuracy, hitting it down the pipe, is critical off the tee. The green can be reached in two with a good tee shot, but there is a pond in the front guarding the green and a bunker on the right side of the green. Even for those players laying up, the third shot requires a precision wedge. Tiger Woods was one shot back of the lead in 2013 when his wedge hit the flagstick and caromed into the water. He went back and dropped but there was a controversy on where he dropped the ball. He made bogey, but his incorrect drop was not discovered until after the round. He was allowed to stay in the tournament because of a committee error. Woods finished tied for fourth that year.

No.16: Par 3, 170 yards

The hole plays entirely over water and eventually bends to the left. Two bunkers guard the right side of the green and the green slopes significantly from right to left. The pin on Sunday is typically back left and on the lower shelf, so pars from the top shelf of the green are rare. Tiger Woods' amazing chip in 2005 in which his ball took a U turn and rolled toward the hole taking two seconds before dropping in the cup giving him a two shot lead over Chris DiMarco and the eventual victory is one of the more memorable shots in Masters history, but there have been so many on this hole.

No.17: Par 4, 440 yards

The tee shot is easier because the Eisenhower tree was lost to an ice storm in 2014. The green is protected by two bunkers in front. Jack sank his final birdie from 12 feet in 1986 to secure his 18th and final major at age 46. "Yes Sir!"

N0.18: Par 4 465 yards

One of the most demanding finishing holes in golf, this uphill dogleg right is protected off the tee by two deep bunkers down the fairway to the left about 280-285 yards out. The drive is through a chute between two sets of trees on the player's right and left sides. A middle iron is required on a highly tension filled approach shot. There is a bunker in front and on the right side of the green. Adam Scott birdied here in 2013 from 25 feet and Angel Cabrera followed him up with a birdie from four feet to set up a playoff which Scott won on No.10, the first playoff hole. It was a clutch city performance by both players. Should be an electric finish.

Observations

The 83rd Masters Tournament has an interesting plot this year. There are no clear cut favorites. There are a lot of very good players in the field with this crop of talent in the game today, but I’m not seeing closers amongst this group. I’m not seeing Nicklaus, Palmer, Player, Watson, Trevino, Ballesteros and Faldo amongst these guys.

Dustin Johnson has terrific physical talent, but doesn’t seem to have it upstairs when it counts. Any time he’s the favorite, and even when he’s got the lead in a major after the second round like last year in the U.S. Open and looked unstoppable, he fails to close the deal

Rory is that kind of player as well. He seems to not get it done when you think he is going to.

Justin Thomas is a great player, but hasn’t proven that he can win more than 1 major.

Jordan Spieth is a little out of sorts right now, so you don’t know what you’re going to get from him either.

Jason Day, I don’t see him winning.

Brooks Koepka has been great at the U.S. Open the last 2 years and also won the PGA last year, but he hasn’t really ever been a factor at Augusta.

Rickie Fowler, Don’t see him as a closer in majors.

Justin Rose, possibly, but not a super track record at Augusta either.

Tiger Woods, possibly, he’s a 4 time winner in 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2005, so he’s got a shot and he was definitely a closer for a long time. But I’m not exactly bullish on him.

Patrick Reed , the defending champion, pretty critical of his teammates at the Ryder Cup, which I’m not sure wasn’t warranted, but he’s not playing that well either.

Phil, Not out of the question.

So, I’m going to take the 36 year old from Turin Italy. He won the Arnie and his performance at the Open Championship last year was beyond spectacular. Give me:

Francesco Molinari

Like Molinari to capture his second major in a year (Photo, Golf Digest).

Like Molinari to capture his second major in a year (Photo, Golf Digest).


Sleepers

Tony Finau

Tommy Fleetwood


TV coverage

Thursday-Friday, 2-6:30 PM CT, ESPN

Saturday, 2-6:30 PM CT, CBS

Sunday, 1-6 PM CT, CBS

Weather

Thursday-great, high 83, winds 10-16 MPH, so wind a factor

Friday-pretty good, 84, chance of a shower, winds 9-13

Saturday, Mostly cloudy, 84, winds 6-10

Sunday, Chance for Strong T storms, hopefully not on Sunday at Augusta, Winds 13-18.

NBA Champion

Playoffs start Saturday on ESPN, TNT and ABC

The Warriors are the favorites once again, but I’m seeing a soap opera out there. Kevin Durant is a bitter, disgruntled player right now, and with Draymond Green, who knows what’ll happen with him and how many technicals he’ll accumulate and maybe cost his team. I see them getting through the west and defeating James Harden, who hasn’t ever proven it in the playoffs, and the Rockets, but I like Milwaukee and the “Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo, a superb basketball player, who I like as MVP over Harden, to win out in the east over the Toronto Raptors and Kawai Leonard, and with the home court advantage in the championship series, I like Giannis and the Bucks to upset the Warriors. Like the Milwaukee Bucks to hoist the Lawrence O’Brien Trophy in June, the first time Milwaukee has done that since 1971 (48 years) when Kareem Abdul Jabbar was there and was unstoppable and was named Lou Alcinder at the time. Giannis is a force.

Bucks over Warriors in 7