The No.'s. 6/8 Vanderbilt Commodores baseball team, as ranked by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and D1Baseball.com, are in College Station tonight through Saturday to face the No.2 Texas A&M Aggies. We are 35-10 overall and 13-8 in the SEC, while A&M is 35-9 and 14-7. Tonight's game at Blue Bell Stadium, capacity 7,500 standing room, is @ 6 PM CT/7 PM ET on the Deuce, ESPN2. Friday's game is @ 6 PM CT/7 PM ET on the SEC Network, and Saturday's game is @ 2:30 PM CT/3:30 PM ET also on the S-E-C Network. It's a gigantic series for the guys. Our outstanding vets and stellar young guys will be tested in Blue Bell Stadium, and I personally have full faith in our guys.
Corbs may have done one of his best coaching jobs so far this season, and that's a tremendously high bar. Mixing in our stud freshmen, the top rated class in 2015 by Perfect Game, with our super older guys Bryan Reynolds, Jeren Kendall, Will Toffey, Jordan Sheffield, Kyle Wright, John Kilichoski, Ben Bowden, Jason Delay, Ro, Karl Ellison, and one of the underrated gems of our team, Tyler Campbell, has been an incredible achievement by the author of Vanderbilt baseball. Corbs has done such an awesome job with our pitching staff, trying to find the right guys on the weekend, using our middle relief and closers so well, and getting this team to play superb defense by getting the right guys in the right spots. It's been masterful. I don't like to compare seasons for Corbs because he's had such an awesome career at VU, with many more seasons to come I hope, but the job he's done this season has been nothing short of miraculous. The freshmen, first baseman Julian Infante, shortstop Connor Kaiser, DH Alonzo Jones, utility infielder and DH Ethan Paul, and pitchers Donny Everett and Patrick Raby, have been terrific players for us so far. The vets have done an excellent job bringing them along. They don't play like freshmen any more. Corbs said they've been with us seven months, they're experienced guys now.
School is over, exams are behind us, and it's time to concentrate on baseball, both in the SEC and in the future in May and June. We've got quite a test this weekend.
Sheff, who is 7-2 with a 2.29 ERA with 26 walks and 87 strikeouts and was named SEC pitcher of the week for the third time this season, will take the hill for us tonight against right hander Turner Larkins of the other team. Larkins is 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA. Sheff brings a 24 inning scoreless streak into the game. Sheff just needs to throw his 96-98 MPH fastball, locate it well, mix it up with his change and his occasional curve and he'll be good.
Tomorrow night, Kyle Wright, who's been super as well with a 5-3 record and a 2.11 ERA with 20 walks and 67 K's, will face right handed pitcher Brigham Hill of the other team. Hill is 5-0 with a 2.03 ERA. Saturday, our starter has not been named but I'm prognosticating that it will be most likely righty Patrick Raby, who is 6-0 with a 1.90 ERA with 14 walks and 52 K's. Patrick will square off against the other team's right hander Kyle Simonds, who is 7-1 with a 2.83 ERA, and had a pretty solid outing @ Arkansas last Sunday, in a 6-2 A&M victory. They took two of three in Fayetteville last weekend.
Our leading hitters are right fielder Jeren Kendall and center fielder Bryan Reynolds, the two guys who are the heart and soul of this baseball team along with Sheff and Ben Bowden. Jeren and Bryan are both hitting .344. Jeren has been awesome, hitting eight homers and adding 49 Ribeyes. He also has 20 stolen bases in 28 attempts. And he has 13 doubles and four triples. Jeren is a superb player, a stellar outfielder. As is Bryan, who plays center like Mike Trout, has 10 home runs, tied for the conference lead, 42 Ribeyes, 14 doubles and 2 triples. What these two bring to this team are leadership, toughness and clutchness. These two guys are super clutch. Ethan Paul is hitting .315, Alonzo Jones is hitting .297, Julian Infante is hitting .294, the super valuable Tyler Campbell is hitting .281, and awesome freshman shortstop Connor Kaiser is hitting .270. And the importance of our defense cannot be overstated. Toffey is so solid at third, and while he hasn't had his best year at the plate so far this season, he had three hits last Saturday, and he's starting to look like the real Will Toffey at the plate more and more. If we can get Will's bat going again, and it's looking promising, that would be a huge boost to the lineup. Julian is playing excellent first base and his bat is phenomenal. Against Western Kentucky this past Tuesday Night, Julian was two for three with a double and a triple and three Ribeyes. In the 6-1 victory over Western Ky, Corbs started freshman Matt McGary, who gave us a solid start, and used a bullpen by committee to finish it off. Julian also had a huge two run shot against Georgia last Sunday in a 10-3 victory, as we swept Georgia over last weekend. We hit four homers on Sunday. Jeren, Julian, Ethan and Karl all went yard. We crushed the ball last weekend. I know we can keep that up. Will is doing a tremendous job at the Hot Corner and Julian has first base covered, and our middle infield of Tyler at second and Connor at short has been spectacular. Ellison and the awesome Jason Delay have been terrific behind the plate and the Kendall-Reynolds combination in the outfield is second to none in the country. Ro is doing a solid job in left and Nolan Rogers gives Ro some help later in the game. I love our defense.
This other team has some hitting. They lead the conference in homers with 44. Third baseman Boomer White, who hits third, leads the other team in hitting at .437. He hasn't faced Sheff, Kyle or our staff yet though. Shortstop Austin Homan is hitting .370, and first baseman Hunter Melton is hitting .368 with 10 homers, tied with Reynolds for the SEC lead, and 56 ribbies. Catcher Michael Barash is hitting .313. Center fielder Nick Choruby is hitting .317. They hit .326 as a team, which leads the conference. We're hitting .284, but we're on a tear. We can definitely hit with these guys. Their team ERA is 3.21 and their fielding percentage is .980. Our team ERA is 2.97 and we're fielding at a .977 percentage. Over the last eight games, we've only committed two errors and are fielding at a .993 percentage. That's super.
Like our coach always does, I'm just going to predict tonight's game and give a daily report with predictions every day this weekend. Of course, I'm hoping for a sweep, but I believe in the Tim Corbin, be the best you can be today approach. Tonight, Sheff, the defense, and timely hitting get the job done for us.
VU 4, them 3
I'll have a lot more on our team and this series coming up this weekend.
MLB guys, new NFL guys, and guys who've already made their mark in the National Football League
David Price had an interesting outing versus the Bronx Bombers last Sunday night at Fenway. DP struggled a little, but settled down late in the game and his tremendous hitters and defenders behind him and some timely pitching by the man, led the Sox to 8-7 victory over the Yankees. David had some trouble with A-Rod, giving up a homer and a double and four ribbies to Alex, but David retired all three batters in order in the top of the sixth, and got dangerous hitters Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and A-Rod in order in the seventh to keep the game tied at 6. The Sox scored two in the bottom of the seventh and held on for the victory. David moved to 4-0. His ERA is 6.14, not up to his standards by any means, and his WHIP is 1.28, not his usual standard either. But he's only walked nine and struck out 49 in six appearances. David has faced some tough hitting teams, like he always does in the AL East. He'll get that ERA and WHIP down. His strikeout to walk ratio is superb. Have full faith in the man. His fastball is clocking at 92-93 right now, but he'll get that velocity up as the season progresses and his change up has really become a go-to pitch like his fastball and his cutter, which comes up at 88-89, and is a very good pitch for him. His curve is still coming along.
David goes Saturday @ Yankee Stadium vs. the Bombers. He'll face Nathan Eovaldi, who is 1-2 with a 5.49 ERA. That's who he faced Sunday. The Sox got 10 hits off Eovaldi and scored six runs. Game time is 1:05 PM ET/12:05 PM CT in New Yawk.
Sonny got roughed up pretty hard by the Mariners, going only two innings, giving up two hits four runs with four walks and two K's. He just couldn't find the strike zone and it cost him. Sonny is now 3-2 with a 3.81 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP, not as Sonny-like as usual. He has walked 15 and struck out 26. Still believe Sonny will turn it around. He'll face the BoSox Monday Night and will pitch against Clay Bucholtz.
Pedro was three-for-five last Saturday Night for the Orioles in a 10-7 loss to the outstanding Chicago White Sox. Chicago is loaded this season on both the North and South sides. The Cubs are unreal at 20-6, and the ChiSox are 19-9. Pedro had an RBI double and a solo home run, his first of the season, last Saturday. He's hitting mostly against right handers, but if he can get that bat really going, Buck Showalter may use him against lefties down the road.
Ryan Flaherty has played third base the last two nights for the O's and has been his usual stellar self on defense. He got a hit last night. Still believe Pedro and Ryan can be highly productive players for the O's.
Mike Minor could be back with the KC Royals at the end of this month. Would love to see Mike get back out there ASAP. Know he's ready.
I went to the Birmingham Barons game last Friday Night as a media member to watch one Carson Fulmer pitch for the Barons against Pensacola. Carson, picked eighth by the White Sox in the 2015 draft, was scheduled, but I got to the game and was walking to Regions Field and all of the sudden a massive thunderstorm hit. The game was postponed till the following night at 5 PM, so I watched it on the computer as I couldn't make it to the game. Carson pitched well going six in a seven inning game, as it was a makeup doubleheader after Friday night's rainout, he gave up five hits, three earned, with one walk and three K's in an 8-3 Barons' victory. He's 2-3 with a 5.47 ERA. It's an adjustment for him pitching in double A, but he's had two solid starts his last two times out and he's getting it. He's pitching next week either Tuesday or Wednesday and I'm definitely going to be at the game and interview Carson. Will have a full report on Carson next week the day after he pitches.
Dansby will be coming over to play the Barons in mid June with the Mississippi Braves, the double A team for Atlanta. Have it already scheduled with the Braves to interview Dans after the game and will have a full report on Dans as well.
Now former VU defensive end Stephen Weatherly was drafted in the seventh round by the Minnesota Vikings. Proud for Stephen. Hopefully, he'll have a super camp and take off in Minnesota. Also d end Caleb Azubike signed with Dallas as a free agent, Offensive guard Jake Bernstein went to KC as an FA, and the rest of our guys were free agent signees; linebacker Darreon Herring to the LA Rams, center Spencer Pulley to San Diego, tight end Steven Scheu signed with New England and safety Andrew Williamson signed with Indianapolis. Hope all seven can really develop and become great professionals joining our established guys, Jay, JMatt, Casey and Andre Hal. Andre had a huge year for the Houston Texans with four ints. Andre's awesome. Casey had a good year for the Packers, Jay did a lot of good things for the Bears and I'm pretty pumped about him and his team next year, and JMatt was super for the Eagles and the future looks bright there, too.
Derek and his staff starting to prepare more and more for our opener Thursday Night, Sept. 1, at home versus South Carolina. This game is so big for us. Winning that game would be a tremendous boost to our team. I know Coach Mason and all the coaches have already been scouring over SC stuff for quite a while now. Coach James Dobson has the players in the weight room now, and he'll get'em ready for Coach Mason and the staff to take over in August. Like I said in another post earlier, I love the mix of our new young coaches with our stellar veterans. Really excited to see what Coach Mason and the team can do next year and in the future.
Don't have a lot to report. Coach Drew is out recruiting hard along with his staff. Could be a player or two we add soon, maybe another freshman and a transfer. We're looking at some point guards as the loss of Wade hurts some, and we might add a big man with the loss of Damian. Both Wade and Damian are going to the NBA. I like the potential of this team next year though. We have a lot of good talent returning and I'm a believer in Bryce. He's going to have us playing deep in the postseason sooner rather than later.
Geoff, women's tennis
Geoff and his sixth ranked girls will be hosting Ohio Valley Conference champion Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, the No. 31 Clemson Tigers and C-USA champions Rice at the Vanderbilt Currey Tennis Center May 13th-14th in the NCAA Tournament. This is our 22nd consecutive NCAA appearance. That's terrific. Clemson will play Rice in the first match on Friday, May 13th, at 1 PM CT and we'll play SIUE after that. We finished the regular season with a record of 19-5 and are the sixth overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. Geoff likes where the team is at right now. He feels like we're peaking well for the NCAA's. We'll need to get great play from our leaders, Sydney Campbell, Frances Altick and Astra Sharma, and also stellar play from Courtney Colton, Georgina Sellyn and Fernanda Contreras. The other four teams in our pod are 11th seeded Auburn, Alcorn State, Arizona State and NC State. The top team from each of the 16 regional sites goes to the NCAA Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma May 19th-24th.
Scott, Men's golf
Scott Limbaugh and our 9th ranked men's golf team will be hosting an NCAA regional site with 12 other teams at the Legends Club in Franklin, Tennessee, May 16th-18th. We will host a 54 hole tournament and the top five teams from our site will qualify for the NCAA Championships to be played in Eugene, Oregon at Eugene Country Club, May 27th-June 1st. We will need great play from Matthias Schwab, Patrick Martin, Will Gordon and the rest of our guys to advance to Eugene. We have some quality teams at our regional with No.2 Texas, No. 14 LSU and No. 23 Washington among the 13 teams competing. Looking forward to keeping up with our guys as they try to go the distance this year.
The Men's tennis team and the women's golf team also made the NCAA's. Great stuff from Men's tennis coach Ian Duvenhage and women's golf coach Greg Allen. The 34th ranked men's team is making its 15th NCAA tournament appearance and will be a part of the LA regional hosted by third overall seed UCLA out on the left coast. We will open Friday, May 13th against San Diego University. We have four upset victories this season over top 25 opponents. and we reached the SEC semis. No.2 UCLA plays Weber State in the other match in Los Angeles.
The women's golf team is at Shoal Creek, Alabama today playing in their NCAA tournament. We need to get in the top 5 also to reach the NCAA Championships.