Baseball had a really solid night at the plate and with our starting pitching last night, and as usual, on defense, as we defeated Middle Tennessee State, 17-7, before 2,682 fans at the Hawk.
We pounded out 17 hits, Will Toffey and Jeren Kendall both went deep, and Matt Ruppenthal was outstanding, going 6 innings, giving up 1 run on 5 hits with 2 walks and 6 K's. Good stuff from Rupe. Corbs will pitch Matt next Tuesday in Day 1 of the SEC tournament at Hoover. We are in 8th place in the SEC standings, and as of today, we'd play Ole Miss on Tuesday. We are 13-13 in the SEC and 31-21 overall. Ole Miss is 13-14 and 31-22 overall. We played them the first series of the season in Oxford and they took 2 of 3 from us. But that seeding is subject to change possibly after our series with Alabama this weekend. The Crimson Tide comes in for a 3 game set starting tomorrow night (Thursday) at 6:30 CT. Friday Night's game is at 6:30 CT, and Saturday's game is at 1 PM CT. All 3 games will be broadcast by SEC Network+ on the computer. You can go to the SECsports.com website and connect to SEC Network+ by going to the game and clicking on Watch Live in the VU-Bama box score.
We could finish as high as 6th with a good series vs Alabama, or as low as 9th, so we need to play well this weekend of course. On the first day of the SEC Tourney, No.5 plays No. 12, 6 plays 11, 7 plays 10, and 8 plays 9. As of right now, Tennessee and Alabama are out. Alabama is eliminated, but Tennessee could make it with a good weekend against Missouri at home, and if Georgia struggles on the road at South Carolina. Georgia is 9-18 and Tennessee is 7-18.
For us last night, the defense was spectacular, as it has been the last 10 games or more. Jeren threw a runner out at the plate, and we committed no errors. We have a really exceptional defensive team. Toffey hit the first pitch of the game over the right central field wall, his 7th homer of the season. Will has 44 Ribeyes and is hitting .319. Will was 2 for 3 with 3 Ribbies for the game. Jeren hit a tape measure shot in the bottom of the third, driving in Ro, who had singled in front of him. Jeren's homer, which went out of the stadium, looked 450 feet. It was massive. That was Jeren's 14th homer of the season. He's 4th in the conference in that category and has 39 RBIs to go along with those 14 deep ones. He is now hitting .298.
Ro was 2 for 5 and made another outstanding catch in left field. It was a sliding grab in shallow left that Ro hit the ground feet first and corralled in. Ro may have made the defensive play of the season in the SEC Sunday with his leaping grab of an Arkansas hitter's deep shot to left field. It was going to hit the top of the wall and bound into play for a triple of even an inside the park homer if Ro missed it. Ro jumped 4 feet and reached up high and amazingly grabbed the ball. It was spectacular. Like where Ro is right now. Corbs says that Ro is one of the most popular players in Vanderbilt baseball history, like Tony Kemp, David Price, Sonny Gray, Carson Fulmer, Tyler Beede, etc... Everybody wants to see Ro excel. I'll have a feature on Ro coming up in the next couple of weeks. Spoke with Corbs this morning and trying to get in touch with Ro. Will have that coming up.
Jeren was 2 for 5 with 2 RBIs, Ethan Paul had a 2 run double, right fielder JJ Bleday was 2 for 3 with an RBI, and Connor Kaiser was 2 for 4 with 2 Ribbies. Good to see Connor having a good night at the plate. He's such an exceptional defensive shortstop, that if he gets his bat going, he's stellar. He already is, but he's struggled with the bat a little bit, but looks to be coming out of it. Connor's superb. Alonzo Jones came off the bench and had a triple. and Harrison Ray had an RBI double. Good to see those 2 guys contribute because they are both excellent players and can help here in the postseason.
All in all a super effort by the team. Corbs believes this team can be very successful if we can get a third starter established as soon as possible. Could be Chandler Day, could be Drake Fellows. With Kyle Wright and Patrick Raby, we have a terrific 1-2 combination. We just need to get that third guy and have Rupe step up as another starter because we'll need him in the postseason somebody else to start, too. Corbs pointed out that Collin Snider is critical out of the pen, and there are freshmen who are "pretty confident," but Snider, "is the wild card, we have to have him perform well."
Bama this weekend and then we'll get ready for the postseason. Like what this team is capable of if we can gain even more confidence at the plate and on the mound this weekend.
Dansby Swanson went 2 for 4 last night with a homer in a Braves 9-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. That was Dansby's 3rd homer of the season. I saw it and it was a shot in the top of the 7th that broke a 5-5 tie, so it was clutch. Dansby hit his homer over the central field wall, 425 feet. it was a beauty. Dans now has an 8 game hitting streak going and has raised his average to .194, which is not that great, but he was hitting .150 about a week ago, so it's major progress. He also turned a couple of double plays. His defense at short is outstanding. The Braves have won the first 2 at Toronto and go for the sweep tonight. They moved to 15-21 last night. They are tied for 2nd place in the NL East with the Mets, but 9 back of the awesome Washington Nationals, who sit at 25-13.
Sonny pitches tomorrow night at home vs Boston. David Price is still working his way back for the Bosox. Still a couple of weeks away it looks like. Hopefully David will get on the mound at the end of the month. Mike Minor doing a good job out of the KC Royals bullpen. Would love to see Mike get another shot at starting. He's a major league starting pitcher.
We are +4 today and tied with Lipscomb for the lead at -8 at the College Grove Regional. We are on holes 6 through 9. Clemson and Kennesaw State are at -5. We're going to get into the NCAA's because after us and those four others, Troy is in 6th place at +7. But of course we want to win this to give us more momentum and confidence heading into the NCAA's, and it would probably help our seeding in the big tournament. Will let you know what happens later this afternoon. Need to play better.