Kumar, Stephen Scott among others lead Commodores to victory over State

Kumar Rocker went 6 innings, gave up just 5 hits, 1 run, with 1 walk and 6 strikeouts and Stephen Scott crushed 2 homers to lead the No.2 Commodores to a 6-3 victory over No.3 Mississippi State Bulldogs at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.

We moved to 56-11 on the season and now play Friday Night at 6 on ESPN against the winner of the Miss State-Louisville game tomorrow. The weather could be a question mark the next couple of days so hopefully we can play as scheduled.

Kumar was brilliant and moved to 11-5 and has a 3.38 ERA. Tyler Brown came on in relief of Patrick Raby in the bottom of the 7th and was just as brilliant giving up just 1 hit, 0 runs with 0 walks and 2 K's. Tyler earned his 16th save of the season. If there's a better closer in college baseball I haven't seen him. Tyler's the best.

Stephen Scott clubbed 2 home runs, he now has 14 on the season. He hit a solo shot and a 3 run shot, and JJ Bleday had 3 hits including a key RBI double driving Austin Martin home from first to put us up 2-0 before Stephen unloaded for his 3 run shot.

Harrison Ray played spectacular defense at second base. He snared a line drive headed into right field late in the game, turned a super double play with Ethan Paul and executed the first out of the 9th on a super stop to the right of him on a ground ball throwing out the speedy Jake Mangum.

It was a terrific performance by the team. We still need to do a little better with runners in scoring position and particularly with our middle relief, but overall, solid effort by the team.

Woodland does it for Amy at the 119th U.S. Open

Gary Woodland put on a historic performance at the 119th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in winning his first major championship in beyond impressive fashion.

Gary’s been through a lot with him and his wife losing one of their twins 18 months ago when they were expecting and the twins were born prematurely. They lost a daughter during childbirthwhich was devastating, but had a son. Their son is healthy now which is awesome, but the loss of their daughter is still a difficult chapter in their lives. They are expecting twin daughters in August and while the loss of his daughter will always be remembered sadly, Gary Woodland has won the United States Open for her and his present and upcoming, expanding family. It’s an amazing story.

There’s also another powerful story in the great Woodland’s life. And that is Amy Bockerstette.

Gary met Amy, who has Down’s Syndrome, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and they played together. They formed a bond that will last forever. Amy had a 16 foot putt on the 18th which she sank. It was a powerful., moving moment. She and Woodland embraced emotionally. She’s special and so is Gary Woodland.

Gary shot 13 under par to defeat the great Brooks Koepka, who was gunning for his 5th major championship in 9 attempts, an incredible feat, at the Open and played superb golf as well. Brooks finished -10. Brooks was down 2 shots on 18 and crushed his drive. He had 237 yards in on the par 5 for his second shot. Brooks said afterwards to Joel Klatt of FOX that he was between a 3 iron and a 4 iron. He knew he couldn’t get the 4 iron there, so he pulled out his 3 iron and attempted to hit it high and land it soft. He hit it perfectly, but the ball landed on the green and rolled to the back into the rough. From there, Koepka could not get up and down for birdie and Woodland still had a 2 shot lead.

Right before that on 17, Woodland faced a long what looked like putt on the difficult par 3 17th, that was over fringe and rough on the large, kidney shaped 17th green. He elected to pull out his 64 degree wedge and chip it over the rough. It was about a 90 foot chip. He executed the shot perfectly with the ball rolling 2 feet from the hole. It was a magical shot, one of many Woodland executed throughout the Open. Woodland rolled it in for par, and for good measure, he birdied 18 from 20 feet. There was the chip in par Saturday on the par 4 13th , that was historically good. There was the phenomenal 3 wood on Sunday on the par 5 14th, where Woodland had 257 to clear the trap. Woodland was going to be aggressive, he was there to win, and cleared the trap in front of the green and the landed the ball 25 feet for eagle and 2 putted for birdie to give himself a then 2 shot lead. Just shot after shot, key putt after key putt, the great 35 year old from Topeka, Kansas by way of the Washburn University (Topeka) and the University of Kansas was not going to be denied.

Gary Woodland is now a major champion on quite possibly golf’s biggest stage. And he did it for Amy, he did it for his wife, Gabby. He did it for his deceased daughter, his 18 month old son and his new twin daughters coming in August.

Not a more deserving guy than the great Gary Woodland. The FOX broadcast of the Open was flawless. Joe, Paul, Brad and crew were phenomenal. FOX has now got coverage of the U.S. Open down to a science. The uninterrupted coverage in the final hour and really a lot of uninterrupted coverage throughout the Open was spectacular. Congratulations to FOX Sports and Joe Buck, Paul Azinger, Brad Faxon and all the FOX golf commentating team on their superb work on the 199th U.S. Open. They have the contract through 2026 and I’m very much looking forward to their broadcast of the 120th Open from famed Winged Foot in New York next year .

Gary Woodland is a champion and there should be more majors to come for the talented, high character gentleman from Kansas. He earned every bit of the 119th U.S. Open championship. He left no doubts on the course that he was the best player in the world at the Open. And there was so much more to the Gary Woodland story than just winning this epic major. He’s a happy guy right now and I can’t think of anyone more deserving than Gary Woodland.

Baseball versus Mississippi State preview, ML:B guys playing spectacularly well

****Please disregard anything about the game taking place tonight. It’s tomorrow at 1:07 PM CT on ESPN****

After a very well played 3-1 victory over Louisville Sunday in which our stellar sophomore third baseman Austin Martin hit two homers, which gives him 4 in his last 2 games, he homered twice against Duke in game 3 of the Super Regional, and a terrific pitching performance by Drake Fellows and Tyler Brown, we square off with a familiar foe in our second hurdle in the College World Series. Our 55-11, No. 2 ranked Commodores square off with No.3 Mississippi State (52-13), which is coming off a wild 5-4 victory over Auburn on Sunday Night. State was down to their last 3 outs in the bottom of the 9th with a 4-1 deficit, but scored 4 times and got a gift from Auburn third baseman Edouard Julien who committed a throwing error on what would have been the third out, and allowed the Bulldogs to come all the way back and capture the game.

Due to inclement weather today the game will be broadcast by ESPN tomorrow, Wednesday, at 1:07 PM CT. Auburn and Louisville will finish up their game which is in the top of the 5th with Louisville leading 4-1, tonight at 9 CT on ESPN. Karl Ravech, Eduardo Pe’rez and KP, Kyle Peterson, on the call. Kris Budden will report from the field. Kyle is a top 4 commentator in sports along with Jay Bilas in college basketball, Herbie in college football, and Cris Collinsworth on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. Really like KP’s commentary. He’s spectacular. You will enjoy the game with Kyle’s commentary, particularly if we come out on top

Kumar Rocker, coming off a no hit, 2 walk 19 strikeout performance in one of the most historic performances in college baseball history, will be on the hill for us. Kumar has been spectacular lately, not only the Duke game, but the entire last 2 months of the season. He is 10-5 with a 3.50 ERA, with just 18 walks and 97 K’s. There is a different kind of pressure in Omaha. Michigan’s pitcher, junior Tommy Henry, who pitched a complete game, 3 hit shutout with 0 walks and 10 K’s in a 2-0 Wolverines’ victory over Florida State, said he was extremely nervous when he took the mound. There will be adrenaline running in Kumar and some nerves, but he’s such a competitor and a big game pitcher already. I trust him tomorrow. Kumar will face senior Peyton Plumlee, a right hander, who is 7-4 with a 3.67 ERA, with 27 walks and 63 K’s. Plumlee’s last outing was an 8-1 Super regional victory over Stanford in Starkville in which he pitched 6.2 innings, gave up 2 hits, 1 run, with 1 walk and 6 K’s.

But I believe our guys will be ready to respond.

Austin Martin is now hitting .411 with 10 homers and 45 Ribeyes. His slugging percentage is .641, second only to JJ Bleday’s .715, which are both spectacular numbers. Anything over a .500 slugging in the major leagues is considered outstanding, so what Austin and JJ have done is sensational.

Hopeful that Kumar can duplicate his effort from the Duke game, but if he runs into trouble, our middle relief needs to be good to get it to Tyler Brown in the 8th or the 9th. Jake Eder, Zach King, Ethan Smith, Hugh Fisher, A.J. Franklin, Jackson Gillis and Chance Huff need to all be ready. But if Kumar can give us another spectacular performance, that would be the best of all worlds.

Will keep you informed on this tremendously important game tomorrow.

MLBers

Tyler Beede

Tyler pitched terrifically last night in leading his San Francisco Giants to a 3-2 victory over the 48-25 Los Angeles Dodgers at Chavez Ravine in LA. Against one of the top lineups in major league baseball, Tyler pitched 6, gave up only 3 hits, 1 run with 5 walks and 7 K’s. Would like to see those base on balls number go down, but he battled and pitched a brilliant game. I watched the first 2 innings before hitting the sack, and Tyler was hitting 95-96 with his fastball, his breaking ball was superb, and his changeup was solid. Just an awesome performance from Tyler, a key piece in our 2014 national championship team. It’s been a struggle for Tyler in the big leagues and he’s gone down to triple A quite a bit due to control issues. But he’s battled and last night’s performance against a stellar lineup can only give him a ton of confidence heading into his next start Saturday at Arizona. Tyler was a first round draft pick by the Toronto Blue Jays coming out of high school in Massachusetts, but turned down their contract offer to come to Nashville. That’s character and maturity. Tyler’s a total class act and I’m really pulling for him to keep excelling. Last night had to be a big boost to his confidence. He’s got tremendous talent, so it’s just continue to tap into that talent going forward. Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who’s won 3 world series in 2010, 2012 and 2014 and is retiring after this season, said Tyler will keep getting better and better. He said this last night after the game. Bochy believes in him. The Giants moved to 31-39, and they are getting better and better. They’ll probably need to get the first or second wild card because the Dodgers are going to be close to impossible to catch.

Yaz

Mike Yastrzemski is making his mark for the SF Giants as well. Yaz has been playing pretty regularly in left field and is hitting .250 with 2 homers and 7 RBIs. Mike made a spectacular, game saving catch in the bottom of the 9th Saturday Night to preserve an 8-7 Giants victory over the NL Central leading Milwaukee Brewers (40-32). Yaz has always been an exceptional player with great defensive skills, good hitting and super speed, so it’s awesome to see the 28 year old catch on with the Giants.

Mike certainly has great talent in his genes. His grandfather, Carl Yastrzemski, was a 1989 Hall of Fame inductee after having a spectacular career with the Boston Red Sox from 1961-83. Grandfather Yaz was one of the greatest players of all time. The great Yaz hit ,.285 for his career with 452 homers and 1,844 RBIs. He was an 18 time All Star, AL MVP in 1967, Triple Crown winner in 1967, leading the majors in homers, RBIs and batting average, which is almost impossible to do, he was a 7 time Gold Glove left fielder and was a 3 time AL batting champion in 1963, ‘67 and ‘68. One of the greatest memories from my youth was watching the 1975 World Series when Yaz’s Red Sox played the great Big Red Machine Cincinnati Reds. That may have been the greatest collection of players to ever play in a World Series. In game 4, a phenomenal game, with Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and the awesome Reds holding a 2-1 lead in the series, the 2 teams put on an all time classic game at Fenway. It went into extra innings. My father made me go to bed since it was a school night. But I turned on my clock radio and listened to the extra innings. The great catcher for the BoSox, Carlton Fisk, with the score tied in the bottom of the 11th, hit a deep drive to left field but it was uncertain whether the ball would stay fair. Fisk was throwing his arms to the right begging the ball to stay fair. It did and the Red Sox won one of the most spectacular games in World Series history. The great Reds team went on to win it in 6 games, but it was such a memorable game with supreme effort from so may players. I’ll never forget it.

Yaz was a legend. Hoping Mike continues that historic legacy in his big league career.

Dansby

Dansby Swanson is playing stellar shortstop for a phenomenal Atlanta Braves baseball team. Dans and the Braves took 2 out of 3 from the Phillies this past weekend at SunTrust Park, defeating Bryce Harper and the Phils, 15-1 on Sunday. Last night, the red hot Braves defeated the Mets 12-3. Dans is now hitting .261, so I’d like to see that average continue to climb and Dans to become a .300 hitter going forward. But he’s an incredibly hard worker and such a high character guy, and will do everything possible to do that. He’s been a stellar player for the Braves this season. Freddie Freeman (.313), Ronald Acuna Jr. (.301) and second baseman Ozzie Alhies (.286) are all on fire. Freddie, at 29, is the leader for this talented, youthful team that’s sprinkled in with some talented veterans. Freddie’s a surefire All Star this year. Freddie has hit 19 homers and driven in 52 runs. He’s been spectacular. Albies was 3 for 4 last night with a homer and 4 RBIs. He has 11 homers on the season. Acuna Jr. launched his 17th homer of the season last night and has driven in 49. And the great veteran Brian McCann has been on fire lately as well. Brian is hitting .303 He hit his 7th homer of the season and his 28th and 29th RBIs. McCann has been splitting catching duties with Tyler Flowers and they are a potent combination as Flowers is having a solid year as well. The 35 year old McCann left the Braves for a while but he’s back where he belongs and says this Braves team reminds him of the 2017 World Champion Houston Astros team that he was on. He thinks this team is that good and getting better and better. The Braves are now 43-30 and lead the NL East by 3 games over the Phillies (39-37). If the pitching can hold up, the Braves can find themselves playing very deeply into October. Certainly a World Series contender. Glad Dans is part of this special team.

Bryan Reynolds

Bryan has pretty much become the every day left fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates because he is performing spectacularly well. Bryan is hitting .361 with 5 homers and 23 RBIs. He also has 15 doubles and 2 triples. Bryan will be a key piece for the Pirates going forward as they try to rebuild their team into a contender for the World Series in the future. The Pirates aren’t bad at 32-39. They’re only 7 1/2 games back of the Brewers in the NL Central with a ton of baseball left. Bryan is a pivotal player for them. Bryan was another member of our 2014 national championship team.

Sonny

Sonny Gray had an excellent outing for the Cincinnati Reds Sunday in an 11-3 victory over the Texas Rangers. Sonny pitched 5, gave up 5 hits, 3 runs, with 1 walk and 8 K’s. The Rangers are a good hitting team and unfortunately teed off on David Price last Thursday Night, so that was good stuff from Sonny. Sonny is now 3-5 with a 3.77 ERA with 27 walks and 79 K’s. Like Tyler, if Sonny can keep his control under control, he’s a fantastic pitcher. He’s got former Vanderbilt pitching coach Derek Johnson as his pitching coach for the Reds, so that’s awesome for Sonny. Johnson coached Sonny at Vanderbilt. Just really happy for Sonny that he’s out of the media zoo in New York and somewhere where he can be himself and be the pitcher he’s capable of being. He’s doing well for the 32-38 Reds, which are much improved from last season.

Curt Casali

Curt is hitting .288 for the Reds with 4 homers and 18 RBIs in a backup catching role. Curt is doing very well every time his number is called and the guy ahead of him is hitting barely above .200 so maybe Curt will keep getting more opportunities. Curt is an excellent defensive catcher as well.

Tony Kemp

Tony is starting at second base for the Astros and hitting .226 with 5 homers and 14 RBIs. Jose Altuve is supposed to come off the injured list tomorrow, so Altuve will probably get the start Wednesday. But Tony is a valuable player to the Astros and I know manager A.J, Hinch will use him quite often in the outfield and when Altuve needs a break. Tony is a superb defensive player. The Astros are playing exceptional baseball once again despite a slew of injuries to position players. They are 48-25 and lead the AL West by 8 1/2 games.

Mike Minor

Mike got another victory on Saturday, 4-3 decision over the Reds in Cincinnati. Mike pitched 6.1 innings, gave up 4 hits, 3 runs, with 4 walks and 6 K’s. He gave up a couple of homers, so he needs to be a little more accurate next time and keep it in the park, but he’s having a super year. Mike is 6-4 with a 2.63 ERA with 32 walks and 99 strikeouts. The Rangers may be the surprise team in the Major Leagues this year as they are 38-33 and, as of right now, are the second wild card team in the American League. They’re doing an excellent job out there in Arlington.

David Price

David had a rough outing against the Rangers last Thursday. In just 1.1 innings, he gave up 5 hits and 6 earned runs. Not a David Price like performance because he’s been exceptional for the Red Sox this season. David is 4-2 with a 3.52 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning, good number). He’s walked only 15 and struck out 71. He is so accurate. The Red Sox are heating up now at 40-34 as they’ve won 6 in a row, They are just 5 1/2 games back of the Yankees in the AL East. and David is on the mound tonight @ the Minnesota Twins, which has the best record in baseball at 47-24. So big start for Dave tonight.

Walker

Now last but certainly not least, far from it, Walker Buehler has been phenomenal this season for the LA Dodgers. Walker is 7-1 with a 3.06 ERA and a mind blowing 0.92 WHIP,. That WHIP is hat’s Hall of Fame stuff. Walker has walked only 13 and struck out 84. He’s hitting 97, 98, 99 regularly this season. His arm is powerful and he’s a phenomenal competitor. In Walk’s last outing versus the Cubs, a tough 2-1 loss, Walker pitched 7, gave up only 2 hits with 0 walks and 6 K’s. Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen lost it in the top of the 9th giving up 2 runs. So Walker is in extremely good shape. He could be a starter for the National League in the All Star game. He’s got my vote. He’s tremendous.

Next pitching assignments

David Price tonight @ the Twins, 7:10 CT

Mike Minor, Thursday versus the Cleveland Indians @ home, 1:05 PM CT

Walker Buehler, Thursday Night 9:10 CT versus Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants. Should be a classic at Dodger Stadium.

Sonny Gray Friday 7:10 PM CT @Milwaukee

Tyler Beede Saturday @Arizona, 9 PM CT ESPN+

****Louisville and Auburn are in a weather delay that’s been going on for 2 hours or so it seems like with Louisville leading 4-1 in the top of the 5th. A lot of game left there, so hopeful our game will start tonight close to time and we can play ball.****

Tomorrow

Will keep you informed on any developments for our baseball team entering the 1:07 PM CT first pitch versus Mississippi State. Once again, ESPN will televise and it can be seen on the ESPN App as well on your phone or ipad or the Watch ESPN website on the computer.

Football commits for 2020 and our 2019 team under DMase. are coming tomorrow as well Coach Mason, now in his 6th season, is doing stellar work on the recruiting trail for 2020 and I like the transfers and the freshmen he’s brought in to play for us this coming season along with 3 returning superstar upperclassmen in tailback Ke’Shawn Vaughn, wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb and tight end Jared Pinkney. Need to get exceptional play from Deuce Wallace or Riley Neal, whoever steps up in August at quarterback. If we can get excellent play from one or both of them, we’re loaded offensively, and I’m excited about what we have on defense. Will have more on Coach Mason and the football program tomorrow.

Also, a Stack/men’s basketball report. Stack has us prepped for a very competitive year in 2019-20. Our goal is to always go to the NCAA Tournament and excel there, and that won’t change next year with some good solid veterans and exciting new players coming into the program. Stack is also burning up the recruiting trail for 2020 with a lot of big name recruits interested in our program. Will let you know about Stack and the bball team tomorrow as well.

Our Vanderbilt Commodores begin their trek in Omaha

The first step in our CWS journey at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha is versus Louisville (49-16) at 1 PM CT Sunday on ESPN.

Our team, after a historically great performance from Kumar Rocker last Saturday Night in which he threw a complete game no hitter with 2 walks and 19 strikeouts, came back on Sunday and hit 5 home runs in a 13-2 Super Regional series clinching victory over a scrappy Duke team.

Austin Martin hit a pair of homers, and Pat DeMarco, Julian Infante and Stephen Scott also went yard. It was a fantastic performance at the plate for our electrically potent offense. We didn't hit our best the first 2 games of the series, but Kumar bailed us out Saturday Night, and we were ready to hit on Sunday.

We are now 54-11. Drake Fellows (12-1, 4.15 ERA, 104 innings pitched, 42 walks, 120 K's) will get the start for us versus the Cardinals, and I'm speculating that the Cardinals will throw left hander Reid Detmers, who's put up some impressive numbers this season. The sophomore is 12-4 with a 2.85 ERA, with 27 walks and 162 K's in 107 innings pitched. So quite a formidable task.

We defeated Louisville in May at Louisville, 6-2, but we'll have our work cut out for us on Sunday. Louisiville had a super season though and finished No.6 in the country. They are 49-16 and coming off a sweep of East Carolina in the Super Regional. Detmers pitched last Friday Night in a 14-1 Cardinals victory and went 7, gave up 5 hits, 1 run with 2 walks and 6 K’s.

Gotta pitch well, defend pretty much flawlessly, and hit in crucial spots, with men on. We need to get men on first. Need Austin to lead the way and JJ, Ethan, Stephen and Philip, all our RBI guys, to come through. A long ball or 2 or 3 would be tremendous. Our whole lineup with Pat DeMarco, Harrison Ray, Ty Duvall and Julian Infante, who was tremendous against Duke, is capable of doing damage. We face a tough left hander, so we’ll have to bare down against him.

The winner of our game vs Louisville will play the winner of the Auburn (38-26) -Mississippi State (51-13) game on Tuesday at 6 PM CT on ESPN.

So exciting times for our baseball team and the Vanderbilt brethren.

As Coach Mason says, and he now has 8 impressive commits for the 2020 recruiting class with very possibly more to follow this weekend in what could be an outstanding class which I'll talk about Monday along with baseball, "God bless and Let's Ride." 

The 119th Open

119th U.S. Open

Pebble Beach Golf Links, 7,075 yards, par 71

2 time Defending champion, Brooks Koepka, Won at Erin Hills (Wisconsin) in 2017 and at Shinnecock Hills in 2018.

2019 Masters Champion, Tiger Woods

2019 PGA Champion, Koepka

Weather, Really nice, 72 Thursday, 74 Friday, 67 Saturday, 68 Sunday. No rain expected. Winds 9-15 Thursday, 8-13 Friday, 8-12 Saturday, 6-8 Sunday.

TV: Thursday-Friday, 11:30 AM-6:30 PM CT, Fox Sports 1, 6:30-9:30 PM CT FOX. Saturday, 11 AM-9 PM CT, FOX. Sunday, 1-9 PM CT, FOX

Key holes

No.7, 109 yards, par 3

Depending on the wind, this can be anywhere from a sand wedge to a 6 iron, though maybe in the case of Koepka and Dustin Johnson, an 8 or 9 iron when everybody else is hitting a 6 iron. The small green is guarded by 6 bunkers, large and small, with the most hazardous obstacle the ocean to the right and behind the green. One of the most classic major championship par 3’s in golf history.

No. 8, 428 yards, par 4

This is Pebble’s version of Amen corner, 8,9 and 10. On 8, the tee shot is usually a 3 wood or hybrid for the longer hitters to a fairway that runs out to a cliff going straight into the ocean at 275 yards. The approach is a challenging one, over the ocean to a small green that slopes severely from back to front. There are 2 bunkers in back of the green if a player overcooks it, and a bunker short of the green assuming the shot clears the ocean.

No.9 526 yards, par 4

Wind is a big factor on this hole, a very long par 4. The Pacific runs along the entire right side of the hole. The best drive sets the player up for a mid iron to the green. If wind is blowing left to right that could spell trouble for players who cut it. But all of them know how to draw it too, but a major challenge with the wind nonetheless. The second shot is usually off a sidehill lie adding to the difficulty of the shot. There is a gully and 2 bunkers short and to the left. They could come into play if the wind is in the player’s face or they hit their drives into the rough off the tee. This is a U.S. Open so the rough will be up, around 3 inches in spots. One of the Golf Channel commentators, I believe it was Brandel Chamblee, said the players will struggle if they’re on the sides of the greens because it is really thick, and sticky in the rough and chipping could be a nightmare off the green. So hitting the green is at a premium at Pebble Beach.

No.10, 495 yards, par 4

The ocean again runs along the entire right side of this hole and the fairway slopes severely towards the Pacific. The green is another small green at Pebble. The greens on Pebble average 3,500 square feet. At Bethpage Black for the PGA Championship, they averaged 5,500 square feet. There is a steep drop off to the beach on the right and bunkers catching anything long and left. The green slopes severely towards the ocean. These are Poa annua greens which are tricky to read, and can be slower, though with the drier conditions this week, they could be quicker, stimping about 11 1/2-12.

No.17, 208 yards, par 3

This historic hole is where Jack Nicklaus hit the pin with a 1 iron that led to his victory at the 1972 Open, and where Tom Watson chipped in for birdie in 1982 to win that Open over Nicklaus. It typically plays right into the Pacific wind to an hourglass green protected by a massive bunker in the front and smaller bunkers over the green. Key hole on Sunday if you want to win it all.

No. 18, 543 yards, par 5

A picturesque closing hole. The Pacific runs down the entire left side of the hole. If the competitor pulls his drive or has too much draw on the ball, “Foget about it. “ A birdie is challenging as the competitor needs to hit the middle of the fairway clear of the 2 trees right in the center. If the player is right on his second shot there is a tree overhanging in front of the green that is troublesome. There is also a deep bunker on the right side that is also a problem with a bad approach. The green is tricky with slope and not that wide. Depending on how tough the USGA has the course set up, a par might win it for the 119th champion.

Winner

I was thinking Jordan Spieth earlier this week, even coming into today. Spieth has been trending well lately, but listening to him in an interview, he’s too uptight right now. He’s his own worst enemy on the golf course, he’s too negative. Just has a poor attitude right now. I’m not taking him anymore. I don’t see Dustin winning, though he’ll be in contention. Can’t seem to close deals at majors. Rickie Fowler, that would be a negative. Bryson DeChambeau has a shot.

But what tilted the winner for me was what I heard on Live From the U.S. Open on the Golf Channel last night. Rory was the first one complaining about the U.S. Open the past several years, then Tiger was whining about it and Mickelson was the worst. He said the USGA has messed it up all 29 years he’s played, unless it rains. He said they’ll do it again. Cry me a river, Mickelson, Tiger and Rory. You have a privilege that not too many people have and that’s doing something you really enjoy and getting paid a lot of money to do it if you’re successful. Nobody wants to hear that complaining. Mickelson has no room to complain after last year’s total lack of competitive spirit and totally low classed move when he hit a ball that he putted that was still rolling down the hill of the green at Shinnecock in the Open. Then he told the media and people watching, “If you don’t like it, tough it out.” The media and viewers weren’t the problem, it was the little whiner Mickelson, who couldn’t keep his composure enough to play within the rules. I’ve changed my opinion of him completely since then. Not a big fan of the crier. He’s kind of like Urban Meyer really. Just a whiner. He won’t win.

My pick sealed it when he responded to their whining this way. He said,

“Everybody has to play the same course. Everybody needs to hit fairways and greens, If you put it in the fairway and hit greens there’s no reason to complain. Obviously, they’re not doing what they’re supposed to do. Nobody wants to hear excuses.”

Give me a 3 peat

Brooks Koepka

Photo, Golf Digest

Photo, Golf Digest

Vanderbilt Baseball, Football, Brandt Sneds, MLB draftees and award finalists unplugged

Game today at 5 PM CT vs Duke in the Super Regional. RHP Drake Fellows on the hill for us. Drake is 12-0 (wow) with a 3.87 ERA and he's been exceptional recently. Just a warrior for us. Drake will be opposed by Duke RHP Ben Gross (7-4, 4.09). ESPN2 will televise. Weather looks iffy in Nashville right now, so not positive game will start on time, but hopefully we can get it in tonight and have success. Saturday's game will be at 8 PM CT and televised by ESPNU. Kumar will be on the hill for us. Kumar is 9-5 with a 3.91, and, like Drake, has been spectacular. Kumar will square off with Duke RHP Bryce Jarvis (5-1, 4.06). Sunday's game is scheduled for a 2 PM CT start with pitchers to be determined. For us it'll be Mason or Rabes. Hoping it's Mason. Really trust Hick.

Brandt Sneds shot a 60 today at the RBC Canadian Open at Hamilton Golf and Country Club in Hamilton, Ontario, the eastern part of Canada. Brandt blistered the course with 8 birdies and an eagle. It was phenomenal. Brandt started on the back and shot 31, then added a cool 29 on the front for a 10 under par 60 round. The par on the course is 70. Brandt had the lead at -11, but is now a shot back of Scott Brown who is at -12 through 17. I picked Brandt to win the tournament on my all sports blog, so pumped for Brandt and the prediction. Brandt won this tournament in 2013 when it was played at Glen Abbey Golf Club, but according to a friend of mine who is Canadian, this course is much better and one of the top 5 courses in Canada. Just had a really good feeling about Brandt coming in. Hoping he can pull this off and have a ton of momentum heading into next week's 119th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach where he won the AT&T Pebble Beach pro am twice in 2013 and 2015. Loving this from Brandt. Will keep you posted.

Coach Mason got a huge commit from 85 3 star outside linebacker Griffin Lampton. Griffin is 6'4", 220 and posted 14 sacks his junior year for Palm Beach Central High School. Watched Griffin's film. He's impressive. Just a dominating force rushing the passer and very good in stopping the run on the perimeter. Saw several tackles for loss too. Griffin will be playing his senior season at the great St. Thomas Aquinas School in Fort Lauderdale, FL. That school produces studs and that's exactly what Griffin is.

Griffin joins 88 3 star quarterback Ken Seals, a 6'3", 203 pound commit from Weatherford, Texas and a very impressive player. Also, 85 3 star wide receiver Logan Kyle from Memorial High School in Tomball, TX, and 84 3 star offensive tackle Bradley Ashmore (6'6", 280) from Neptune Beach, FL. Duncan U Fletcher High School, are in the fold.

All 4 are impressive players. I'm hearing we might be getting Malik Langham in the fold for the 2019 class. He is a 4 star defensive end from Alabama who signed with Florida but is getting out of the letter of intent and coming our way. He is asking for a waiver to play immediately. Coach Mason is really loading up the defensive line. Loving what DMase is doing. We're in the weight room, the freshman are on campus and working out, and football season sounds exciting.

Right now we've got a baseball series to think about. If you didn't know, JJ Bleday was drafted by the Marlins as the 4th overall pick, Drake went to the Padres in the 6th round, Philip Clarke was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 9th round, Ethan Paul went to the Pirates in the 9th, Stephen Scott was drafted by the Red Sox in the 10th round, Zach King went to Miami in the 13th round, Jackson Gillis was picked by the Brewers in the 13th round, Joe Gilbilot (16th, Rays), AJ Franklin (17th Kansas City), Patrick Raby (17th, Reds), Pat DeMarco (17th Yankees), Ty Duvall (25th, Oakland) and Julian Infante (36th, Miami) were all selected in the draft. That's exceptional. That ties an SEC record with 13 players picked in the MLB draft. We join the 2016 Texas A&M team and the 2018 Kentucky team with the most SEC players ever selected in a single year. Says a lot about Tim Corbin's recruiting and our players' character and hard work.

Tyler Brown has been nominated for the Stopper of the Year award given out by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Tyler is one of 6 finalists. The winner will be announced Saturday, June 15th at a news conference at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha at 10 AM CT, the day the CWS starts. 

JJ Bleday, who is already one of 4 finalists for the Golden Spikes Award for the best player in the country, has been named as one of 5 finalists for the Dick Howser Trophy, which is also voted on by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. JJ is one of 5 finalists. The award is for character, leadership, desire and competitiveness. That winner will be also announced Saturday, June 15th at 10 AM CT at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.

The Golden Spikes winner will be announced around that time as well.

Big weekend. Great stuff from Brandt and DMase and awesome stuff from our draftees and Tyler and JJ. 

Will have much more tomorrow including reports on our major leaguers and of course a recap of tonight's game.

The 151st Belmont Stakes preview and prediction RBC Canadian Open prediction

The 151st Belmont Stakes commences at 5:48 PM CT on Saturday with NBC televising. The weather looks perfect, high 77 and sunny.

Here are the post positions, horses, trainers, jockeys and odds. 10 horses are entered for the 1 3/4 mile race.

  1. Joevia, trainer, Greg Sacco, jockey, Jose’Lezcano, 30-1

  2. Everfast, trainer, Dale Romans, Jockey, Luis Saez, 12-1

  3. Master Fencer, trainer, Koichi Tsunoda, Jockey, Julien Laparoux, 8-1

  4. Tax, Trainer, Danny Gargan, Jockey, Irad Ortiz Jr., 15-1

  5. Bourbon War, Trainer Mark Henning, Jockey, Mike Smith, 12-1

  6. Spinoff, Trainer, Todd Pletcher, Jockey, Javier Castellano, 15-1

  7. Sir Winston, Trainer, Mark Casse, Jockey, Jose Rosario, 12-1

  8. Intrepid Heart, Trainer, Todd Pletcher, Jockey, John Velazquez, 10-1

  9. War of Will, Trainer, Mark Casse, Jockey, Tyler Gaffalione, 2-1

  10. Tacitus, Trainer, Bill Mott, Jockey, Jose Ortiz, 9-5

Prediction

I’m going to take the horse that finished 3rd in the Derby. With the reading I’ve done on the horse and just looking at the horse, this horse is built for the 1 3/4 mile distance. He won the Tampa Bay Derby, and the Wood Memorial. The jockey on board him, Jose Ortiz, won the Belmont 2 years ago (2017) on Tapwrit. I’m taking Ortiz, trainer Bill Mott and:

Tacitus

Like Tacitus to take the third jewel in the Triple Crown (Photo, Kentucky Derby).        Prediction for the RBC Canadian      I’m going to take the 38 year old from Nashville this week. He won this event in 2013, and I like him this year after he shot 67, 68 and 69 the last 3 days at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth 2 weeks ago. He has also won the AT&T Pebble Beach (2013 and 2015) where the 119th U.S. Open will be played next week.      Give me      Sneds

Like Tacitus to take the third jewel in the Triple Crown (Photo, Kentucky Derby).

Prediction for the RBC Canadian

I’m going to take the 38 year old from Nashville this week. He won this event in 2013, and I like him this year after he shot 67, 68 and 69 the last 3 days at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth 2 weeks ago. He has also won the AT&T Pebble Beach (2013 and 2015) where the 119th U.S. Open will be played next week.

Give me

Sneds

Like Brandt Snedeker at the RBC (Photo, PGA Championship).

Like Brandt Snedeker at the RBC (Photo, PGA Championship).

Baseball tonight, Stack lands another '19 commit

Our No.2 Vanderbilt baseball team squares off with Ohio State tonight at the Hawk at 6. The game will be televised by ESPN2.

We are the SEC regular season and tournament champions for the first time since our great David Price-led 2007 team. We are 49-10 overall. Ohio State, winners of the Big Ten Tournament, 3-1 over Nebraska at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha last Sunday, is 35-26.

Probable starters are RHP Drake Fellows for us vs RHP Garrett Burhenn for them. Drake is coming off a spectacular performance in the 3rd round of the SEC Tournament where he shutout a potent hitting Mississippi State team over 6 innings, giving up only 5 hits, while walking 1 and striking out 8. It was a warrior-like performance from our junior. We won the game 1-0 over Mississippi State’s vaunted left hander Ethan Small. Drake is now 11-0 with a 4.05 ERA. Burhenn is 6-3 with a 3.53 ERA, so he’ll be challenging.

Right fielder JJ Bleday has been named one of the 4 finalists for the 42nd Golden Spikes Award. The award honors the best amateur baseball player in the United States. The other 3 finalists are Adley Rutschman of Oregon State, Noah Song of Navy and Andrew Vaughn of California. Vaughn won the award last year. Bleday leads the nation in home runs with 26 and slugging percentage at .752, a spectacular percentage. Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers leads MLB with a .754 slugging % and has hit 20 homers and driven in 52. So JJ is right there with the best in the majors. JJ and Ethan Paul lead the team and the SEC in RBIs with 67 in 59 games. That’s sensational.

The winner of the Golden Spikes will be announced Thursday, June 13th at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha during “Baseball Tonight” on ESPN2 prior to the Detroit Tigers-KC Royals game. Hoping the great JJ can capture this coveted award.

So huge one tonight. Drake needs to be the bulldog he always is, we need to defend well, and hit with runners in scoring position. A couple of long ones wouldn’t hurt either.

The winner of tonight’s game plays the winner of No.2 seed Indiana State (41-16) and No.3 McNeese (35-24) at 6 PM Saturday. The loser will play the loser of game 1 at noon Saturday. Indiana State and McNeese will square off at noon today.

Stack adds another to ‘19 haul

Coach Jerry Stackhouse added another player to his impressive 2019 class by getting a commitment from Croatian big man Oton Jankovic.

Oton is 6’9”, 215 and an 88 3 star. Watched Oton’s tape, he’s a highly skilled player. Typical European with superb fundamentals, shooting, both inside and beyond the arc, boxing out on rebounding, setting screens and passing. Awesome kid too. Read his interview with Vandysports and he’s super. Wants to get better at his rebounding, but seems like a hard working, focused young guy who excels in the classroom and is serious about both academics and basketball. He’s ecstatic to play for Coach Stackhouse. He’s a good scorer inside and can stroke it from distance. He’ll add strength in the weight room, so his rebounding should be good next season. Oton played at prestigious Montverde Academy in Florida last year and was pursued by St. Louis, Georgia Tech and Wisconsin also.

Oton joins 93 4 star power forward Dylan Disu ( 6’8”, 185, Plugerville, Texas), 89 3 star point guard Scotty Pippen Jr (6’0”, 160, Sierra Canyon, California), 88 3 star small forward Kenyon Martin (6’6”, 195, Sierra Canyon, CA.), 87 3 star small forward Jordan Wright (6’6”, 200, Baton Rouge, LA.) and 98 4 star transfer shooting guard D.J. Harvey (6’6” 185). D.J. transferred to us from Notre Dame and will have to sit out the 2019-20 season but will be eligible for the 2020-21 season. He will have 2 years to play for us. He is a tremendous shooter and overall player.

So Stack is setting us up for a very bright future. I think we can be highly competitive next season and we’ll be a hard-nosed, lunch pale like team that will make you work to score. If we can score the ball with Saben, Aaron and Ejike and some of the other guys along with our new players, we could be dangerous. Like the way we look in the years to come and Stack is in on some awesome players for 2020.

Football

We will open the season on Saturday, August 31st @ Vanderbilt Stadium at 6:30 PM CT versus the Georgia Bulldogs. The game will be televised by the SEC Network. Georgia will most likely be a top 5 to 7 team in the country, but I like the players Coach Mason has added in recruiting and transfers. We need Deuce Wallace or Riley Neal to step up at quarterback. If we can get excellent play from one or both of those guys, though we’ll need to go with 1 quarterback in my opinion, if you have 2 quarterbacks you have no quarterback as the old saying goes, we have the weapons around the qb in Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Kalija Lipscomb, Jared Pinkney and a slew of wide receivers to make explosive plays. We’ve got some other pretty solid running backs. I’m really high on Ja’Veon Marlow. He can be exceptional in the backfield. I like Amir Abdul-Rahman, he will be a sensational wide receiver, and we’ll have former 4 star Cam Johnson back at wide receiver who was out with an injury most of last season and is a superb talent, and the awesome C.J. Bolar. We’ll have weaponry. The line needs to shape up this summer and we need a 10 man rotation, but there is talent led by left tackle Devin Cochran (6’7”, 315). There is plenty of size and physicality up front. Coach Cameron Norcross is a very good developer of the O line, so I expect us to be strong up front. Defense will have some new faces, but experience as well. I really like our secondary and defensive front though. Linebacker has talent led by Dimitri Moore, Caleb Peart and Alston Orji. We’ve got some good players at LB, and we’re loaded in the defensive backfield. Coach Mason has added a lot of players to the defensive front, so I expect us to be pretty good in the trenches too.

Will have more on football as the summer progresses.

Philip Clarke and the amazing Commodores, Men's Golf in great shape after day 3

Philip Clarke with a phenomenally clutch line drive single up the middle scoring Austin Martin from 3rd as the No.2 ranked Commodores won both the SEC regular season title and the SEC Championship with an 11-10 walk off victory over the Ole Miss Rebels.

Philip hit the first pitch he saw from Ole Miss reliever Ryan Olenek and drove it on a line right up the middle. It was a no doubter.

So many heroes. Harrison Ray with 3 doubles and a spectacular play at 2nd to get a crucial out late in the game. Austin Martin with a couple of amazing catches on pop flies that looked very difficult. The second one he was falling on his back, hit the turf hard and still made the play. Jake Eder came in an gave us great middle relief, and Tyler Brown was his usual stellar self in 3 innings of no run work. Just an amazing effort by our team. We finish the season at 50-10 and now wait for the announcement tomorrow at 11AM CT on ESPNU on what seed we'll be and who will be hosting at the Hawk for the NCAA Regional this coming weekend.

Just amazing perseverance and fortitude by our baseball team. Down 6-0, then 9-1 early, we kept fighting back. Pat DeMarco with a huge 3 run shot to cut the lead to 9-8 in the 4th.

Spectacular stuff from this elite baseball team. The postseason couldn't more exciting coming up. D1 Baseball has us as a No.2 seed and UCLA at No.1. I don't know how we can't be the No.1 overall seed with this resume, but whatever. We'll show up wherever the committee puts us. Just love the spirit and toughness mentality on this team. What a group. Now it gets really fun. Will let you know where we are tomorrow as soon as it's announced.

Men's Golf is in 6th place after day 3 at the NCAA Championships at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville. Played well today shooting -`1 as a team. Reid Davenport shot -2 and Will Gordon shot -1. Good stuff from the team. We now advance to the 15 team fourth round tomorrow with the top 8 making the Match play which begins Tuesday. Great stuff from Coach Scott Limbaugh and the team.

Today's huge semifinal game, MLB guys doing spectacularly well, Men's Golf team hanging tough in NCAA's

Kumar Rocker takes the hill for our No.2 Vanderbilt Commodores (47-10) vs.  No.16 LSU (37-23) Game time is approximately 3:30 PM CT or later on the SEC Network with Tom Hart, Kyle Parkinson and Chris Burke on the call, great crew.

LSU is red hot after a 4-3 victory over Auburn Thursday scoring 2 in the bottom of the 9th, then blasting MS. State last night 12-2. They have won the SEC Tournament 12 times, so they're extremely dangerous. They HAVE used a lot of pitchers though. I looked at the 4 games they've played, their only loss is to State, 6-5 in 17 innings Wednesday Night, and the best guesstimate I can come up with is righty Devin Fontenot. Fontenot is 5-1 with a 3.79 ERA. In 40.1 innings, he has walked 20 and struck out 39. He is a sophomore.

Kumar, a freshman, is 7-5 with a 4.32 ERA, but has been terrific since just past the halfway mark of the season. In 66.2 innings pitched, he has issued just 15 walks and struck out 68. Kumar can hit mid 90's and throws a terrific slider and change up. Feel good about our star freshman on the hill. It's going to be tough, this team has a rich tradition at the tournament, but their pitching staff is pretty thin right now, so that works to our advantage. The winner plays the Georgia-Ole Miss winner tomorrow at 2 PM CT on ESPN2. Should be quite a classic today. Ole Miss is leading UGA, 5-3 in the bottom of the 6th.

Dansby Swanson had a spectacular night last night in the Braves 5-2 victory over the Cardinals. Dans homered to left in the top of the 6th and homered in the 8th, 410 feet over the central field wall. It was phenomenal. Dans now has 10 homers and 35 RBIs. He's hitting .370 in his last 7 days. The man is getting hot. The Braves are playing very well at 29-23 and 1 1/2 games behind the Phillies which are 30-21. Braves at Cards tonight at 6:15 on FOX.

Walker Buehler pitched another gem last night in another Dodgers victory, this one 10-2 over the Pirates. Walker went 6, gave up 5 hits, 1 earned run, with 1 walk and 6 K's. His 97-98 MPH heat was cookin, and he combined that with an excellent change up and slider. Walker threw 99 pitches with 74 for strikes against 23 balls, more than a 3:1 strike to ball ratio. Walk is now 5-1 with a 3.58 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning) which is phenomenal. Anything under 1.10 is excellent. Walk has walked 11 and struck out 52. Just under a 5:1 strikeout to walk ratio. The Dodgers are 33-18, and 6 games ahead of the Padres, which are 27-24.

Just some seriously good stuff from Dans and Walk. Bryan Reynolds had a hit last night for the Pirates in their loss to Walker and the Dodgers. He's having an awesome year hitting .312. The Pirates are playing well at 25-23 and 3 1/2 back of the Cubs and 2 back of the Brewers in the NL Central.

Tony got in the game, but didn't hit last night for the 'Stros. Tony is hitting .239, but getting better. He's an awesome player. The Stros defeated the Red Sox, 4-3. The Astros are 34-18 and 7 up on the Rangers.

David Price on the mound tonight at Houston. David is 2-2 with a 3.29 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP, also excellent. David is so accurate. In 41 innings of work, Dave has walked only 10 and K'd 46, almost a 5:1 strikeout to walk ratio, which is also superb. David is coming off a 12-2 victory over Toronto Monday Night. The Red Sox are 27-24 in third, 6 back of the Yankees (32-17). The Rays are 2nd at 29-19. David faces Brad Peacock of the Astros tonight at 6:15. David will face Brad Peacock of the Astros who is 5-2 with a 3.59 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP, so he's a tough opponent. Trust Dave though. 

Mike Minor on the hill for the Texas Rangers tonight. Mike is having an awesome season with a 5-3 record, a 2.64 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. In 64.2 innings, Mike has walked 20 and K'd 67. He's coming off a 10-9 victory over Seattle in which he actually pitched well before the bullpen kind of struggled. Mike got the victory going 6, giving up 6 hits, 2 runs, both earned, with 1 walk and 11 K's. Mike has been spectacular this season. He's hitting 95 with his fastball and his curve and changeup are close out pitches as well as his fastball. Mike very accurate. The Rangers are playing well at 25-23, 7 back of the Astros.Mike faces Tyler Skaggs and the LA Angels tonight. Skaggs is 4-4 with a 5.01 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP.

Sonny Gray pitches Monday versus the Pirates at home. Sonny had an awesome outing @ the very good Brewers Tuesday night going 6, giving up 5 hits, 0 runs, with 4 walks and 9 K's in the Reds' 3-0 victory. Sonny moved to 1-4 on the season, with a 3.78 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. He pitched well Tuesday and that's a lot to build on. Sonny has walked 20 and struck out 57. If he can keep his control in good shape, Sonny will have an excellent season. The Reds are 23-27, but playing pretty well lately and only 6 1/2 back of the Cubs in the NL Central.

Our No.4 Men's Golf team is presently in 13th place after finishing day 2 at even par as a team. We had a tough day yesterday at the Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark, shooting +19, but we came back today and played well. Harrison Ott shot -1, 71, Patrick Martin and John Augenstein shot even par 72, and Will Gordon shot +1 73.

The top 15 teams after round 3 tomorrow qualify for the final round of stroke play on Monday. After round 4, the top 8 teams compete in match play which begins Tuesday and the championship match is Wednesday. Got our work cut out for us, but fought hard today and had a good day. There are several teams left on the course including several behind us. So need another solid day tomorrow. No.1 Oklahoma State leads at -10. 

French Open preview and predictions

The 123rd edition of the French Open played at Roland Garros commences tomorrow. The Big Three Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are the heavyweights in the men’s field. On the women’s side, Serena is playing, but I don’t consider her a favorite. I’ll tell you whom I like in the women’s side shortly.

The Men’s and Women’s Final will both be televised by NBC, with the women’s side starting Saturday, June 8th at 7 AM CT. on NBC The Men’s Final will commence Sunday, June 9th at 8 AM CT on NBC.

Men’s Semifinals

I like Rafa over Fed on the bottom half of the draw in straight sets

Nadal over Federer 6-3, 6-4, 7-5

I’ll take Djoker in the other semifinal over Juan Martin del Potro

Djokovic over Del Potro 7-5, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3

Men’s Final

It’s hard to go against the 32 year old Manacor Balaeric Islands, Spain. This is a tough out in Djoker though. Rafa has won 11 French Opens and 17 majors, and turns 33 on June 3rd. Djoker, the 32 year old (turned 32 on May 22nd) from Belgrade, Serbia has won the last 3 slams, Wimbledon, the U.S. and the Australian. He has 15 slams to his credit and has won the Australian 7 times. His only victory at Roland Garros is in 2016, where he defeated a struggling Nadal, at the time, in the quarters. Both are still chasing Roger Federer’s all time record of 20 Grand Slam titles. Rafa defeated Djoker in the Italian Open final 2 weeks ago, 6-0, 4-6, 6-1. I like Rafa to emerge victorious for the 12th time at Roland Garros, but with a lot of resistance from Djoker.

Nadal over Djokovic 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5

Women’s Final

I like 27 year old Karolina Pliskova, who just defeated Johanna Konta of Australia to capture the Italian Open championship 2 weeks ago, to finally break through and win her first Slam. I see the young Czech coming through in the clutch here after reaching the semis of the Australian this year already, reaching the semis at the French in 2017, and the final of the U.S.Open in 2016. She has a very good serve and is a consistent player on the court. She’s very steady with her ground strokes, has an excellent serve and has a good, serene mentality on the court. I’ll take Karolina over a compatriot of hers from the Czech Republic. 29 year old Petra Kvitova, who has won Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014. This will be a battle. I like Pliskovato to break through in Paris..

Karolina Pliskova over Petra Kvitova 7-5, 4-6, 7-5

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).