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Posts Tagged ‘Baseball’

Vandy Baseball Season Prospectus: Trust The Sweat

September 28th, 2012 2 comments

It’s that fantastic time of year again when the Fall ball thwack of the BBCOR bat can be heard over at Hawkins Field and you can walk down and smell the fresh cut grass… wait… belay that last part. In an summer that saw some outstanding performances, a high level recruiting class and a new recruiting coordinator, the biggest change on West End is the installation of artificial turf in both Dudley Field and the Hawk. Coach Tim Corbin took some time to meet with the press today and discussed a variety of topics including the new field.

Click through to watch the video and for some preliminary thoughts, including the announcement that Collegiate Baseball magazine named the incoming VandyBoys the top recruiting class nationally. I’ll also set forth what I hope the schedule will be for my annual preview of the Commodores Baseball squad. Read more…

Vandy Baseball: The Road to Omaha

June 1st, 2012 Comments off

Accompanying the VandyBoys strong finish were multiple appearances from Brian Miller’s rescue beaver, Chance. Photo courtesy of Mike Rapp,

So, I’m just a bad VandyBoys blogger. During the month-plus since my last post, the Vanderbilt baseball team has undergone a transformation in which a pitching staff matured and leaders emerged. Gone were the 1-7 and 7-15 starts and the Commodores finished with a flurry, including a 16-4 run down the stretch of the season.

All told, the Dores came up huge winning their last five games (two at LSU and a home sweep of the Rebel Black Bears) to ensure a record over .500 entering the SEC tournament at Hoover. They topped that off by getting to the tournament final undefeated, before being shut out by Mississippi State’s ridiculous pitching staff. It was a stellar run that included two victories over nemesis Florida, who had entered Hoover with a seven game winning streak over Coach Corbin’s boys. So what did we learn and see from this squad?

We saw TJ Pecoraro return early from Tommy John surgery and throw back to back complete games in the last two weekends of the season. We saw Connor Harrell emerge from a slump and start mashing the ball all over the park. We saw Tony Kemp run rampant on the basepaths and single-handedly cause a couple Ole Miss pitchers ulcers. We saw Sam Selman emerge into a legitimate lefty ace. We saw a stuffed animal (oops, sorry, a totally real Canadian beaver that Brian Miller found on the side of the road… completely not a gift from his mom) help inspire fear in the eyes of the Crimson Tide Rally Penguin and Florida’s silly pet goldfish. [You can follow Chance at @VU_RallyBeaver and Alabama’s mascot at @BamaRllyPenguin]

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Vandy Baseball: Sixth Week Behind, Week Ahead

March 30th, 2012 Comments off

The Commodores finally got of the schnide on Saturday with their first SEC win on a walk off single by Conrad Gregor. Photo credit: Mike Rapp,

From the darkest of moments, the Vanderbilt season has seemingly turned a corner. Although it would be hard to imagine another Omaha run and the NCAA playoffs still seem like a long shot, the VandyBoys do appear to be having fun out there. After a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Georgia on Friday, the Commodores erupted upon Conrad Gregor’s game winning single on Saturday night. Visiting Bulldog fans might have wondered what could have caused a near dog pile type celebration, but after seeing the frustration of a 7-15 record at the time and a season with so much promise in which so many things have gone wrong, the raucous victory lap was long overdue.

The Dores have a long way to go to get truly right, but it was a great first step and a pair of nail-biter victories over the Bulldogs were complimented by an easy midweek win over Tennessee Tech. More importantly, for the first time this season, Vanderbilt appears to be really having fun out there and is playing a more fundamentally sound version of baseball.

The Immediate Progression – Getting to .501

Eligibility for the SEC playoffs has been expanded to ten teams in 2012. Currently, only one team seems certain to be excluded. The Alabama Crimson Tide are 9-16 and just 1-5 in SEC play with an RPI of 135. While Vanderbilt is just a game better on the season (and, more troubling, has yet to win any of their seven road games – though six have been against NCAA’s elite Florida and Stanford squads), the Commodores schedule appears softer than the Tide from hereon out. So it seems that Vanderbilt will likely compete with Tennessee (15-10, 2-4) and an injury-plagued Mississippi State (17-9, 2-4) squad for the lower end of Hoover eligibility this year.

Now, it’s entirely possible that the VandyBoys could either click on full in SEC play – after all, the talent is there – or completely fall apart. My guess is that we end up somewhere in the middle of that road. The starting pitching has certainly come around, and if TJ Pecoraro can regain his feel for pitching and have enough endurance to start, Vanderbilt should feel confident in a Sunday win each week (especially with Drew VerHagen and Will Clinard sharing closing duties).

So what would Vanderbilt need to do to be eligible for post-season play?

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Vandy Baseball: Fourth and Fifth Week Behind, Week Ahead

March 23rd, 2012 Comments off

I’m getting quite behind in the columns due to just not having quite enough time to keep this up to date.  I’d be lying if the 7-14 start to the season didn’t have something to do with that.

Since I last posted, the VandyBoys had a rough go of it in Florida (as expected) and lost a heart breaker to Evansville on Tuesday.  With 33 games left on the regular season schedule, qualifying for NCAA post-season play is now looking more and more unlikely.

The Immediate Progression — Where the Season Goes From Here

To be eligible for a Regional, a team must be at least one game over .500 after the conference tournament in Hoover.  Sitting at seven games under, Vandy can’t feel comfortable entering Hoover unless they’re already at that point, necessitating something along the lines of a 21-12 finish to the regular season (permitting a 1-2 record at Hoover).

Ty Beede will be back in the Saturday starter role this weekend against Georgia. Vanderbilt needs him to come up big against All-SEC righty Michael Pallazone of the Bulldogs. Photo Credit: Mike Rapp,

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Vandy Baseball: Week Behind, Week Ahead Intermission

March 16th, 2012 Comments off

Riley Reynolds had quite the day on Wednesday, hammering his first career homerun and winning the #RileySonnyHomeRunChallenge over Sonny Gray. Photo by Mike Rapp,

I’ve been busy of late and it’s been hard to stay on my regular weekly schedule for these. I’m going to try to catch up again this weekend after the Florida series and cheering my lungs out for Stevie Thunder and the #VUnit in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

The big news for the weekend is Ty Beede reentering the weekend rotation, pitching on Sunday in place of Sam Selman. That sets the matchups against consensus #1 Florida as

  • Friday, 6 CT — LHP Kevin Ziomek (2-1, 3.09) vs. RHP Hudson Randall (2-0, 3.65);
  • Saturday, 12 CT — RHP Drew VerHagen (2-1, 3.93) vs. LHP Brian Johnson (2-0, 4.12); and
  • Sunday, 12 CT — RHP Beede (0-2, 7.24) vs. RHP Jonathon Crawford (1-1, 5.71).

Saturday’s game will air on CSS/, while Friday and Sunday are viewable in HD by subscribing monthly to covered by CBS All-Access).

In the meantime, how about Riley Reynolds. The career .317 hitter had no homeruns (and few balls that even threatened to leave the park) in his first 622 plate appearances as a Commodore. In appearance number 623, he changed all that by putting a charge into a ball to right on Wednesday night against Sienna. His homerun put the exclamation point on a much needed midweek sweep in which the Commodores finally started to look like the Omaha-bound team they were a year ago.

Click through for video of the homer, Riley’s post-game interview and a look back to 2011 with the Baseball Banquet video package produced by Will Hinson (@TheVUCount). Read more…

Vanderbilt Baseball 2012: Second and Third Week Behind, Week Ahead

March 6th, 2012 Comments off

Spencer Navin was the catalyst for a Vanderbilt sweep over the weekend. Photo credit: Mike Rapp,

A brutal week at work kept me from my bed, my social life and my blogging activity. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have time to follow the VandyBoys games, but I wasn’t able to do last week’s Week Behind, Week Ahead. As a result, I’m giving you a double dose today, though I’ll keep the recaps short so as to prevent this from being an entry of whopping proportions.

The last six games were a mix of bad and good. Vanderbilt jumped all over Oakland for the first win of the season midweek. The Dores looked pretty ugly against Oregon, though they weren’t steamrolled as against Stanford. Nevertheless, the poor defense and wildness on the mound led to a similar three game sweep. In the midweek, the Dores looked awful against Louisiana Tech, but righted the ship with a double header and then weekend sweep against URI.

That double header sweep was a big plus for the Dores. Entering the game at six games under .500, the Commodores have to start worrying about eligibility for the NCAA tournament. We saw in 2011 two SEC squads (Auburn and Georgia) have their potential NCAA bids hinge on getting over the .500 mark for their season records. Auburn failed to make it, while Georgia snuck into a bid. Like Vanderbilt, the Bulldogs started off the season rough, before seeing the spinal injury to Johnathan Taylor somehow jumpstart UGA into a change in attitude. While, thankfully, no such incident occurred at the Hawk, one can hope the Dores saw their turnaround in the doubleheader sweep.

The Immediate Progression – Getting Right

Baseball is a funny game. A great team can look great one day and horrible the next. But generally teams build on momentum. After being steamrolled by Stanford, that momentum was all the way on the negative. While an overmatched Oakland squad couldn’t put up much of a fight two Wednesdays ago, the bugaboos reared their ugly head against Oregon. Vandy’s pitchers tried to be too perfect and/or came down with cases of the yips. Walks, hit batsman and 3-1 counts all lead to bad results, and the Commodore staff was allowing far too many leadoff batters to reach. Combine that with an infield defense that has committed 14 errors through 11 games and you have real problems.

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Vanderbilt Baseball 2012: First Week Behind, Week Ahead

February 20th, 2012 Comments off

As with many of the Commodore bats, sophomore slugger Conrad Gregor struggled to get anything going at the plate. (Photo Jimmy Jones)

Vanderbilt kicked off the season before I could finish my season preview, but that’s not going to stop the Week Behind, Week Ahead from going forward on schedule. It would have been nice to have some had positive preview stories to kick off the new year. Instead, Vanderbilt transitioned from perhaps their best season on the diamond into the worst weekend of the Corbin era out West.

The Commodores took their traditional west coast voyage to start the year, a tradition that has seen visits to Arizona State (DeMarini Classic), Stanford , UCLA (Legends Classic) and San Diego in the past four years. The common theme of the sunset trips has been an unpleasant experience at Sunken Diamond field. While the Dores went 1-6 in their trips to Palo Alto (including a 2009 loss to Cal-Berkley), they had a good deal of success in Tucson, Los Angeles and San Diego, not to mention a clean sweep of the Houston Minute Maid Classic in 2007. So perhaps the lesson here is to stop scheduling trips to Palo Alto.

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VandyBoys Preview 2012 – Prelude to a Delayed Release

February 15th, 2012 1 comment

This is the prelude to a full season preview that I hope to release before next weekend.

A series of real world events have strapped me of the time needed to finish my annual preview of the Vanderbilt baseball team. As a result, I’m publishing instead this short weekend preview for the Stanford series.

I still intend to conduct a five-part preview of the (i) newcomers, (ii) pitchers, (iii) position players, (iv) season schedule and (v) future recruiting classes. That said, they likely won’t be done until the home opener next week, at the earliest. I also intend to continue the tradition of the Week Behind, Week Ahead recaps, starting Monday morning.

In the meantime, Vanderbilt has announced the starting rotation for the Stanford series this weekend. Some quick thoughts and a few videos after the jump.

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VU Baseball: Recapping the 2012 Vanderbilt Baseball Banquet

February 4th, 2012 4 comments

Trying out some new technology here tonight. It was the VU Baseball Banquet and the house was packed.  For those out of town fans, the Dores are kind enough to live stream the event.  It isn’t archived on, so I’ve done the next best thing and recapped some live tweeting of the event.

Tim Corbin was a maestro on the stage, showing off an impeccable memory and some sly humor. Look for me to start rolling out my season previews sometime this week.

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Vanderbilt Baseball is Back!

January 27th, 2012 Comments off

Earlier today (Friday the 25th), baseball practices started up across the SEC with Florida and South Carolina kicking off with scrimmages and Vandy having their first practice of the year.  As with last year, I intend to launch of full series of previews… I’ve just yet to get the chance to finish them off. In any respect, there are high expectations with the Dores pulling in preseason rankings of 10 (Baseball America), 11 (Coaches’ Poll) and 12 (NCBWA Poll) in the last week.  Florida is the consensus top team in the land, with South Carolina coming in second or third.

Over the next three weeks I will endeavor to do so before the Commodores kick of the season against All-American rightie Mark Appel and the Stanford Cardinal.  For now, here’s a quick video from today’s first practice of the year.  You’ll note that Coach Corbin’s first priority is working on the “Vanderbunt!”