Jason Esposito enjoyed another fine week at the plate, as the Commodore bats came to life and upped their team batting average to .316. Photo: Mike Rapp, VandySports.com.
It was the best of times and the worst of times for Vanderbilt this week. Riding high after being named the #1 team in the nation by the National Baseball Writers Association, Vandy started off the week going gangbusters while continuing a scoreless innings pitched streak to 32 innings, fueled by three consecutive shutouts on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. They were also on cruise control with an 8-4 lead heading to the 8th inning on Sunday, but a bullpen that entered the day with a 1.77 ERA full-on collapsed in that inning, yielding 5 earned runs on 5 hits and 2 walks. The high experienced from a truly dominant start to the week week, outscoring opponents 31-4 to that point, ended with a very demoralizing loss.
Despite the poor taste left by that failure, Tony Kemp in the post game interview seemed to keep somewhat upbeat about a series win being a series win. That was the case, despite falling to the dreaded To Be Announced bullpen day for Mississippi State. All told, Vanderbilt still enjoyed a fine week, going 3-1 and should stay in the 2nd to 3rd ranked position in all major polls, though they will likely cede their NCBWA top ranking back to Florida, who swept LSU in Baton Rouge.
The Immediate Progression – Pitching Depth
This year’s Vanderbilt squad features a depth of quality arms unlike any seen in the Coaches Tim Corbin and Derek Johnson era. While there have been many stellar staffs, including the 2004 squad that earned Johnson the National Pitching Coach of the Year award and the 2007 squad that featured first team All-Americans David Price and Casey Weathers, I’m not sure any can compete with the extraordinary embarrassment of riches the 2011 team features.
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