Tyler Beede and William Dodd won’t forget their first encounter on the baseball diamond.
But each will remember the meeting for different reasons.
Dodd, a sophomore left fielder for Belmont, cranked his first career home run on Tuesday. It so happened to be a grand slam and it came off Beede, Vanderbilt’s right-handed freshman who was drafted in the first round by the Toronto Blue Jays in June. It was the first homer Beede has allowed in college.
The fourth-inning blast put Belmont in front for good and the Bruins hung on for a 6-5 victory at Rose Park. The win snapped Vanderbilt’s six-game winning streak over Belmont (7-5), which included two wins in the NCAA Regional last year before the Commodores reached the College World Series.
“It was very freeing to hit that against this team and to do that for our team,” Dodd said. “It was a big deal. I got a good piece of the ball. I heard [Beede] is pretty good. Twenty-third overall pick. It is a big deal.”
Beede made just his third appearance of the season for Vanderbilt (4-8). He began in the weekend starting rotation but has pitched just twice in relief since due to soreness in his shoulder.
Against Belmont, he entered in the fourth inning, spelling freshman starter Jared Miller, who gave up just one earned run and left with a 3-2 lead. Beede quickly got into a jam with one out as Matt Beaty hit a grounder to the right side. First baseman Andrew Harris raced to it, Beede covered first and the throw beat the runner but Beede dropped the ball. He then proceeded to allow a walk and single to load the bases.
“He made a great play, tossed me it and I took my eyes off of the ball at the last second trying to find the base,” Beede said. “I just missed the ball. My route to first base was bad. Just little mistakes led to that bases loaded at-bat where I made a mistake again with baseball.”
Enter Dodd, who made just his seventh start of the season and was hitting just .125 before Tuesday. But Belmont’s ninth hitter in the lineup didn’t miss this time. On the first pitch, a fastball up and in, he jumped on the ball and sent it over the left field wall and beyond the adjacent bullpen.
“I think he struck it pretty well,” Beede said. “The wind is blowing out but he got all of it. Another mistake but I’ll learn from that one.”
“He hit it good,” Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said. “He’ll probably save that ball for a while.”
That keepsake was retrieved by a teammate and slipped into the backpocket of Dodd, who went to Oakland High in Murfreesboro.
As for Beede (0-2), he quickly moved on from the homer and settled down. He retired the next seven batters and pitched into the ninth inning. He was pulled for senior Will Clinard after he hit a batter with two outs. But he closed out the day with three scoreless innings, six strikeouts and allowed just three earned runs on five hits.
“That is what he is capable of doing,” Corbin said. “He pitched really well after that one inning. That was the best outing he has had. That is good for him. That is good for us.”
Beede kept it close enough for a late Vanderbilt charge.
Against Belmont closer Garrett Fanchier, Drew Fann and Vince Conde reached base to lead off the ninth. Tony Kemp drove both runners in with a two-out single to right field. But the Commodores couldn’t drive in the game-tying run as Anthony Gomez ground out to second to end the game.
Belmont hadn’t beaten Vanderbilt since 2009 and was 1-13 against the Commodores dating back to 2004. The Bruins, winners of five of six, will see Vanderbilt again on April 11 at Hawkins Field.
“It is a quality win for us. There is no doubt about it,” Belmont coach Dave Jarvis said. “Any time you beat an SEC opponent that is a good win for us.”