The ultimate goal of Vanderbilt’s baseball team is to make it to Omaha for the College World Series.
Right now, though, coach Tim Corbin and his staff can draw inspiration from St. Louis. That’s where outfielder Matt Holliday has injected life into the Cardinals with 20 hits in 33 at-bats (through Saturday) in his first nine games since being acquired in a trade with Oakland.
The Commodores didn’t make any trades but they recently hired Josh Holliday, the older brother of Matt, as an assistant coach. He spent the last two seasons at Arizona State and was hired to replace Erik Bakich, who became head coach at Maryland.
There are not necessarily stats available to chart Holliday’s immediate impact at VU, but he is eager to do just as his brother has done.
“It’s not asking too much,” Josh Holliday said. “I know what the expectations are at Vanderbilt … and I’m thrilled to be here.”
Holliday spent the weekend with fellow assistant coach Derek Johnson recruiting at a tournament in Lakeland, Fla. His family (he is married with two children) was in the process of relocating to Nashville and he said he expected to be settled by the end of the week.
At some point in the coming weeks, he hopes to be able to catch up with his brother in person and see first-hand the effect the move has had on Matt and the Cardinals.
“Obviously, Matt’s off to a very good start and he’s thrilled to have been embraced by the fans and that city the way he has,” Josh Holliday said. “If there’s a chance, I’ll sneak off to St. Louis at sometime.”
Similarly, he likes Vanderbilt’s chances eventually to end up in Omaha.
“I came to Vanderbilt because I think it represents everything that’s right about college baseball,” he said. “… It’s just a matter of time before this program ends up in the College World Series. I really believe that.”
In other VU baseball news:
• Pitcher Drew Hayes will return for his senior season. The right-handed pitcher was a second-round draft choice (653rd overall) of the Seattle Mainers but rejected that team’s contract offers.
Hayes was 4-3 with a 5.56 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 43.2 innings for the Commodores last spring.
“We’re happy about that,” coach Tim Corbin said. “He will help a great deal.”
• Pitcher Sonny Gray completed his stint with the USA Baseball collegiate national team a little more than a week ago when that team defeated Germany 8-1 in the championship game of the World Baseball Challenge.
The Americans went 6-1 in the tournament (they lost to Germany in an earlier contest) and 19-5 overall for the summer.
Gray had a 0.75 ERA and lost just one game (he won three) in eight appearances. He incurred another loss the day after the tournament, though, as his luggage was lost by an airline upon his return to Middle Tennessee last Monday. His bags finally arrived two days later.