Make no mistake about it, Vanderbilt’s baseball team will be hard-pressed to repeat — let alone exceed — the success it enjoyed last season.
The Commodores, who went to the College World Series for the first time, lost 11 players, including the vast majority of their pitching staff and a handful of their best hitters, to the Major League Baseball draft.
Yet, if they continue to make the number of mistakes they did in their season-opening series at No. 4 Stanford over the weekend, the task will be that much more difficult.
Vanderbilt committed a total of 11 errors and failed to win any of the three games between preseason top 25 teams.
Those miscues led to 10 unearned runs, including six in an 18-5 defeat in Sunday’s series finale. The 11th-ranked Commodores fell 8-3 in the opener and 9-5 in Saturday’s second contest.
It is the first time since 1981 the program started with three straight defeats. That year began with six losses in a row (five to Hawaii and one to Chaminade) on a trip to Hawaii.
In fact, this is the first time under coach Tim Corbin that VU lost even its first two. The last time that happened was 1988 under Roy Mewbourne, Corbin’s predecessor.
The fielding issues were particularly problematic for the starting pitchers. Highly touted freshman Tyler Beede, allowed nine runs on nine hits in his college debut on Saturday, but four of those runs were unearned. Sunday starter Sam Selman allowed 12 runs in five innings, but half of those runs were unearned.
The Commodores’ fielding percentage for the weekend was .904. Last season, they were fourth in the SEC at .973.
Juniors Connor Harrell, an outfielder, and Anthony Gomez, the shortstop, were the only VU players with at least a hit in all three games. Harrell hit two home runs and drove in four of the team’s five on Saturday. Gomez had three hits on Saturday and two more on Sunday and finished the weekend with six hits, all singles.
Vanderbilt plays 13 of its next 14 games at home, beginning Wednesday against Oakland.