After two days of pouncing on mistakes, Vanderbilt got a taste of its own medicine.
The second-ranked Commodores gave up three earned runs, committed two errors, walked seven and hit three in the finale of a season-opening three-game series against Long Beach State on Sunday at Hawkins Field. As a result, Vanderbilt lost for the first time, 13-9, and missed out on a sweep.
The Commodores (2-1) won their season opener 10-4 on Friday and rolled to a 12-2 victory on Saturday. In all three games, they fell behind and it finally caught up with them on Sunday. The Dirtbags – yes, that’s the baseball team’s official nickname (49ers in all other sports) – scored nine runs in the first three innings and held on in a travel-shortened eight-inning game.
“I thought there was not a phase that we did well [Sunday],” coach Tim Corbin said. “When you give up a couple touchdowns in baseball it is tough to overcome that. That’s what we did. We put ourselves in a tough situation. You got to credit Long Beach State, though, they hit the ball well in spots and they took advantage of our miscues. That’s what good teams do.”
Vanderbilt fit that description on Friday and Saturday.
In the first two games, Long Beach State (1-2) made a combined six errors and allowed 11 unearned runs. In the third inning, the Commodores capitalized when Long Beach State slipped up with a throwing error in the infield and a dropped fly ball in center field, which led directly to two runs. Instead of the inning being over, Vanderbilt jumped ahead and broke open the game with five runs.
On Saturday, the Dirtbags had four errors, including two in the fifth to relinquish a one-run lead. A botched force out at second allowed Vince Conde to reach second safely. Conde later scored on a single by Jack Lupo. Xavier Turner scored the go-ahead run when the ball was mishandled in center. Vanderbilt broke open the game with seven runs in the seventh. Long Beach State walked five batters in the frame and 10 for the game.
“Bouncing back was the most important thing,” center fielder Mike Yastrzemski said after Friday’s game. “Just taking advantage of everything your given is really important to do in this game.”
Amidst all the miscues, the Commodores' work at the plate shouldn’t go unnoticed. They recorded 30 hits over the weekend, including four apiece from Turner, Yastrzemski and Spencer Navin. Center fielder Connor Harrell hit two home runs and drove in seven runs.
Vanderbilt had a season-high 14 hits on Sunday but left 14 runners on base.
“We had some opportunities. We really didn’t take advantage of them despite what the scoreboard says,” Harrell said. “We’ll get better. The pitching will get better. The hitting will get better. But it is disappointing.”