This weekend, Vanderbilt played baseball’s first regulated games since the 2020 season closed in March. The annual three-game intrasquad series, tab “Black and Gold World Series“Taken place in front of a crowd of scouts, a limited number of family members and selected members of the media on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The black team, drafted by Cooper Davis, ended up taking the series with victories on Friday and Sunday.
Instead of game summaries, The Hustler provides takeaways from every seven-inning game this weekend.
Friday: Black wins 8-7
Game One was pretty slugfest, but the Black team won 8-7. Sophomore catcher Maxwell Romero Jr. did not appear in the 2020s shortened season, but if this game was an indication of his potential, he will be difficult to keep on the bench. He was 3-for-3 with a homerun and three RBIs for the Black team, and he was the most impressive bat on both teams. Romero Jr. and other sophomore catchers CJ Rodriguez were able to create a productive tandem behind the record, similar to the couple Ty Duvall and Philip Clarke two years ago. Junior shortstop Tate Kolwyck also homer for the Black team, a moon shot over the pale in the left midfield.
Junior Central field midfielder Isaiah Thomas showed his power last season, leading the team with four home runs, and his speed was at full screen on Friday night for the Gold team. Thomas ran to a double in the second half on a liner down the left field line; his speed gave him an infield single on a hard-hitting founder in the fourth inning. Speaking of the Gold team’s speed, novice player TJ McKenzie turned a probable double into an undoubted triple and almost hit the rebound in the fourth inning.
Junior pitcher Kumar Rocker was a big reason why dozens of MLB scouts traveled to Nashville, radar guns in hand, and he hit 96 km / h on his fastball in a short outing. Rocker allowed only two hits and one earned run in three innings while hitting six strokes. Beginner Patrick Reilly was impressive in 2.2 rounds of work for the Black team and earned the victory. He allowed three hits and one earned run. The radar pistol reappeared when junior reliever Ethan Smith earned a three save for the black team, waving two of the three blows he faced.
The Gold team relied on two jugs to put together six rounds of work. Beginner Miles Garrett got the start and allowed five earned races, one unearned race and six hits in four innings. He looked comfortable against a scary line-up, and his start may indicate that Corbin will give him many opportunities in the spring, even if Garrett with a stacked rotation only sees time out of the bullpen.
– Betsy Goodfriend, Deputy Sports Editor
Saturday: Gold wins 5-2
After junior phenomenon Kumar Rocker started for the Black team on Friday, sophomore Jack Leiter – another Vanderbilt pitcher – expected to go top five of the 2021 MLB Draft—Take the pile to the Gold team on Saturday. Leiter may have only thrown two innings to the Rockers’ three, probably because of his number of counts (it took him 35 spots to get through two innings), but he seemed to have picked up where he left off last season. Leiter allowed only one hit in two pointless frames, waved four strokes and flashed a fast ball that clocked in at as high as 96 miles per hour, according to a scout’s radar gun. Also lurking was one of Leiter’s best weapons from last season, a devastating 12-6 basket ball, bat and falling as low as 77 miles per hour.
On the other hand, Chris McElvain started for the black team and struggled through four innings. McElvain was credited with all five earned races, when he allowed six hits, went three and knocked out one before giving the torch to Ryan Stefiuk, who ended the match without allowing a new race. McElvain’s first earned race came at the bottom of the second, with runners in second and third; freshman Jack O’Dowd plated the first two races of the game for Gold by a weak, slow-rolling founder of Second Baseman – one who appeared to be a ground ball routine. The gold team’s big round continued, when Enrique Bradfield took home two more races after a field selection.
All four of these races came in pretty impressive sequences: a routine ground ball and a fieldman’s choice. However, the Gold team’s fifth and final race was a major sign of what was to come for VandyBoys in 2021. Last season, the Commodores struggled to replicate their hefty offense in 2019, and a player considered a factor was third baseman Jayson Gonzalez . But Gonzalez decided to take a semester off in 2019, so Vanderbilt failed to reap the benefits of his power. Now back at school, Gonzalez showed his team how he can contribute in 2021 with one RBI double in the third round.
Both black teams’ races came at the top of the third round, when Tate Kolwyck launched a round tripper over the left field fence. Kolwyck’s two home runs in so many games helped him put together a monster weekend in front of dozens of MLB scouts. Another welcome surprise for the Commodores, who want to replace Tyler Brown after being selected by the Houston Astros, was Luke Murphy. After Leiter’s two pointless rounds and Donye Evans’ three rounds, which allowed two runs (one earned), Murphy came in to throw the last two frames. Cross Plains, a native of Tennessee, looked amazing – perhaps even better than Leiter (at least this day) – when he struck out four, allowing no hits, no trips and no earned races; he even reached 97 miles per hour on his fastball, according to a scout’s radar gun.
– Simon Gibbs, Sports Editor
Sunday: Black wins 9-8
In an epic, back-and-forth battle on Sunday, the Black team was able to surpass Isaiah Thomas and his eight RBIs thanks to a walk-off single in the eighth round of Cooper Davis.
The offensive skill was on full screen throughout the game as both teams demonstrated their versatility and ability to both strike for power and play small ball. Whether it was home runs, deep doubles, drawn runs or bundle singles, both troops showed it all.
Thomas got the Gold team to a warm start at the top of the first with a three-run homer to the right, his first for the day. The black team reacted immediately with RBIs by the designated hitter CJ Rodriguez and right-hander Troy LaNeve to cut it to 3-2. Thomas answered back again with an RBI single in the middle, but the black team scored the next five races to give themselves a 7-4 lead.
At the top of the fourth, Thomas came up to swim with the bases loaded, and at 1-2 counts, the ball smashed well over the high left field wall and put the Gold team up at 8-7.
The scoring died a bit when newcomer Gage Bradley and junior Ethan Smith each time hit incredibly well in relief for the gold and black teams respectively.
First baseman Dominic Keegan ended the two-inning scoring drought with a home run on the opposite field at the bottom of the sixth to tie the game at eight.
None of the teams managed to run on the seventh, so the match went against extras, where each team usually started the round with the bases loaded. The Gold team failed to get anything started thanks to a superb game thrown by Smith, and the game led to the bottom of the eighth.
In a fitting finish, Davis, the black team’s senior captain, shot the first pitch he saw from first-year student Nelson Berkwich to the left field, scoring Matt Hogan and giving the black team a 9-8 victory and a 2-1 series victory.
Thomas made the heavy offensive lift for the Gold team, and they got a big lift from Bradley on the mound who threw 3.2 laps and just gave up one race. The black team was paced by Davis and Keegan who each recorded 3 RBIs. Smith was the winning pitcher, recording an impressive four innings without a run and only two hits surrendered.
– Alyssa Muir, Deputy Sports Editor