The No. 2 ranked Vanderbilt Commodores traveled across the country this weekend to take on the No. 11 Oregon Ducks. Game one of the three game series pitted LHP Kevin Ziomek against RHP Jake Reed of Oregon. In the top of the second inning, second baseman Tony Kemp tripled into the left-center gap to drive home Rhett Wiseman and Xavier Turner. Jack Lupo then singled to center to give the Commodores a 3-0 lead. In the bottom of the fourth, Ducks first baseman Ryon Healy jumped on a Ziomek fastball and hit a home run to left field. The home run by Healy would account for one of the Ducks two hits on the night. Ziomek pitched his second straight complete game in the Vanderbilt 4-1 victory. He struck out 13 batters and only walked one.
Game 1: Vanderbilt 4-1
WP: Kevin Ziomek (4-0)
LP: Jake Reed (1-3)
In game two on Saturday afternoon, RHP Tyler Beede of Vanderbilt faced off against LHP Tommy Thorpe. Once again, Vanderbilt jumped out to an early scoring a run in each of the second and third innings. The run in the second inning came about when Mike Yastrzemski singled to left field. The ball caromed away from left fielder Brett Thomas, allowing Yastrzemski to reach second. Vince Conde followed with a double into the left field corner to pick up the RBI.
In the third inning Tony Kemp, the thorn in the side of the Ducks, singled to lead off the inning. He advanced to second on a sacrifice, reached third on a groundout, and then scored on a wild pitch to give the Commodores a 2-0 lead. Oregon was able to cut the lead in half in the sixth inning, after Ryon Healy scored on an RBI groundout by Steven Packard.
In the seventh, Conner Harrell drew a bases load walk to push the Vanderbilt lead to 3-1. Kemp drove in the fourth Vanderbilt run with a double in the top of the eighth. In the bottom of the eighth, Conner Hofmann doubled down the left-field line to score Ryan Hambright. The Ducks stranded the tying and go-ahead runs when shortstop J.J Altobelli struck out with runners on second and third.Oregon left 12 runners on base, six in scoring position.
RHP Tyler Beede picked up the win for Vanderbilt, improving to 4-0. The sophomore pitched 6.2 innings while striking out seven. Beede only allowed two hits, but gave Oregon plenty of opportunities by walking six.
Game 2: Vanderbilt 4-2
WP: Tyler Beede (4-0)
LP: Tommy Thorpe (2-2)
In the series finale on Sunday, Vanderbilt loaded the bases in the top of the first but only managed one run on a sacrifice fly by Conner Harrell. Oregon responded in the bottom half of the first with three consecutive bunts to load the bases. Brett Thomas followed with a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 1-1.
In the third, Thomas gave Oregon their first lead of the series with a two-out RBI double. Vanderbilt responded in the fifth inning with consecutive doubles by Spencer Navin and John Norwood. Norwood moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and then scored on a Tony Kemp sacrifice fly. In the sixth inning, Mike Yastrzemski belted a home run to right field giving the Commodores a 4-2 lead. In his next at bat, Yastrzemski hit an RBI double in the eighth to push the Commodores lead to 5-2.
Oregon entered the bottom of the eighth inning 4 of 28 with runners in scoring position. The Ducks scored their first run of the inning on a wild pitch, which cut the lead to 5-3. An ensuing walk loaded the bases once again for Oregon. With two outs, Steven Packard hit a slow chopper to third. Vince Conde fielded the ball cleanly but airmailed the throw over the first baseman, allowing two Ducks to score to tie the game at 5-5. Another Oregon walk loaded the bases for Scott Heineman. Heineman delivered a two-out single trough the left side to give Oregon a 7-5 lead and the victory.
Game 3: Oregon 7-5
WP: Jimmie Sherfy (1-0)
LP: Brian Miller (0-1)
Vanderbilt came across the country and handled Oregon at home. The Commodores looked impressive on the mound with the combination of Ziomek and Beede. Ziomek dominated the Oregon hitters Friday night.
On Saturday, it was much of the same for Beede, minus the six walks, which kept Oregon alive. Oregon notched only four hits off the Vanderbilt starters in 15 and 2/3 innings. Sunday was a much closer game, but Vanderbilt should have pulled off the sweep.
If you were to ask Vince Conde or head coach Tim Corbin, they probably would have told you the slow chopper in the bottom of the eighth is a play that Conde makes nine out of ten times. Unfortunately for Vanderbilt, it kept Oregon alive.
For Oregon, the pressure was clearly on their shoulders. The Ducks were 4 of 30 in the series by the time Heineman delivered the game winning single. The Ducks looked overmatched at the plate, but stacked up equally around the diamond. The growing concern for Oregon is finding enough offense to win the Friday and Saturday night matchups against some of the top arms in the country.
One change in approach they took into Sunday’s game is their ability to bunt. Oregon started the bottom of the first with a leadoff bunt single, another batter reached base on a mishandled bunt, and then another bunt single from number three hitter Ryon Healy. If Oregon can continue to execute their small ball approach, the pressure then falls on their opponents to execute. We saw in Sunday’s game, that even the best teams in the country can feel the pressure too.