Closing Out the Regular Season

Commodores at Kentucky beginning Thursday

Vanderbilt Commodores (34-18, 12-15 SEC) at #2 Kentucky Wildcats (37-11, 20-7 SEC)
Game 1: Thursday, May 16 @ 5:30 p.m. CT    SECN+
Game 2: Friday, May 17 @ 5:30. CT    SECN+
Game 3: Saturday, May 18 @ 11 a.m. CT    SEC Network
Lexington, Ky. • Kentucky Proud Park

Series Preview: Vanderbilt visits Kentucky for the finale series of the regular season.

  • Vanderbilt and Kentucky will be meeting for the 311th time since 1905 on Thursday. The Dores lead the all-time series 155-150-5.
  • Vanderbilt has won each of the last five series over the Wildcats including a sweep last season in Nashville.
  • This week’s series has seeding implications for next week’s SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala. Vandy is currently tied with Alabama for the No. 8 seed. The Wildcats are one game up on Tennessee for the top spot in the East.
  • Both teams like to run the bases. Kentucky leads the SEC with 99 stolen bases on 125 attempts while Vanderbilt is second with 84 steals on 97 attempts.
  • On the season, Kentucky is hitting .290 with a 4.85 staff ERA. Vandy is hitting .284 with a 4.82 ERA.

Last Time Out: Vanderbilt won the series finale over No. 1 Tennessee on Sunday with a combined shutout by JD Thompson and Devin Futrell.

  • JD Thompson was named the SEC Co-Pitcher of the Week after throwing 6.0 shutout innings vs. Tennessee, holding the Vols to two hits while totaling nine strikeouts.
  • Devin Futrell held Tennessee scoreless over the final three innings to hand the top-ranked Volunteers their first shutout this season.
  • Alan Espinal hit a two-run homer in the first inning, his team-leading 10th on the season.
  • Vandy’s starting pitchers registered a 2.04 ERA over 17.2 innings in the series vs. Tennessee with 26 strikeouts.

Golden Spikes Award: RJ Austin was one of 45 players named to the 2024 Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List.

  • Austin leads Vanderbilt in RBI (49), hits (64), runs scored (43) and stolen bases (23).
  • The sophomore from Atlanta was named SEC Tournament MVP last season and has a team-high 20 multi-hit games and 10 multi-RBI games this season.
  • Austin has the most RBI (49) among SEC players with 20+ stolen bases.
  • Austin was named to the 2024 SEC Community Service Team on Wednesday.

Johnny V: Vanderbilt shortstop Jonathan Vastine was recently named the No. 18 shortstop by

  • Vastine leads the team in doubles (16) and, after leading Vandy with 18 doubles in 2023, is looking to become the first Commodore since Dansby Swanson to lead the team in doubles in back-to-back seasons.
  • In D1Baseball’s shortstop rankings on May 9, Vastine (No. 18) is the second-highest ranked SEC shortstop behind Texas A&M’s Ali Camarillo (No. 12).
  • According to D1Baseball’s Synergy stats, Vastine’s 11.27 defensive runs saved is good for eighth nationally and ranks first among SEC shortstops.

Cunningham in Control: Junior Bryce Cunningham was named SEC Pitcher of the Week for the second time this season on April 29.

  • Cunningham threw a two-hit, complete-game shutout vs. Mississippi State (April 26) as Vandy defeated the Bulldogs, 4-0.
  • Cunningham totaled four strikeouts and tossed 122 pitches in Vanderbilt’s second complete-game shutout on the season.

Scoring Early: Vanderbilt has scored 95 runs in the first two innings this season, averaging nearly two runs per game in the opening frames.

  • Vandy is outscoring its opponents 51-33 in first innings and 44-17 in second innings.
  • The Dores are 17-1 when they score in the first frame and 22-4 when scoring first.

Top Relievers: Junior Ryan Ginther and freshman Brennan Seiber were named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year midseason watch list on April 24.

  • Vandy is one of only two SEC schools with multiple players on the watch list.

200 K’s for #20: Junior Carter Holton recorded his 200th career strikeout at South Carolina on March 23.

  • Holton has registered five quality starts this season. He has 10 or more strikeouts in four starts and eight or more strikeouts in seven starts.
  • Among active SEC pitchers that have pitched their entire careers in the SEC, Holton ranks fourth in career wins (18), second in strikeouts (249) and third in innings pitched (198.1).

Welcome to the Show: With the call-ups of Austin Martin (Twins), Jack Leiter (Rangers) and Tyler Ferguson (Athletics) this season, Vanderbilt leads all schools with 15 alumni to appear on MLB rosters in 2024, including the IL.

  • Austin Martin made his debut with the Minnesota Twins on March 30.
  • Jack Leiter made his MLB debut for the Texas Rangers on April 18.
  • Tyler Ferguson made his MLB debut with Oakland on May 7. With Ferguson’s debut, 34 former Commodores have made their MLB debuts since Tim Corbin’s first season at Vandy in 2003.

Weekly Awards: Six Commodores have earned seven weekly awards from the SEC this season.

  • May 13: JD Thompson (Co-Pitcher) tossed 6.0 shutout innings with nine strikeouts and two hits allowed vs. No. 1 Tennessee.
  • April 29: Bryce Cunningham (Pitcher) threw a complete-game shutout in a 4-0 win over Mississippi State. Cunningham turned in the longest outing of his career, throwing 122 pitches while allowing only two hits.
  • April 8: Jayden Davis (Co-Player) led all SEC hitters with a .583 average on the week, helping lead the Dores to a series win over ranked LSU in Baton Rouge. Davis went 7-for-12 in the series and drove in eight runs with a homer and three doubles.
  • April 1: Bryce Cunningham (Pitcher) tossed 7.0 shutout innings vs. Missouri, allowing just one hit with a career-high 12 strikeouts.
  • March 18: Alan Espinal (Player) had eight hits over the weekend to help the Commodores sweep No. 18 Auburn. His eight hits tied for the most in the SEC.
  • March 11: Devin Futrell (Pitcher) recorded the first complete-game shutout by an SEC pitcher this season. Futrell carried a no-hit bid to the final out of the fifth inning and struck out seven batters. The southpaw did not allow a walk.
  • March 4: Camden Kozeal (Freshman) led all DI hitters with 14 hits, helping the Commodores to a 5-0 week.