NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After delaying its weekend series due to inclement weather and snow accumulation, the Vanderbilt baseball program opened its season with a pair of victories over Wright State on Monday afternoon at Hawkins Field.
The Commodores cruised to a 14-1 win in the first game of the doubleheader before claiming a 1-0 victory in the second matchup.
Vanderbilt (2-0) used strong pitching performances across the afternoon, combining for 31 strikeouts over the two games. The Commodore arms limited Wright State (0-2) to just one run and seven hits on the day.
“Kumar (Rocker) certainly gave us a good start and was followed up well,” Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin said. “I thought that was the best that I’ve seen from Jack (Leiter), at least in his time here. It was pretty good.”
The Commodores return to action Wednesday afternoon hosting Western Kentucky. First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at Hawkins Field with action airing live on SEC Network+.
The Vanderbilt offense used 14 hits for a 14-run outburst in the first matchup of the afternoon. The Commodores’ 14-1 victory marked the biggest run differential in a home opener since Feb. 20, 2004 against Southern Illinois.
Rocker turned in a solid outing on the mound, picking up his first win of the new campaign. The right-hander struck out eight batters across four shutout innings of work while yielding just one hit and three walks.
Vanderbilt struck first in the matchup with two runs in the second inning to grab the early lead. After a scoreless third inning, the Commodores went on to score a combined 12 runs across the next five frames, highlighted by a six-run eighth inning, to put the game away and seal the season-opening victory.
The trio of Isaiah Thomas, Tate Kolwyck and Jayson Gonzalez led the offensive charge tallying three RBIs apiece. Thomas and Gonzalez each recorded a home run in the contest while Thomas contributed a team-high tying three hits.
Five Vanderbilt arms combined for a two-hit shutout in the second matchup of the twinbill as the Commodores blanked Wright State 1-0.
Leiter posted a quality outing with five innings of one-hit baseball. The right-hander struck out eight batters of the 16 batters he faced across 69 pitches of work before turning it over to his bullpen.
The foursome of Thomas Schultz, Nick Maldonado, Luke Murphy and Ethan Smith combined to work the final four innings, surrendering just one hit across the span. Murphy worked a shutdown inning in the eighth, striking out the side on 14 pitches, while Smith shut the door in the ninth to pick up his first career save.
The Commodores scored their lone run of the matchup in the fifth inning. The frame began with back-to-back singles from Enrique Bradfield Jr. and Gonzalez. With runners in scoring position, Jack Bulger sent a groundout to first base allowing Bradfield Jr. to cross and make it a 1-0 game, the eventual final.