In the Clutch

by Andrew Pate

Vanderbilt senior Ty Duvall delivers in high-pressure situations

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Many in sports debate about the ability to measure “clutch.”

What’s not questionable is when Vanderbilt senior Ty Duvall’s time is up with the Commodores, many will remember him most for those such moments.

After limited action as a freshman, Ohio’s former top-ranked recruit made a splash as a sophomore. On April 15, 2018, with the Commodores trailing No. 5 Ole Miss by two runs in the sixth inning of a seven-inning rubber match, Duvall delivered.

“I knew if I put a good swing on the ball, I could tie it up,” Duvall said. “This kid had a really down-angle fastball, so it was going to be really tough to lift it. I really didn’t want to roll over and ground into a double play … I shot it right down the line. I thought for sure it would go foul. I was running right to the vision of it. I saw it clip fair by a couple inches and heard the crowd go crazy.”

Duvall’s double scored three runs, lifting No. 15 Vanderbilt to an 8-7 win and its fourth SEC series victory in five tries. For the Lebanon, Ohio, native, success in those situations began much earlier.

“I think it goes back to our training and how we prepare and how I prepare every day,” Duvall said. “When you get into those moments, you fall back to the level of your training. That’s what coach Corbin tells us. I try to make sure I prepare as good as anybody. When I get into those situations, I just trust myself and remember to stay calm and trust myself.”

As an everyday contributor in 2019, Duvall batted .275. He finished with a .323 average (30-for-93) with runners aboard and batted .500 (4-for-8) with the bases loaded which included clubbing a grand slam against Indiana State in the clinching contest of the NCAA Nashville Regional.

“It’s just the maturity he brings in the box with him,” junior pitcher Mason Hickman said. “I think everyone can attest he’s been a very mature player from the minute he walked on campus. His presence and commitment to a plan while he’s up to bat is second to none in my opinion. He has a very clear approach of what he’s trying to do and then when he gets his pitch, he does damage.”

Duvall reached base in 14 consecutive games to cap Vanderbilt’s run to its second national title in six seasons. During that stretch, he ranked second on the club in RBIs (13). Only fourth-round MLB Draft selection JJ Bleday’s reached-base streak of 51 games was longer to close the season.

“It was tough when you get to Omaha because the games are so spread out,” Duvall said. “You play one game and get a day off. On a weekend you play Friday, Saturday and Sunday then you get a day off, then you play Tuesday. It was much harder to maintain rhythm in the postseason.

“I really just tried to do a good job sticking with my approach instead of trying to do too much in the situations. You try to not let the environment take you off your approach or your game.”

Along with spring sport student-athletes across the country, Duvall’s time on the playing field ended abruptly because of the COVID-19 global pandemic. When baseball returns, the Commodores bid to repeat may or may not feature Duvall.

However it plays out, the legacy has been cemented.

“You know Ty has the potential to make a difference in the game in any situation,” Hickman said. “His approach at the plate is extremely mature and precise. It’s something that has allowed him to produce runs for his for us in multiple important situations.”

Related

The 'One That Started Things'

Vandy's SEC Tournament championship team relives historic moment for program

Dear Vanderbilt Nation

Senior Ty Duvall reflects on his time with the Commodores

Looking Back: The Catch

Revisiting Harrison Ray’s game-clinching grab in Omaha