Kendall, Commodores stun Titans with walk-off homer at CWS

QuotesCorbin’s Speech | camera.gifKendall’s Walk-Off HR | camera.gifHighlights | camera.gifVU Press Conference | Notes

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Cal State Fullerton coach Rick Vanderhook thought he had the matchup he wanted when Vanderbilt freshman Jeren Kendall came to bat against star reliever Tyler Peitzmeier in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Vanderhook was wrong.

Kendall won the battle of left-handers in dramatic fashion, hitting a two-run walk-off homer in the defending national champion Commodores’ 4-3 come-from-behind victory in the College World Series on Monday.

The Commodores had been down 3-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning against Titans ace Thomas Eshelman when heavy thunderstorms Sunday night forced the suspension of the game until Monday afternoon.

“Certainly coming into today, it was a re-set situation,” Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said. “We knew it was going to be a different scenario on the mound, a different attack, and the kids responded very well.”


Vanderbilt (48-19) advanced to a Bracket 2 winners game against TCU on Tuesday night. Before that, Fullerton (39-24) meets LSU in an elimination game.

Vanderhook said he felt good in the bottom of the ninth because his scouting report showed Kendall struggled against left-handed pitching. He had gone a combined 1 for 5 in super regionals against Illinois standout southpaws Kevin Duchene and Tyler Jay, and he struck out in his first at-bat against Peitzmeier in the seventh.

In the ninth, Kendall fouled off a fastball before launching Peitzmeier’s 0-1 slider off the wall in the bullpen.

“We had the guy up we wanted up,” Vanderhook said. “Numbers-wise, everything dictates that guy doesn’t handle left-handers very well. He took a big at-bat in a big moment and did what he was supposed to do.”

Kendall said even though he struck out in his first encounter with Peitzmeier, he was able to get a good read on his windup and motion.

“I got some pretty good looks my first at-bat,” he said. “I came up with a clear mind and played the game.”


Kendall said he wasn’t fazed by the big stage.

“I dream a lot about big moments,” he said. “Just hearing the guys talk about the experience here last year made me more comfortable, especially coming in here as a freshman and not knowing what to expect.”

Zander Wiel’s RBI double on the first pitch from Chad Hockin when play resumed Monday made it 3-1. Peitzmeier, who grew up 25 miles west of Omaha in Yutan and walked on to Fullerton, retired six straight in the seventh and eighth before Vanderbilt struck in the ninth.

Wiel doubled leading off and scored on Bryan Reynolds’ two-base hit. Then Kendall hit the first walk-off homer at the CWS since Connor Rowe of Texas did it against Arizona State 2009.

Kyle Wright (6-1) pitched two-thirds of an inning to earn the win. Peitzmeier (5-4) allowed only the second home run in his 59 2/3 innings, and Fullerton blew a three-run lead for the first time this season.


The loss wiped out Thomas Eshelman’s brilliant performance Sunday night. He allowed four hits, struck out eight and walked none in 5 2/3 innings. He was charged for the run on Wiel’s sixth-inning double off Hockin.

Carson Fulmer, the No. 8 overall draft pick by the Chicago White Sox, gave up all three of Fullerton’s runs in his six innings.

Eshelman said he wouldn’t lean on hindsight and think about what could have been if the storms hadn’t rolled in Sunday.

“We came out today and were ready to play. They put good swings on the ball and were able to hit in some key situations,” Eshelman said. “We’re not blaming the weather delay for what happened today.”

WALK OFF!!!!!Kendall = #CWS HERO

— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 15, 2015

Them Dores tho! J Money for the win #reigning #VandyBoys

— Vandy Baseball (@VandyBaseball) June 15, 2015

Jeren!!!!!!! #reigning

— Vandy Baseball (@VandyBaseball) June 15, 2015


@IMGAudio of Jeren Kendall’s walk-off homer for @VandyBaseball —>! #VandyBoys

— Joe Fisher (@joefishervu) June 15, 2015