NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Vanderbilt baseball program is taking its show to Hawaii.
Vandy opens a four-game series against the Rainbow Warriors of Hawaii at 10:35 p.m. CT Friday. The Commodores departed for Honolulu, O’ahu, on Wednesday morning and will spend nearly a full week on the islands before returning to Tennessee.
Vanderbilt’s four-game series also includes a doubleheader starting at 5:05 p.m. CT Saturday – which will begin with a seven-inning game followed by a nine-inning game – before a 5:05 p.m. CT finale Sunday. The team will also visit the Pearl Harbor National Memorial on Monday and take part in a traditional luau before returning Tuesday.
On the field, Vanderbilt (6-2) is on a five-game winning streak after dropping a season-opening series to Oklahoma State. A 5-2 win over Central Arkansas on Tuesday completed an eight-game homestand to start the season and gives the Commodores a bit of momentum before hitting the road for the first time.
Spencer Jones (.355), Javier Vaz (.333) and Jack Bulger (.321) have done the heavy lifting at the plate thus far. Chris McElvain (1-0) has yet to allow an earned run in 8 2/3 innings of work and Patrick Reilly (1-0, 0.00) has been sharp out of the bullpen with a team-leading 16 strikeouts.
“I just think we probably have some pretty good depth in terms of position players that have similar abilities to the other players that are out there,” Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin said of his team at this point in the season. “I just think we have a lot of similar abilities from a position player standpoint which is going to make it interesting roster-wise and the ability to use them all. That is something that has been on my mind the last week.
“That’s difficult to do sometimes in a situation where there’s no free substitutions. Just looking for opportunities for kids to get on the field and see what they can give us.”
Vanderbilt, despite its recent run of success, is just 4-19 all-time against Hawaii. Two of those Vandy wins came in 2020 at Hawkins Field when the Dores took two of three in a three-game series.
Hawaii is 4-4 this season and is back home after having played four games in San Diego, California — three as part of the Tony Gwynn Classic at San Diego State. The Warriors are coming off an 8-5 win at San Diego State on Tuesday.
The abundance of games this weekend will give Corbin and staff many more opportunities to find out just whom can perform in high-pressure situations as they to continue the start of the season off on the right foot.
“I think those games in between the games really matter and we’ve always told them that. If they stay consistent to that and you see growth then you want to give them opportunities,” Corbin said. “It’s good to see kids get an opportunity to play, but I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that they played well leading up to this, yet the only thing that keeps them from playing right now is people that have played just a little bit better and have had more experience. We’ll continue to try to get them in there as much as we possibly can.”
— Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for VUCommodores.com.
Follow him @MrChadBishop.