NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Earlier this month, Vanderbilt baseball opened SEC play by dropping two of three games at Texas A&M, a less-than-idea kickoff to the conference slate. After winning the series opener, 7-4, on March 15, the Commodores followed with an 8-7 loss that Saturday and a 7-0 setback on Sunday.
On the trip back to Nashville, Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin noticed a distinct cloud lingering around his roster.
“You could tell they were hurting a little bit after the Saturday situation, the middle game,” Corbin said earlier this week. “But, you know, those things happen. Things don’t always go as planned. We didn’t really recover on that Sunday, and there was still a little bit of a sting. That goes for all of us.”
Almost two weeks later, the Dores seem to be feeling much better.
No. 6 Vanderbilt extinguished rival Tennessee, 4-2, on Friday in the opener of a three-game series at Hawkins Field. The win marked the Dores’ sixth straight since dropping the series at Texas A&M. That run has included a pair of midweek victories over Belmont and Lipscomb and, more impressively, a sweep of then-No. 14 Florida last weekend. Vanderbilt outscored the Gators 34-6 in its first sweep of Florida since 2007.
Corbin said he likes the mentality of his Commodores team right now as it finds its groove in SEC play.
“I like the mindset just because it’s pretty consistent and mature,” Corbin said. “It’s the same thing everyday, same habits. They don’t get too high on themselves, which they shouldn’t. They certainly don’t get too low on themselves, which they shouldn’t. They stay pretty balanced.”
The Dores had to battle back early against Tennessee after Justin Ammons homered off the second pitch of the game from Vanderbilt’s Drake Fellows for a quick 1-0 lead. Ty Duvall tied things up with a homer of his own in the bottom of the third before a JJ Bleday dinger pushed Vanderbilt ahead, 2-1. The Dores added two more runs in the bottom of the sixth to pad their lead.
Entering Friday, Vanderbilt’s pitching had permitted just seven run in its last 45 innings while posting a 1.40 ERA. The Dores added to that streak by allowing just two runs in the opener against Tennessee. Meanwhile, they scattered nine hits on the night from the plate.
“I just think we’re being aggressive,” infielder Harrison Ray said. “We’re being aggressive and confident, that’s all you can be. Be aggressive and confident and whatever happens happens. We’re just trying to be a confidant bunch out there.”
Vanderbilt could use more confidence in its next two games against the Volunteers. Next weekend, it will hit the road for a three-game series again Georgia before another three games on the road at Alabama. Plenty of SEC play remains, which is why Corbin said he is thankful for a mix of veteran leadership for the Dores as they bounce back from Texas A&M.
“I guess that’s you having some older kids,” Corbin said. “But it’s good because the middle-aged kids in the family are moving in that direction, too, and they need to. This is just a game. It’s like being a two-legged chair. You can’t go back on four legs when you feel too comfortable. You have to kind of balance it.”