The National enchants at Ascend Amphitheater

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Vanderbilt misses chances, falls to No. 23 Tennessee Tech for sixth-straight loss

After a sloppy start in the field, Vanderbilt couldn’t wake up the bats in time and lost to the No. 23 Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles 6-4 at Hawkins Field on Tuesday night.

The loss extended their losing streak to six games and was their second-straight loss to Tennessee Tech dating back to last season.

TTU scored six runs in the first three innings, including three runs in the first frame. Starting pitcher Reid Schaller struggled through just two innings of work, giving up 7 hits and three earned runs.

Vanderbilt stranded a grand total of 16 baserunners on the night.

“Too many breakdowns after leadoff hitters got on,” coach Tim Corbin said of the team’s tendency to strand runners. “We had first and second no outs, we had first and second one out, we had two leadoff doubles, so we’re putting ourselves in pretty positive positions at the beginning of innings. But there’s too many two-strike breakdowns after that. I think we would have walked four times on ball four but we swung at it.

“We just put ourselves in a tough position, but at this point we’re just looking for some positive things that are happening on the field and there are some positive things there. We stopped them from scoring after inning three and offensively there were some kids who had some pretty good at-bats tonight against a pretty good closer.”

Right out of the gate, Vanderbilt struggled to get out of its own way. A booted ground ball by first baseman Garrett Blaylock followed by an infield single by Trevor Putzig gave Tennessee Tech the first two baserunners of the game. A single to right field by Kevin Strohschein loaded the bases before a passed ball and single up the middle brought all three runs across.

“Well, we weren’t ready at first play, that’s the first thing,” Corbin said of the disastrous first inning. “The leadoff hitter got on, then a chopped hit, then after that I thought they did a really nice job of two-strike hitting, driving the ball the other way, not trying to do too much, they understood Reid’s velocity, they didn’t try to overswing. They’re a good hitting team, but he became predictable and because he became predictable, there really wasn’t a pitch that he could do them away with, so they just put the fastball in play.”

Schaller started to settle in temporarily after that, striking out two before getting Brennon Kaleiwahea to fly out to JJ Bleday in right field and mercifully end the inning.

The hit parade continued in the second inning for the Golden Eagles, however, as more hits by Putzig and Strohschein plated two more runs. Tech also got more help on infield hits as a slow-rolling short ground ball by Chase Chambers proved too tough for the Vanderbilt infielders.

Bleday got himself reacquainted rather quickly in his first appearance since March 27 with a double down the left field line in the top of the second inning. However, he was stranded along with Stephen Scott when Blaylock skied a can of corn to center field to end the inning. TTU lead 5-0 after two innings.

Corbin was impressed with Bleday’s comeback, as he went 1-2 with three walks.

“I thought the first at-bat was old JJ Bleday,” he said. “It was a two-strike bat, he stayed inside the ball and drove it down the line. Getting on base and reading pitches. JJ is a pretty wise hitter. He is, we’ve missed him for awhile and we need more guys like him.”

A two-out single by Alex Junior plated another to extend Tech’s lead to 6-0 in the top of the third with reliever Tyler Brown on the mound for the Commodores. In the bottom of the third, Vanderbilt loaded the bases with two outs but couldn’t get any runners across as Bleday grounded out to first base to end the inning.

Vanderbilt had yet another chance to get runs across in the bottom of the fourth with two runners on base with two outs. However, Ethan Paul was caught looking at strike three to end the threat (if there really ever was one). The Commodores got their first run in 16 innings dating back to their series vs. Auburn when Philip Clarke launched a ball into the right field bleachers to cut the score to 6-1 in the fifth.

That would be it on the inning, however, as the Commodores would not threaten again that inning aside from a Bleday walk.

While the Commodore pitchers seemed to settle down after pitching three straight scoreless innings, the Vanderbilt bats had yet to liven up going into the bottom of the sixth inning. Stephen Scott doubled to open up the inning, but three straight strikeouts left him stranded to finish the inning.

The Commodore bats slowly woke up from their slumber in the eighth when Jayson Gonzalez delivered an RBI single up the middle to cut the deficit to 6-2. A hit batter loaded the bases for Blaylock, who grounded out to first base to end the inning.

Vanderbilt stranded two runners in the eighth and failed to score, but had a chance to sneak back into it in the ninth. Bleday got on base with a leadoff walk, and after a Gonzalez strikeout, Scott roped a double to right field to put two runners in scoring position. Blaylock grounded out to first to score Bleday to cut it to 6-3 with two outs. Austin Martin hit a hard grounder that ricocheted off of the shortstop’s glove to score Scott and cut the deficit to two. Paul struck out to end the comeback attempt.

Corbin made sure to give credit to Tech, who tied a school record with their 41st win of the season on Tuesday.

“That’s a good team, that’s real,” Corbin said. “That’s a good, older, offensive team that is coached really well. Matt [Bragga] does a hell of a job with those kids. He really does. They believe, they’re confident, you can just tell. You don’t win 41 games out of 47 games, regardless of who you play. That type of consistency is tough to do and he’s got a really good situation. My hats off to him.”

Looking for their first win of the month, the team will travel to Knoxville to take on rival Tennessee in a three-game set with their tournament hopes in need of a good shot of cortisone.

The post Vanderbilt misses chances, falls to No. 23 Tennessee Tech for sixth-straight loss appeared first on Vanderbilt Hustler.

Vanderbilt set to face upstart Tennessee Tech on Tuesday

Tuesday’s midweek matchup at Hawkins Field will feature the best college baseball team in the state of Tennessee…and the Vanderbilt Commodores.

Yes, the 23rd-ranked Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles are one of college baseball’s best stories, and they’ll try to win their 32nd game out of their last 33 when they take on Vanderbilt on Tuesday at 6:30 PM.

After having their nation-best 28-game win streak snapped on April 29, TTU swept the Belmont Bruins over the weekend to get back to their winning ways. Prior to that loss, the team hadn’t lost a single game since March 10.

The pride of Cookeville, Tennessee, the Eagles are not unfamiliar with the big stage. They made the NCAA Tournament last year for the first time since 2009 and gave the Florida State Seminoles a scare when they beat them in their first regional game before losing their next two. Florida State would go on to Omaha.

Meanwhile, Vanderbilt is in quite the opposite situation. The Commodores are stuck in a five-game losing streak dating back to the final game of their three-game series against South Carolina on April 29. They just got swept by the Auburn Tigers and got dropped from the Top 25 rankings. Vanderbilt will be looking to salvage their NCAA Tournament resume and start their final eight games of the regular season with a win.

Here’s the lowdown on the big in-state showdown tonight:

Pitching Matchup

Vanderbilt: Reid Schaller (second start, 15th appearance, 1-0 record, 19 IP, 4.26 ERA, 26 K)

Tennessee Tech: Devin Lancaster (fifth start, 10th appearance, 1-0 record, 28.1 IP, 5.72 ERA, 17 K)

Analysis: The redshirt sophomore Schaller has primarily been a reliever, but has recently gotten looks as a starter. This will be the second start of his young career after he earned his first career win with a three-inning, four-strikeout start against Evansville on April 17th. This will be a big rebound opportunity for Schaller after he gave up three earned runs in just one inning of work on April 29th against South Carolina.

Meanwhile, Lancaster is the fifth starter on this Golden Eagle team and last appeared in a game on April 29th, conceding one run in TTU’s streak-snapping loss. As it might be for Vanderbilt, this could very well be a bullpen-heavy game for TTU, as Lancaster has conceded a run in all but one of this appearances this season and given up an earned run in all but two of his appearances. This could be a chance for Vanderbilt to wake up some of its bats.

Three Keys

Win the Bullpen Battle

The Vanderbilt bullpen has not been great this year, and while Schaller should be able to provide 4-5 solid innings, Vanderbilt will need to find a way to finish it off late. The team as a whole has given up 4+ runs in each of the last five games, so they will need to find a way to limit the Golden Eagles’ production. They will also likely face a lot of the TTU bullpen as Lancaster has only gone past four innings of work once this season. Vanderbilt has the capability to score runs, but will need to stop Tennessee Tech’s hot bats.

Steal, Pillage, Shoplift

The Commodores have been particularly good at stealing bases this year. They’re the 12th-best team in the country at it, in fact. This will allow the team to turn some small ball singles into runners in scoring position, a key to winning high-scoring games. Now, driving in those runners in scoring position is a different story…

What’s in Your Head

Losing streaks can weigh on the mind, especially with such a young team like the Commodores. They had six-game losing streak about a month ago and responded with two series wins against big SEC foes. With the SEC Tournament closing in, coach Tim Corbin needs to make sure his team has its mind right. If they have a belief in themselves and can shake their losing ways, perhaps they can climb back into the regional hosting conversation.

That’s a long shot at this point.

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