Fantastic finish or good start?
It really does not matter to Vanderbilt baseball players and coach Tim Corbin, who twice — in as many tries — have come from behind to win the final game of a Southeastern Conference series.
The latest was Saturday’s 9-8 victory over Kentucky. The Commodores trailed 7-0 after the top of the fourth but scored at least once in five of their final six at-bats capped by a three-run ninth inning. Sophomore Riley Reynolds drove in the winning run with a two-out, bases loaded walk.
In completing the comeback, Vanderbilt (21-4, 4-2 in the SEC) also capped off weekend sweep of the Wildcats. It won the opener 7-0 on Friday and then won 2-1 in Game Two earlier Saturday. The teams agreed to play a doubleheader on Saturday because of the forecast of rain on Sunday.
“Our guys could have just been satisfied with the series win and they weren't and that says something,” coach Tim Corbin said. “I am proud of them.”
What remains to be seen is whether Saturday’s rally simply capped a particularly good weekend or generated even more momentum for a team that has won six straight — half of them by one run.
A week earlier, the Commodores avoided being swept at Alabama when they overcame an early 4-1 deficit and won 5-4.
“(That) was a big win for us and kind of carried over into a couple of our mid-week games,” designated hitter Bryan Johns said. “We played real well Wednesday, and we came out (Friday) night and put a lot of pressure on Kentucky in every inning.”
Vanderbilt scored in the first inning and led the entire way in the first two games of the series.
In the first half of Saturday’s doubleheader, a two-run first courtesy of a passed ball and an RBI single by Andrew Giobbi accounted for the Commodores’ scoring. Relief pitcher Chase Reid allowed one hit in three innings after the Wildcats had cut the deficit in half.
On Friday night, Giobbi’s RBI single made it 1-0, and starter Sonny Gray threw seven complete innings.
Those performances came after mid-week victories over Lipscomb (10-4) and Wright State (18-2), two other games in which Vanderbilt never trailed.
“I think we got some momentum from what happened (at Alabama) and feeding off of Sunday’s game,” Corbin said. “… That was really the most energy we’ve had up to this point in the season when it was kind of a must-win situation. It kind of leaked into the middle week and we fed off it into (the weekend).”
This time, it wasn’t on a Sunday but the comeback was considered important. The impact will be known this week when Vanderbilt plays two games against Wofford (Tuesday and Wednesday at Hawkins Field) and then travels to Florida for its next set of conference contests.