Strikeouts plentiful, not necessarily preferred for Vanderbilt baseball

Sunday, February 24, 2013 at 10:47pm
Staff reports

Tyler Beede struck out the first six batters he faced Saturday – and that was about the worst thing any Vanderbilt starting pitcher did in a weekend sweep of Monmouth.

Beede, Kevin Ziomek and Philip Pfeifer each went at least six innings, combined for 26 strikeouts, four walks and just nine hits allowed as the Commodores improved to 7-1 on the season.

They opened the series with a 5-1 victory Friday, followed with an 11-1 triumph on Saturday and concluded it with a 13-1 romp on Sunday.

“The focus coming into Friday [was] really inducing as much contact as possible [from their hitters],” coach Tim Corbin said. “I thought from Kevin to Tyler to Phil those kids did a nice job with that.”

Except when they simply blew away Monmoth’s hitters, of course.

Ziomek struck out a career-high 11, including 10 of 12 beginning in the second inning, when he went seven innings Friday. Beede matched Ziomek with seven innings pitched and struck out just three in his final five innings.

If they weren’t necessarily part of the plan, the strikeouts were at least well-timed in that the majority of them came early in contests.

Vanderbilt led just 2-1 through five innings of the opener but built a cushion with two runs in the sixth and one in the seventh. Beede got his fielders more involved after the Commodores went ahead 4-0 with three runs in the second and followed with two more in the third.

“As we started scoring more runs … we put up a three-spot, a two-spot in consecutive innings and that was just something that made me feel really comfortable,” Beede said. “For any pitcher you just want to pound the zone, get back in and keep the momentum going for the offense.”

Pfeifer, a starter for the second time in five days, struck out six in six innings. He left with a 5-0 lead having thrown 90 pitches. Ziomek and Beede each threw 93 pitches in their seven innings.

“I think [Pfeifer] just kind of matched what the rest of the guys gave us,” Corbin said. “… He probably wanted to go out there a little bit more but we thought he had reached his max.

“… He induced contact, and I think that’s the most important thing. I think our staff did as a whole this weekend.”

At times.