Kumar Keeps Vandy Alive

Kumar Rocker did not have his best stuff, but it was good enough to shut Michigan down to just one run in 6.1 innings. His 93-94 mile per hour fastball early in the game had dropped to 88-90 after the third inning. He still battled relying on his breaking stuff to lead Vanderbilt to a 4-1 win over Michigan. Tyler Brown pitched the last 2.2 innings to preserve the win.

It did not look like this game was going to be played today. Thunderstorm warnings with threats of tornados and hail were in the forecast. Two hours before game time the rain was coming down pretty hard. But by 5 PM it had stopped and despite the dark clouds encircling the stadium the game was played with no rain.

It was a classic pitcher’s duel between Isaiah Paige and Kumar Rocker. Rocker gave up just one hit in his first five innings. Paige went four innings allowing just two hits. Poor fielding and walks were the Wolverines undoing.

The collapse began in the fifth. Harrison Ray began the inning with a single to left center. Ty Duvall swung at the first pitch and grounded what looked to be a double play ball up the middle. Wolverine shortstop Jack Blomgren appeared to try to run to second to start the double play before he actually fielded the ball. The ball zipped past his glove into centerfield for an error, Ray advancing to third. Paige struck out Julian Infante for the first out. Ben Keizer came on in relief. Austin Martin topped a slow grounder to third, Blake Nelson fielding the ball, but his only play was to first, giving the Commodores a 1-0 lead. The Wolverines chose to walk J.J. Bleday intentionally and then a wild pitch put runners on second and third with two out. Ethan Paul was walked intentionally to load the bases. Keizer ran the count to 3-1 to Philip Clarke who appeared to swing at ball four and grounded out to short to end the inning.

It got worse in the fifth. Pat Demarco started the inning with a single. A walk to Stephen Scott put two runners on, Ray bunting the runners to second and third. That ended the day for Keizer and the call went to Jack Weisenburger. Weisenburger had trouble finding the strike zone. He threw a wild pitch to allow DeMarco to score. After walking Ty Duvall he threw another wild pitch to allow Scott to cross the plate. Another walk to Julian Infante was the end for Weisenburger. Angelo Smith came on to strike out the next two hitters to end the inning.

Angelo made it three whiffs in a row when he struck out Ethan Paul to start the seventh. Philip Clarke then smashed a pitch into the right field bullpen to extend the Commodore lead to 4-0.

Kumar gave up a leadoff single to Jack Blomgren in the seventh. A balk advanced Blomgren to second. The Commodores turned early to Tyler Brown to finish the game, knowing that tomorrow they would be done if they did not get the win. Ako Thomas greeted Brown with a single into the third base hole, scoring Blomgren and ending the shutout.

Brown was solid the rest of the way, not allowing a hit after the Thomas single and retiring the last seven hitters in a row.

Game Notes: Myworld prefers to sit on the left field side for general admission. There, you can see the scoreboard and don’t have to continually turn around to eye the video screen…Kumar struck out the side in the second inning and at one point had struck out four in a row. Hitters were swinging and missing at his high fastballs. He finished the day with 11 whiffs…Beach balls were bouncing around the general admission stands between innings while pitchers warmed up. Once the game started the fans showed enough restraint to hold the balls…Fans in general admission chant back and forth “Leftfield sucks” and the people in leftfield would counter with “rightfield sucks”…Vanderbilt likes to use whistles during their at bats. The NCAA would not allow them to use whistles inside the stadium. So they whistled using their mouth instead…The Vandy team has a lot of lefthanded bats in the lineup. A team with lefthanders in the bullpen might be able to tame a number of Vandy rallies.

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