It was a night for agriculture and commerce as the only SEC baseball action was in the state of Tennessee to close out a moderately successful midweek for the conference. While the conference went 7-6 on Tuesday night with some key college baseball postseason losses, the 2-0 run on Wednesday night at least helps salve the wound a little.
The only College Baseball Central Top 25 team playing on the night was the No. 2 Vanderbilt Commodores who were in action for the second straight night, looking to sweep the Wofford Terries in a midweek, two-game set after shutting them out 6-0 on Tuesday. The Tennessee Volunteers looked to shake the frustrating remnant of a 2-1 series loss to the Dores this weekend with a trip across the state line to visit the Arkansas State Red Wolves for the fifth time in school history.
No. 2 Vanderbilt Tops Wofford On Swanson, Wiseman, Wiel Homers
The No. 2 Vanderbilt Commodores (24-6) have a beast of a lineup and the monsters of the middle made sure the Wofford Terriers (23-9) had no doubts about their prowess as Dansby Swanson, Rhett Wiseman and Zander Wiel each hit solo homers in a 5-3 win on Thursday night.
Swanson had the better game of the trio opening his night by slapping the first pitch he saw down the line in left for a double that moved Wiseman, who walked in the prior at bat, to third from which he scored three pitches later on a Wiel sac fly. Bryan Reynolds drove the payoff pitch to center, scoring Swanson as Vandy jumped to a 2-0 lead.
In the third, after the Terriers cut the lead to 2-1, Swanson hit his fifth homer of the season to push the lead back to two runs at 3-1. The Dores then chased Wofford starter Jordan Accetta from the game as Wiseman led off the inning with his fifth long ball and Wiel added his team-leading sixth homer to extend the lead to 5-1.
If you add Reynolds to the trio, which you should because he’s mashing the ball equally, the monsters of the middle hit for a slash of .416/1.250/.500 while scoring and driving in all five Vanderbilt runs on the night.
The Dores are accommodated to the production as this group has yet to slow down with Wiel hitting lowest at .352, Reynolds at the bottom of the group in slugging percentage and on base percentage at .525 and .438 respectively. Most schools would be thrilled to have just one of these sluggers on the roster while the Dores enjoy the abundance of all four.
Not to be lost on the night was the performance that up-and-down starter John Kilichowski put together which was arguably his season’s best work. The sophomore southpaw allowed an earned run over six on four hits and a pair of walks with eight strikeouts.
The 6’5” 200-pound hurler rebounded well from his four earned run over 3.2 inning start at Middle Tennessee State last week. His prior best start was in against Illinois State in which he allowed two hits and walks while striking out six over 5.1 scoreless frames.
If Kilichowski keeps putting together quality starts while the monsters in the middle keep blasting the baseball the Vanderbilt squad will look even stronger in their bid to repeat as they are in our mid-season College Baseball National Seeds Projections.
Christin Stewart Homers Twice as Tennessee Bests Arkansas State
Left fielder Christin Stewart hit two shots that left the yard to lead the Tennessee Volunteers (12-13) to a 7-4 win over the Arkansas State Red Wolves (12-15) on Tuesday Night. Stewart now leads the team with eight long balls on the season as his smoldering hot season continued for the Vols.
The six-foot, 200-pound junior out of Lawrenceville, Georgia reached base four times on the night, but it was the two times he did so with his bat that were the problem for Arkansas State. The left-handed slugger is a step behind his 2014 average at .302 (.330) but has eclipsed his slugging percentage (.663 to .541) and is getting on base more frequently (.440 to .386) as evidenced by his pace to break his career high for walks in a season.
However, it’s the power bat that is outstanding with a .361 isolated slugging percentage for the season and his eight homers doubles his career total at Tennessee (3 in 2013, 5 in 2014). His bat pulled the Vols out of an early 3-1 hole to take a 4-3 lead in the fifth with a three-run blast and then his two-run shot in the ninth added a pair of insurance runs and extended the lead to 7-4.
“This slugger looks like a solid force in the Volunteers’ lineup. On this night, he imposed his will at the dish and his team was all the better for it.” – Minimalist Mark, College Baseball RPI Analyst
Lead-off sensation Nick Senzel went 4-for-5 and scored twice, including the games’ first run after doubling in the first at bat on the night.