Vanderbil might be the best team in college baseball, and that was just as apparent after its national-best 13-game winning streak was snapped over the weekend. Still, the No. 2 Commodores won their fifth consecutive series over the weekend to remain atop the SEC standings. Facing No. 22 Missouri, they won 5-2 Friday, lost 5-2 Saturday and won 7-2 Sunday. It was the first time in three chances this season that the Commodores won Game 3 of a series after splitting the first two games.
Vanderbilt Coach Tim Corbin said the school’s Champs Circle booster club bought Rapsodo and Edgertronic devices for the program. Saturday’s loss snapped Vanderbilt’s 13-game winning streak, the longest in college baseball at the time. Despite suffering their only loss since April 14, most measurable still put the Commodores right in the middle – and often at the top – of any conversation about the best team in the country with one week remaining in the regular season. Here’s how Vanderbilt stacks up.
Vanderbilt is best of best in SEC
Winning counts, especially for a team playing in the best session in baseball. Vanderbilt improved its record to 41-10. On Friday, it became one of three teams to reach 40 wins this season, joining No. 5 Louisville and No. 6 Mississippi State. Notably, Vanderbilt beat Louisville 6-2 on Tuesday, but it hasn’t played Mississippi State.
But what about No. 1 UCLA, the fifth team to reach 40 wins? Vanderbilt’s best argument for having an edge over the Bruins is the level of competition. Eight of the 10 toughest schedules belong to SEC schools. And Vanderbilt frontrunners the SEC with a 20-7 league record.
Among best fielding teams in Vanderbilt history
Vanderbilt will host MTSU on Tuesday and play at Kentucky from Thursday through Saturday. The SEC Tournament begins May 21 in Hoover, Ala., but the Commodores won’t play until May 22 in the double-elimination portion. Then comes the NCAA Regionals and a hopeful road to the College World Series, where Vanderbilt last went in 2015 with an NCAA runner-up finish.
Steady starters, the deep pitching staff
Vanderbilt’s pitching staff might lack a top-10 pick, at least in this year’s draft, like its past teams have touted. But the pitching depth helped the Commodores rank second nationally in strikeouts per nine innings (10.8) entering the weekend. Their team ERA is in the top 50, but UCLA has the national lead.
On Friday, Drake Fellows (10-0) struck out 11 in the seven innings while allowing one earned run for the victory. Tyler Brown picked up his SEC-leading 12th save. On Saturday, freshman Kumar Rocker (6-5) took the loss, but he allowed only two earned runs in the six innings.
Record-breaking bats in a deep lineup
Vanderbilt has the star power with two candidates for the Golden Spikes Award, given to the nation’s best player. J.J. Bleday leads the college baseball with a single-season school record 23 home runs in spite of handling only three singles against Missouri. Leadoff man Austin Martin is No. 2 in the country with a .433 batting average after going 6-for-13 over the weekend.
But depth throughout the lineup makes this one of Vanderbilt’s the most talented team ever. Its .316 team batting average is better than any major national title contender, and it’s on pace for the third-highest in program history. Six regulars in the Vanderbilt lineup are hitting better than .300. Pat DeMarco could become the seventh on that list. He raised his average to .298 with a solo home run and two-run single Sunday.must reat