On Friday night, the Diamond Dogs took the field for the season’s first true road game as the visiting team in Nashville, a city to which the Red and Black’s last visit for a baseball series coincided with the worst flooding to hit the Music City in three decades, though Vanderbilt authorities apparently weren’t clear on whether that warranted a rainout. There was a rain delay in this one, too, but that did not prevent the Classic City Canines from winning a pitchers’ duel, 1-0.
Though not without baserunners, the first two and a half innings were hitless. That streak was snapped when Alex Wood surrendered a leadoff single in the bottom of the third canto, but the base hit was negated when a Vandy runner was caught stealing for the first of four times over the course of the evening. Accordingly, the scoreless tie was broken when third baseman Curt Powell led off the top of the fourth frame with a home run.
That 1-0 lead appeared imperiled when the Commodores carded a pair of one-out singles in the home half of the stanza, but, after a fielder’s choice put runners at the corners with two outs away, Wood persuaded the next Vanderbilt batter to chase strike three on a payoff pitch. Subsequently, however, the aforementioned one-hour rain delay in the home half of the fifth inning ended Wood’s time on the mound after the starter plunked a hitter. Chase Hawkins erased the baserunner by coaxing a double-play grounder out of the first batter he faced.
The sixth canto started with right fielder Peter Verdin being hit by a pitch, advancing to second on a wild pitch, and advancing to third on a passed ball. Powell got aboard with a one-out bunt, only to see the scoring opportunity squandered when shortstop Kyle Farmer turned the first pitch he saw into a double-play grounder. In the bottom of the same frame, Hawkins walked the leadoff batter, surrendered a stolen base when fanning Mike Yastrzemski (yes, that Yastrzemski), and permitted the runner to advance to third on a flyout. Bryan Benzor then came in from the bullpen and struck out the first batter he faced.
There were baserunners in the seventh and eighth stanzas, but the real drama was reserved for the ninth inning. In the visitors’ turn at the plate, the Red and Black notched back-to-back two-out base hits, only to have first baseman Colby May pop up on the first pitch. When the home team came up to bat, the Music City Mariners carded consecutive one-out singles off of Blake Dieterich. The Georgia closer struck out the next batter, then catcher Brandon Stephens’s throw to Farmer caught the Commodores stealing to end the game.
Of the ten total hits tallied by the two teams, the batter was ahead in the count when the ball was put into play on just two of them, which attests to the fine pitching performances by both ball clubs. The four Georgia hurlers between them struck out ten, walked two, and gave up neither an extra-base hit nor a run. While the Bulldog offense was anemic in carding three hits, two walks, and one run, Powell’s move to the second spot in the batting order proved justified, as the lone Red and Black hit of the first eight innings produced the contest’s only, and winning, run.