Recapping: Tough day in the Desert for Vandy Boys in Season Opener
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Michigan’s Matthew Schmidt hit a two-run home run in the top of the ninth to give Michigan a 4-3 win over Vanderbilt in the 2020 season opener at Salt River Fields in the MLB4 Tournament.
The Wolverines (1-0) were down to their final two outs before a one-out Clark Elliott single brought Schmidt to the plate. He took a 1-1 pitch from Vandy closer Tyler Brown out to left for the eventual game-winner.
Vandy had the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the ninth but couldn’t plate the game-tying or winning run.
Vanderbilt (0-1) returns to action at 6 p.m. CT Saturday against UConn (0-1) which lost its opener 6-0 on Friday to Cal Poly.
The Dores had rallied for two runs in the bottom of the seventh and looked poised to start the year off with a victory.
Trailing 2-1, Spencer Jones and Justyn-Henry Malloy drew back-to-back, one-out walks to begin the rally. Michigan reliever Cameron Weston (0-1) then came in to face pinch-hitter Parker Noland.
Noland rolled a base hit through the right side to tie the game at 2-2. Harrison Ray came up and dropped down a perfect safety squeeze up the first-base line to score Malloy giving Vandy a 3-2 advantage.
Brown (0-1) worked around a one-out single in the eighth but couldn’t close things out in the ninth. Michigan won this round of a rematch of the 2019 College World Series finals.
Vanderbilt junior Mason Hickman started the game on the mound for the Commodores and went five innings. He surrendered one run (unearned) on three hits, struck out three, walked two and threw 87 pitches.
Ethan Smith threw two innings and struck out three while bridging the gap to Brown.
The Commodores had taken the lead early before falling behind late.
CJ Rodriguez drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the first ahead of Austin Martin and then took second and third on a wild pitch. Martin rolled a 3-0 offering to short to score Rodriguez making it 1-0.
Hickman ran into a bit of trouble in the fourth when Joe Donovan walked and Jack Blomgren ripped a single to right. Riley Bertram hit a sharp grounder to second that Ray scooped before throwing to second for the force – but short stop Carter Young’s throw to first skipped away which allowed Donovan to score and tie the game.
Facing Vandy’s Smith to start the seventh, Bertram rolled a ball to first that went right under the glove of Jones. Bertram moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and then quickly stole third.
An 0-1 pitch to Schmidt then skipped to the backstop and allowed Bertam to give the Wolverines a 2-1 lead before the wild last couple innings.
Michigan starter Jeff Criswell went 6 1/3 and gave up one earned run on two hits. He fanned five and walked four on 90 pitches. Isaiah Page got the save for the Wolverines.