Vanderbilt baseball survives scare, beats Oklahoma State at College Baseball Showdown

Vanderbilt baseball survives scare, beats Oklahoma State at College Baseball Showdown

ARLINGTON, Texas — Vanderbilt baseball survived an eighth-inning scare to get its first win of the season, defeating Oklahoma State, 11-9, in the second game of the College Baseball Showdown on Saturday.

The Commodores (1-1) got an early nine-run lead but a six-run eighth inning for the Cowboys (1-1) chopped down on Vanderbilt’s lead as several poor defensive plays extended the inning. A fly ball dropped in no-man’s land and shortstop Davis Diaz booted and then overthrew what could’ve been a double-play grounder. The Commodores were forced to put last year’s closer Thomas Schultz in the game.

Nick Maldonado, who closed games in 2021, came in for the ninth inning and struck out Roc Riggio to secure the save.

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Second-inning outburst

Vanderbilt batted around in a seven-run second inning that included five singles, a triple, two walks and a hit-by-pitch. A Matthew Polk triple was the highlight as eight straight batters reached base at one point. Every batter who came to the plate reached base in that inning except Jack Bulger.

That was after the Commodores put up two runs in the first inning thanks to a Calvin Hewett double. Hewett also got a triple in the fourth inning and came home on an RJ Austin single to extend Vanderbilt’s lead.

Austin, a freshman third baseman, got his first career hit in the second inning and then tacked on a second single in the fourth inning before stealing second, advancing to third on a groundout and scoring on a wild pitch.

Electric arms

Vanderbilt surprised many by naming junior lefty Hunter Owen the Saturday starter, but Owen showed out in his second career start. Showing a fastball that topped out at 97 mph along with a slider, curveball and changeup, Owen struck out six batters and walked three while allowing two runs and made his case to be the back half of a left-handed one-two punch with Friday starter Carter Holton.

Freshman Andrew Dutkanych, one of the top recruits in the country, relieved Owen and showed good velocity on his fastball and slider but struggled to find the strike zone.

Big-time baserunning

Vanderbilt’s team this season is built around speed and athleticism and that certainly showed up against the Pokes. The Commodores were frequently aggressive, taking the extra base on hits, advancing on flyouts and putting pressure on the pitchers.

Austin, Polk and Hewett also showed their value as baserunners behind Enrique Bradfield Jr., indicating that this is a team that could wreak real havoc on the basepaths top to bottom.