Vanderbilt baseball uses eight-run second inning to beat Texas in College Baseball Showdown

Vanderbilt baseball uses eight-run second inning to beat Texas in College Baseball Showdown

ARLINGTON, Texas — Vanderbilt baseball didn’t waste time getting started in Sunday’s game against Texas, its final contest of the College Baseball Showdown.

The Commodores scored eight runs in the second inning and didn’t look back for its most complete outing of the event. No. 10 Vanderbilt (2-1) hit the ball hard and got strong pitching to finish with a drama-free 12-2 win over the No. 24 Longhorns (0-3).

Parker Noland (3-for-5, double, triple), RJ Austin (2-for-5), RJ Schreck (2-for-5, triple) and TJ McKenzie (2-for-4, two doubles) all had multi-hit games.

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Eight-run second

Vanderbilt got on the board early with eight runs in the second inning. The Commodores took advantage of four errors but also hit the ball hard, with two triples (one each by Parker Noland and RJ Schreck) and a grand slam by catcher Alan Espinal, just the second home run of his career. Vanderbilt hit four balls over 100 mph in the inning.

Calvin Hewett also had a unique accomplishment, reaching on two errors in the inning and stealing three bases.

Futrell effective

The Commodores opted to start sophomore lefty Devin Futrell against Texas. Futrell, a freshman All-SEC Team selection last season, starred in midweeks last season before stepping into a bigger role against SEC teams in May. Against the Longhorns, Futrell showed the same ability he did a year ago, throwing an efficient five innings and allowing two runs with three walks and five strikeouts.

Though Futrell allowed some hard contact in the fifth inning, including a home run, he minimized damage and showed his usual strike-throwing ability, proving that despite some of the struggles at the end of last season, he remains a viable Sunday starter option.

Sophomore right-hander Bryce Cunningham relieved Futrell and was also effective. He pitched four scoreless innings with no hits, one walk and seven strikeouts.

Espinal, McKenzie get a shot

Espinal, the backup catcher, got in the lineup for the first time this season and immediately announced his presence with the grand slam. Joining him was McKenzie, who started in right field and went 2-for-4 with two doubles.

Espinal could begin to challenge Jack Bulger for the starting catcher job, as Bulger was out of the lineup against Texas and didn’t have a hit on the weekend. McKenzie took the spot of Matthew Polk in the lineup while RJ Schreck slid over to designated hitter. Those three, along with Hewett, will likely continue to battle for starting lineup spots in the outfield and DH throughout the season.