Kumar Rocker and Dominic Keegan lead Vanderbilt in the Presbyterian breakup
Any thoughts that Vanderbilt baseball would have a hangover from the SEC tournament were hastily dispelled in the Nashville Regional on Friday.
Kumar Rocker and No.4 seed Commodores resumed their usual business in a 10-0 win over Presbyterian.
The Commodores (41-15) played a full game on Friday at Hawkins Field, as Rocker dominated the mound and offense gave the team a big early lead against an outmatched opponent.
Vanderbilt, the reigning 2019 national champion, advances in the winner’s category to face Georgia Tech on Saturday at 6 p.m. CT. The Yellow Jackets beat Indiana State 7-6 on Friday.
The offense comes early
Vanderbilt launched his offense from the start, as first year Enrique Bradfield started with a single, Dominic Keegan doubled up and Tate Kolwyck was hit with a pitch. Troy LaNeve brought them all home with a brace with two strikeouts to right field.
In the second, Parker Noland hit a single and Carter Young, on his first comeback from a dislocated shoulder suffered on May 18, beat a single in the infield. Keegan then netted a three-run homerun through left center to give the Commodores a 6-0 lead.
Vanderbilt’s sticks fell silent for the next four innings, with just three hits and no runs, but the Commodores extended their lead in the seventh with Keegan’s second homerun of the game, out of the center batting eye.
LaNeve hit in another run with an RBI single, and Vanderbilt added his last run in eighth on an Isaiah Thomas RBI single.
Rocker showed no signs of his struggles during the SEC tournament. The junior ace kept Presbyterian off balance throughout the game, allowing two hits, two walks and nine strikeouts.
Rocker lasted seven innings, allowing Vanderbilt to preserve his field for subsequent games in the region.
It was exactly the kind of start the Commodores need to continue to get from Rocker, who was chased after a 3 inning after in his last start against No.1 Arkansas.
The Return of Carter Young, Ethan Smith
Coming back from injury, Young was 1-for-3 with a ninth-place walk in sequence and played a solid shortstop defense. Young missed two and a half weeks with a dislocated shoulder as he slipped into second base against Florida International.
According to Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin, Young wanted to come back during the SEC tournament, but Corbin felt it wasn’t worth bringing him in.
His return on Friday gives Vanderbilt more options in the infield and brings the return of one of the Commodores’ best defensive players.
Reliever Ethan Smith also made an appearance in the ninth inning after missing two months following a COVID-related absence. Smith didn’t allow one hit and took two out.
Tate Kolwyck injured
At the end of the seventh, Kolwyck was sent off trying to convert a single into a double. He left the match with an apparent injury to his hand. He was replaced by Jayson Gonzalez in third position; Parker Noland came second.