(Photo Courtesy of Mississippi State Athletics)
Anyone who has ever played baseball has heard the phrase, “errors will kill you.” That was the case Sunday in Nashville as the Bulldogs committed 2 costly errors that led to Vanderbilt runs, and ultimately, cost the Dawgs the game and the series by a 7-4 final. The Boys in Maroon stormed out to a 4-0 lead in the first 2 innings, but continually shot themselves in the foot en route to the loss.
Freshman righty Jackson Fristoe (3-3) got the nod on the bump for the Bulldogs and had a career start for the first 4 frames before encountering trouble in the 5th. Fristoe went 4.1 innings, giving up 5 runs (4 earned) on 5 hits and fanning 6. He was followed by Houston Harding, Parker Stinnett, Cam Tullar, and Mikey Tepper.
The Bulldogs came out of the gate on fire, scoring 3 runs in the first and chasing Vandy starter Patrick Reilly after just 0.1 inning. Rowdey Jordan and Tanner Allen both walked to start the contest before Luke Hancock doubled to score Jordan. Logan Tanner then drew a walk, and Scotty Dubrule followed with a 2 run single to make the score 3-0. Tanner Allen added the Bulldogs’ last run in the top of the 2nd on a solo shot to dead center to make the score 4-0. After that, the meltdown ensued. Vanderbilt scored 2 runs in the bottom of the 4th when a leadoff triple came home on a groundout, and then an E5 let a runner advance to 2nd and then score on a single to make the score 4-2. The Commodores took the lead in the bottom of the 5th when a single and a walk put 2 runners on, and a 3-run home run gave the home team the lead that they never relinquished. Vandy added 2 more in the bottom of the 6th when a walk was followed by a fielder’s choice to put two runners on. A bunt moved the runners over before a single put the Commodores up 7-4 and put the game virtually out of reach, with Vandy’s best reliever on the bump. The Bulldogs were held quiet to finish the game and the faithful were sent home with a bad taste in their mouths as the Boys in Maroon made a few too many mistakes to take the series. The Diamond Dawgs left the bases loaded twice in the early innings and that, no doubt, proved to be the death nail on the day.
Tanner Allen continued his hot streak in the defeat, going 3-5 with a double and a big fly. Luke Hancock had an RBI double, and Scotty Dubrule added a 2 RBI single.
Before Jackson Fristoe encountered trouble in the 5th, the freshman was having a career day. The Commodores had nothing for him, and he showed why he was so highly touted out of high school.
Recap and Box Score can be found here
This Bulldog team is immensely talented. Though this weekend leaves a sour taste, this team showed that all the tools are there for a postseason run. The problem facing the Diamond Dawgs currently is the inability to make everything click at one time. On any given day, the bottom of the lineup can provide hits, the starting pitching is dominant late into games, the infield defense is solid, or the whole lineup is finding a way to “get on, get over, and get in”, but making all those things happen at one has been the problem facing the Boys in Maroon all year. It must be noted though that this team, though experienced in areas, is incredibly young on average. With the exception of Hatcher, Rowdey, and TA, the rest of the lineup, and much of the pitching rotation had little to no SEC experience coming into this year. While this is no excuse, growing pains were inevitable, and I would much rather have them in the regular season so we can get through them before it really counts in the regionals onward. I’m as guilty as anyone of jumping the gun and announcing the sky is falling. Maybe that why I have waited until today, a day after the loss, to write this. Sometimes, we, as fans, have to back away from the ledge and look at the bigger picture. This team is going to be a problem for opponents this year and for years to come. So, take a deep breath because, in the words of Tanner Allen, “We are fine.”
The Bulldogs look to right the ship this weekend with a 3-game tilt against Texas A&M inside the friendly confines of Dudy Noble Field. First pitch is scheduled for Friday at 6:30pm CT.
Now, how about some music? Though Steve Robertson claims they’re overrated, he would be wrong, here’s some Nirvana.