Herz interview with Kendall | Kendall | Sheffield | Delay | Corbin
Nashville, Tenn. – No. 3 Vanderbilt started 2016 with a bang on Friday afternoon with an 8-4 win at Hawkins Field in front of an opening day record crowd of 3,054.
Sophomore Jeren Kendall was impressive in the lid lifter going 4-for-5 with two home runs and a career-best five RBI. The Holmen, Wisc. native was involved early and often scoring the second run of the game on a Bryan Reynolds’ double in the third inning. San Diego (0-1) bounced back, however, in the top of the fourth with two runs to trim the VU lead to a single run but Kendall quickly took back those two runs in the bottom half of the inning with a towering blast over the bleachers in right-center field for a two-run shot. Freshman Connor Kaiser reached base to lead off the sixth inning and Kendall cashed in on the opportunity, driving a RBI-single to left field. Kendall then capped his career game with another two-run home run in the eighth inning, sending this one over the bleachers in right field to put the game away for the Commodores (1-0).
Kendall’s four hits match his career-high while his two homers, five RBI and three runs all set new career marks. Dating back to last season, Kendall has now hit six home runs and driven in 21 runs over 17 games while hitting .328 (20-for-61). He is the first Commodore to homer twice in a game since Dansby Swanson did it in last season’s SEC Tournament win over Missouri.
Not to be overshadowed was Jordan Sheffield’s performance as the sophomore tossed five solid innings, allowing two runs, one earned, on four hits while matching his career-best with seven strikeouts. The right-hander was dominant early in the game striking out four of the first six batters he faced. An error to open the fourth inning led to trouble when San Diego’s Riley Adams lined a double into right-center field to score two runs and narrow the Vandy lead to one run with only one out. Sheffield bounced back with a strikeout and picked up a nice play from Kaiser at shortstop, who fielded a deflection off Sheffield before making the throw to first to end the frame. Sheffield’s night came to an end as he pitched out of a two runners on jam, getting a one-hopper back to the mound to end the threat.
Jason Delay also posted a career-night, matching his career-best with three hits. The junior scored the first run of the season in the second inning when he doubled and came around to score on Kaiser’s bases loaded walk. Delay drove in a run in the Dores’ two-run third inning before tacking on a single in the seventh. Kaiser scored two runs in his collegiate debut.
Matt Ruppenthal closed the victory down for the Dores to earn his first career save. The big right-hander punched out two and allowed one hit over 1.2 innings. Freshman Patrick Raby made his collegiate debut, allowing two runs on three hits in 2.1 innings.
Preseason All-American Bryson Brigman led the way for the Toreros with three hits and two RBI. San Diego starter Troy Conyers was saddled with the loss after allowing five runs on six hits and four walks in 3.2 innings.
The Commodores and Toreros tangle tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. at Hawkins Field.