By Max Herz
Ty Duvall's patience has paid off in his two years at Vanderbilt.
The sophomore catcher started his first SEC game Sunday afternoon, leading the Commodores to a dramatic 8-7 win over Ole Miss. Duvall's game-winning, three-run double in the bottom of the sixth inning sealed a doubleheader sweep and a series win on home turf.
"I just love stories like that," Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin said. "I love situations where guys just keep working hard and they don't say anything. He's a low maintenance kid. He doesn't whine. He just does his thing."
Duvall has spent most of his two years at Vanderbilt simply waiting and working. Learning under senior backstop Jason Delay as a freshman in 2017, Duvall bided his time for 17 games before finally making his first start on March 14. He merely went 3-for-3 with a double and two RBI in freezing temperatures.
This season, a concussion just weeks before opening day sidetracked the sophomore's plans and limited him to midweek and late-inning duty. On Sunday, after spending his first 44 conference games listed among the Dores' pinch-hitters, Duvall finally saw his name break into the starting nine vs. Ole Miss.
"I knew I was ready," Duvall said. "The biggest thing was, it was my first start, heart's beating a little bit fast. Gotta remember to breathe."
In his first at-bat, Duvall shot a line drive into the right field corner for an RBI triple. With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the sixth, he sent another laser down the right field line for a bases-clearing triple, turning a 7-5 deficit into an 8-7 lead that held.
After playing hero and framing one final strike from Jackson Gillis on the inside corner to clinch the win, Duvall reflected on the lengthy road to catching a conference game for the Commodores.
"I trusted Corbs and the decision of when my time would come. In the meantime, leading up to that, I just tried to get better every single day," Duvall said. "I just wanted to trust him and never doubt or question or get frustrated with how things were going. I tried to stay patient and get better every single day and then, when my time came, I knew I was ready because of all the time and effort I put in."
"He's passionate about what he does and he thinks baseball all the time," Corbin said. "I'm very happy for him and the team."