May 24, 2008
(Photo by Neil Brake) |
Déjà VU - by Rod Williamson
MORE COVERAGE: Vanderbilt 7 Ole Miss 4 (Game 1)
HOOVER, AL---If Vanderbilt's baseball team had a feeling that it had been there and done that as its bus rolled up to Regions Park Saturday morning, there was good reason.
For the second straight year, the Commodores were facing Ole Miss in a weekend loser's bracket game of the Southeastern Conference Tournament. And for the second straight year, the Black and Gold dominated Game One.
The Rebels' home sweep of the `Dores in early April seems as if its ancient history, particularly from a state-of-mind.
In a league full of hardball bullies, only the Rebels can match Vanderbilt's resume here since 2004. In today's opener the Commodores jumped out early and were not seriously threatened, winning 7-4 and setting up a loser-leaves-town rematch later in the day.
It was a step toward making Coach Tim Corbin prophetic. The Commodore skipper opened his post-game comments after Thursday's loss to LSU by saying "now we play six, not four."
It was the power of positive thinking, bolstered by a veteran group of warriors that expect victory.
On this hot and humid Alabama midday, things began quickly. How quick?
Rebel fans had barely completed "Hotty Toddy" when leadoff hitter David Macias turned on a Cory Satterwhite fastball and sent it sailing over the right field fence. Suddenly, thoughts of last year's 13-1 rout in the first game were flashing, possibly through both dugouts.
A five run third inning pushed the margin to 7-2, Dominic de la Osa's bases loaded single doing considerable damage in the process.
From that point on, it was a matter of getting solid pitching and having the defense help as it could. Check and check.
Vanderbilt got four good innings from starter Taylor Hill and four sturdy innings from Brett Jacobson, getting the game into the ninth. Nifty strategic jobs by Richie Goodenow and Russell Brewer closed things out.
Oh, there were those four Rebel batters plunked by Commodore pitchers during the course of action, along with seven walks that occasionally led to an uneasy moment.
But that is where the gloves came in, led by Pedro Alvarez, much better known and feared for his bat. The third baseman turned in at least three slick fielding gems to ease any pain, and that doesn't even consider his part of a near five-four-three triple-play in the eighth that snuffed out a possible Ole Miss rally.
After Brewer came in to throw two pitches and get No. 3 hitter Logan Power to weakly pop out to second base, fans from both schools left the park to cool their heels for the twilight doubleheader game.
Anything can and often does happen in the wacky world of SEC baseball but if you were a Vanderbilt fan, no doubt you were calling home to tell the kids you might be missing tomorrow's church service.
It's the SEC Tournament and Vandy is gaining momentum.