WKU falls to #3 Vanderbilt, Commodores plate 12 runs

Hilltopper Outfielder Jackson Gray (51) misses a swing in WKU’s doubleheader against North Dakota on Monday, Feb. 22.

Wyatt Sparkman

The No. 3 ranked Vanderbilt Commodores (3-0) hosted WKU (1-3) on Wednesday evening for the Hilltoppers’ first road game of the season. Vanderbilt took down WKU 12-1.

“Give Vandy credit, they played a complete game tonight,” head coach John Pawlowski said in a release. “We really didn’t have many opportunities against one of the top teams in the country. It was great to see Jackson Gray continue to have quality at-bats, and Dalton Mesaris showed a clean inning of work. We will go back to work tomorrow and get ourselves ready for a three-game set versus Cincinnati this weekend.”

WKU sophomore right fielder Jackson Gray scored the lone run of the game for the Hilltoppers in the third inning. He went 2-for-2 at the plate with a walk in the eighth inning. 

Commodore junior first baseman Dominic Keegan highlighted the Vandy batters with a three-run homer in the third inning while batting 3-for-3 at the plate with three RBIs against the Hilltoppers. 

Freshman pitcher Christian Little got his first career start and win as a Commodore. Little tossed for three innings while giving up three hits and one run. 

For the Hilltoppers, junior pitcher Aristotle Peter made his first start of the season. He pitched for three innings allowing six runs and six hits with five strikeouts and picked up his first loss of the season. 

WKU senior second baseman Jack Wilson started the game off with a line drive past Vandy’s junior second baseman Tate Kolwyck, but the next batter, senior first baseman Richard Constantine, hit into a double play. Senior Ray Zuberer III grounded out to first base to end the top of the first inning. 

Vandy freshman left fielder Jack Bulger reached first base to start the bottom of the first inning after an error by Wilson. Vandy junior right fielder Isaiah Thomas smashed a double into center field, moving Bulger to third. This allowed the next batter, sophomore designated hitter Parker Noland, to score the first run of the game after a sacrifice groundout, giving Vandy the lead 1-0. 

Peter got out of the first inning with his first strikeout for the season, while a Vandy runner was left stranded on third base. 

The Hilltoppers started the second inning with a single down the third baseline, but senior catcher Matt Phipps hit into a double play to end the top of the second inning. 

Peter hit his first batter of the season, which led to a double from Keegan to place the Commodores on second and third. 

Freshman center fielder Enrique Bradfield Jr. hit a double up the left-field gap for Vandy scoring two runs to extend the Commodore lead 3-0. Vandy sophomore shortstop Carter Young hit a pop-up to end the second inning. 

WKU sophomore right fielder Jackson Gray smashed a double off the left-field wall to start the third inning. He would then advance to third base on a wild pitch. Redshirt freshman third baseman Erik Riffe hit a ground ball to third base and the throw to the plate was missed, allowing Gray to score WKU’s first run of the game. 

Wilson would cap off the top of the inning hitting a ground ball to first base. WKU trailed the Commodores 3-1 going into the bottom of the third. 

Thomas got a single to start the bottom of the third inning for the Commodores. After a walk by Peter, Keegan smashed a home run to push the Commodores’ lead to 6-1. Bradfield Jr. was then caught at second base to end the third inning. 

To start the fourth inning, the Commodores went to lefty freshman pitcher Hunter Owen. In Owen’s first inning the Hilltoppers went three up and three down to start the fourth.     

Beginning the bottom of the fourth, the Hilltoppers placed sophomore pitcher Devyn Terbrak into the game, making his Hilltopper debut. The Commodores extended their lead to 8-1 after an RBI double from Young, scoring a runner from second base, and an error by sophomore second baseman Matthew Meyer.

Kolwyck scored Young on a triple that went off the right-field wall. Terbrak got out of the inning after a ground out to third base. The Commodores led 9-1 after four innings of play.  

Gray smashed a double over the third baseman’s head with two outs but was left stranded on second base after a strikeout to begin the fifth inning. He was stranded on base following senior Kevin Lambert striking out. 

After two walks by Trebrak, Bulger hit an RBI single past Trebrak to extend the Commodore’s lead 10-1. Trebrak got out for the fifth inning by striking out Thomas. 

To start the sixth inning, freshman pitcher Miles Garrett subbed out Owen for the Commodores. Meyer was able to get on base from a walk, but Zuberer popped up to end the top half of the frame. Bradfield Jr. hit a line drive to center field leaving two Commodores stranded in scoring position to end the sixth inning.

The Commodores brought in senior pitcher Hugh Fisher for Garrett to start the seventh inning. The Hilltoppers went three up and three down. 

The Hilltoppers brought in freshman pitcher Luke Stofel in the bottom of the seventh inning. Vandy freshman pinch hitter C.J. Pittaro scored two runs in from second and third on a single. Then Stofel ended the inning with a strikeout.

The Commodores replaced Fisher with freshman pitcher Grayson Moore to start the eighth inning. Gray was able to reach base on a walk, but he was left stranded to end the top of the eight. 

Freshman pitcher Dalton Mesaris rotated in for Stofel to begin the bottom of the eighth. The Commodores went three up and three down to end the eighth inning. 

Freshman pitcher Patrick Reilly came in for Moore in the top of the ninth to close the game for the Commodores. WKU fell to Vanderbilt 12-1 in a lopsided affair.

WKU will host Cincinnati this weekend for the second home series of the season. Friday’s game is at 3 p.m. in Nick Denes Field. Then Saturday and Sunday both begin at 1 p.m.

Baseball beat reporter Wyatt Sparkman can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Wyatt on Twitter at @WyattSparkman3