VandyBoys: From Winning a Natty, to a Cancelled Season

AP Photo/John Peterson

The 2019 College Baseball Season was completely dominated by Tim Corbin and the VandyBoys from February all the way through June at the College World Series. Maintaining an overall record of 59-12 (23-7) and going 28-5 at Hawkins Field was an amazing accomplishment to be proud of. Not only that, Corbin and company also won the SEC Regular Season crown, SEC Tournament title, and finished it off by winning the 2nd CWS title in school history defeating the Michigan Wolverines in high fashion. This was one of the most dominant seasons ever by any Baseball program on any level. This Vandyboys lineup was loaded with speed, power, and athleticism 1-9 and also put on a huge show for the fans at the Hawk.

Austin Martin and JJ Bleday sparked the lineup at the top and carried all through it. The pitching staff was as deep as it gets at the College level. The weekend rotation excelled every time under Drake Fellows, freshman standout Kumar Rocker, and Patrick Raby. Mason Hickman was outstanding taking the midweek role most of the season registering a 9-0 record with a 2.05 ERA. The bullpen was carried by closer Tyler Brown, Jake Eder, Hugh Fisher, Zach King, and Ethan Smith. Jackson Gillis and Chance Huff were also key contributors to the success of the bullpen during the 2019 season. This was one of the deepest rosters Tim Corbin and his staff had ever coached at the helm for the Vanderbilt Baseball program.

The VandyBoys and the city of Nashville made it evident they were playing for former Athletic Director David Williams and former pitcher Donny Everett which would have been his Senior season for the program. This 2019 season will be remembered for years and years to come for Commodore nation and many others around the country.

Now we take a look at the 2020 Vanderbilt Baseball team. Coming into this season, the VandyBoys were forced to have a major reload due to losing six of nine position players, two weekend starters, and key bullpen arms. Departures from Seniors such as Stephen Scott, Julian Infante, Ethan Paul, Patrick Raby, AJ Franklin, and Kiambu Fentress was heavy. Also losing top draft pick JJ Bleday including Sophomores Phillip Clarke and Pat Demarco who were eligible for the 2019 MLB Draft. Even worse quality arms Hugh Fisher and Chance Huff were out for the 2020 season deciding to have offseason Tommy John surgery.

The only returning starters were infielders Austin Martin and Harrison Ray and Catcher Ty Duvall who was the DH during the College World Series run. This would not be a drop off by any means as many new faces around the program stepped up and took these roles during the shortened 2020 campaign due to the pandemic outbreak. The VandyBoys maintained an overall record of 13-5 and were 11-1 at the Hawk. The entire SEC slate was eventually canceled. Fortunately though, Tyler Brown hinted at a return next season on Instagram:

Instagram

The weekend rotation was filled by returning starters Mason Hickman, Kumar Rocker, and was finished off by Jake Eder who moved from the bullpen last season. The freshman phenom Jake Leiter was brilliant in the midweek role registering a 2-0 record with a 1.72 ERA in 4 appearances for the Commodores. Austin Martin led off with a bang batting .377 and was followed by talented outfielder Cooper Davis who registered a .348 Batting Average. Talented Freshmen CJ Rodriguez, Parker Noland, Spencer Jones, and Carter Young stepped into starting roles and excelled early in the season. Sophomores Dominic Keegan, Isaiah Thomas, Tate Kolwyck, and Justyn-Henry Malloy were steady and consistent for Tim Corbin in the middle of the VandyBoys lineup day in and day out.

Seniors Harrison Ray and Ty Duvall were a huge part of the teams success with the bats and defensively for the Commodores. This 2020 team was very underclassmen heavy and had their struggles early on, but were ready to take off when the offense clicked as a whole later in the season. 

Coach Corbin and his staff will have a loaded 2021 roster with the NCAA granting another year of eligibility for all Spring Sports. It will be tough at times for Corbin and his staff to find a role for every one of his players during the course of next season due to the unlimited scholarships. The Vandyboys will be very hungry again to repeat as College World Series Champions as the 2020 Season was unfortunately canceled in mid March just like all other sporting events around the country.

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