There’s no better way to start the 2022 college baseball season than a top 25 matchup in Nashville, Tennessee. The 2021 National Championship runner-up Vanderbilt Commodores hosted Oklahoma State to open the season in a must-see matchup.
After the Commodores won the season opener 3-0, the Cowboys finished the weekend with back-to-back wins, propelling the Cowboys to No. 4 in the country.
Here are five things we learned from this weekend’s series:
1. Oklahoma State’s starting pitching is legit
Ahead of this weekend’s series, the conversation regarding starting pitching was focused on Vanderbilt’s. While the Commodores’ rotation is one of the deepest in college baseball, Oklahoma State’s top three starting pitchers impressed this weekend.
Even with the loss charged to him, Justin Campbell showed much promise for the Cowboys on Friday. Striking out eight over his four innings of work, Campbell showcased his elite 12-6 curveball. In a great start to the season, Campbell proved his worth as a projected top 100 prospect for the upcoming 2022 MLB Draft.
Victor Mederos and Bryce Osmond each had quality outings to fill out the weekend. Both pitchers got many swing-and-misses, as Mederos struck out six over four innings and Osmond struck out eight over five.
Through the first series of the year—on the road against one of the best teams in the nation—Oklahoma State has already proved that all three starters are going to be incredibly valuable this season in the Big 12. They’ll need to continue this early success as the Cowboys have one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country.
2. Vanderbilt’s missed opportunities became costly
After taking advantage of early opportunities Friday, in each of Vanderbilt’s next two games they had multiple opportunities to overtake the Cowboys.
Saturday, with Vanderbilt already trailing 3-0 in the third inning, the Commodores loaded the bases with nobody out and their clean-up hitter—Dominic Keegan—up to the plate.
Keegan struck out on a wild pitch, but the runner from third couldn’t advance. The next batter, Parker Noland, struck out and Carter Young grounded out on the first pitch to him. Oklahoma State escaped unscathed. Vanderbilt lost the game 4-3.
Sunday, even though Vanderbilt was able to comeback from an original deficit, in the eighth inning they had runners on the corners with nobody out and the bases loaded with one out. A sac fly brought in the tying run, but another strikeout with the go-ahead run just 90 feet away left the game tied. In the ninth, Oklahoma State was able to regain the lead and hold it. Vanderbilt failed to get the big hit.
3. Trevor Martin is OSU’s X-Factor
After a solid freshman season posting a 4.60 ERA, Oklahoma State’s Trevor Martin came into the season as perhaps the Cowboys’ most important reliever. He proved that he can fill this role during opening weekend.
Martin pitched both Saturday and Sunday. After allowing two runners on Saturday from a walk and hit-by-pitch, Martin was able to induce three strikeouts, including one with two outs and the tying run on third.
When Martin entered the game on Thursday, he allowed a sacrifice fly to the first batter he faced, but struck out the next batter with the go-ahead run on third. After his offense gave him a two-run lead, Martin cruised with a 1-2-3 ninth inning, striking out two.
Martin was fantastic. If Oklahoma State plans on him being the closer all year long, they’re in good hands. The 6-foot-3 sophomore already has proved he can pitch in the big stage in the big moments.
4. Chris McElvain was the right choice for Friday’s starter; Vanderbilt’s depth at SP is immense
When Vanderbilt’s starting rotation was announced for this weekend, many heads were scratched when Christian Little and Patrick Riley were not included.
The three pitchers that started—Chris McElvain, Nick Maldonado, and Carter Holton—were the right selections.
McElvain was unbelievable on Opening Day, as he struck out ten over four innings, only allowing four hits; he walked one batter. Although his fastball only sat between 91-93 mph, the ball flew out of his hands. He had an incredibly strong first outing for Vanderbilt, proving that he belongs in this year's rotation.
Riley came out of the bullpen following McElvain’s four innings and was lights out as well. Riley struck out seven only allowing one hit over his four innings.
Little pitched one inning on Sunday, striking out one of the five batters he faced.
5. Apparently electric watches are legal in baseball now
All nine players on the field for Vanderbilt this weekend were wearing electronic watches that relayed signs. They are “electronic display boards,” which are now legal in NCAA Baseball.
Scott Brown, the Vanderbilt pitching coach, puts numbers into the system that are then relayed to all nine players on the field. The message relayed includes what pitch should be thrown along with where the location should be. The product, provided by Game Day Signals, will allow Vanderbilt’s pitching coach to call every single pitch from the dugout this entire season.