by Matt Sefcovic (@MattSefcovic)
Heading into the weekend, it was uncertain if and when this series would take place due to inclement weather in Stillwater. After the Friday evening game was postponed, Saturday and Sunday provided plenty of excitement for the much anticipated series between the Commodores and Cowboys. The Vanderbilt pitching staff was just too much for an Oklahoma State offense that was struggling going into the series, batting just .235 after the conclusion of the weekend. Although Vanderbilt was missing Dominic Keegan, their top hitter, and Luke Murphy, due to COVID protocols, the Commodores were able to secure the series in Stillwater.
This should come as no surprise to anyone that Kumar Rocker was dominant in game one of the series on Saturday afternoon, striking out 9 batters through 8 innings, allowing just 2 hits. Rocker (4-0) has yet to surrender an earned run this season through 23 innings. In a game that took just 2 hours and 38 minutes, Vanderbilt did not exactly tear the cover off the ball, recording 8 hits on their way to a 5-0 victory, of which only 3 runs were earned. Parker Scott (3-1) took his first loss of the season after a season low in innings pitched (4.0) and season high in earned runs allowed, with 2.
The Commodores bats came alive in game two on Saturday, outsourcing the Cowboys 18-4 to secure the series win. Troy LaNeve, Isaiah Thomas, and Tate Kolwyck all homered for Vanderbilt, who provided more than enough run support for Leiter (4-0). The offensive attack tallied 14 hits and added 14 walks, led by Parker Noland with 3 hits. The Commodores scored 6 runs in both the 6th and 8th inning.
Cade Cabbiness led the way for the Cowboys with a two-run home run in the 7th inning but it was not enough to keep up with Vanderbilt. Like Scott in the first game, Justin Wrobleski (1-1) recorded his shortest start of the season, going just 3 innings and allowing 4 earned runs. Leiter picked up the victory after throwing 5 shutout innings, allowing just 2 hits with 7 strikeouts.
The Cowboys offense exploded in game three for more hits than they had in games one and two combined with 12, on their way to a 10-6 win to avoid a sweep at home. They jumped on Vanderbilt starter Thomas Schultz (1-2) with 6 runs in the second inning to force his early departure. Brock Mathias, Nolan McLean, and Alix Garcia each homered in the game for the Cowboys, led by McLean with two home runs and 4 RBI. Bryce Osmond (2-0) picked up the win, although he gave up 5 runs in 6.2 innings. Thomas and Kolwyck, who both homered in game 2 for Vanderbilt, also hit home runs in game three, with Thomas adding two more to his season total.
Going into SEC play next weekend, this could become the norm for Vanderbilt, dominating the first two games of the series before battling out game three. Schultz, their third starter, currently has a 6.00 ERA and is responsible for both losses on the season. Good news for Commodore fans, Rocker and Leiter have been nearly untouchable with 0.00 and 0.45 ERA’s, respectively. This Vanderbilt team has all the tools to make a deep postseason run, but Coach Corbin will need to find a third option before the end of the year. Maybe it is Schultz, but it would not surprise me to see changes to the rotation if his numbers continue on this trend.
The Cowboys team ERA increased nearly 1.5 runs after the series against Vanderbilt, but they will not see offenses that stack up to the Commodores on a regular basis. Oklahoma State currently has a .235 team batting average, which needs to improve in order for the Cowboys to remain competitive in the Big 12. This team displays a lot of talent, especially in their rotation, but it will be up to Coach Holliday to get everyone in sync heading into conference play.