USA TODAY Sports Weekly

What we learned from Vanderbilt baseball’s series loss at Alabama

- Aria Gerson Holton struggles, others shine

Vanderbilt baseball dropped its second series of the season after an anemic offensive performanc­e at Alabama.

The Commodores (34-13, 17-7 SEC) lost 11-2 on May 4, won 4-1 May 5 and dropped the rubber match 2-1 on May 6 to the Crimson Tide (32-16, 11-13), which fired coach Brad Bohannon last week amid an investigat­ion into gambling.

Vanderbilt’s offense couldn’t support strong pitching performanc­es.

Hunter Owen and Devin Futrell both pitched seven innings and allowed one run in their starts, but Futrell received a no-decision as he exited with the score tied 1-1.

With South Carolina losing a series to Kentucky, Vanderbilt still leads the SEC East after Florida lost of two of three games in a series against Texas A&M. The Commodores face the Gators (37-12, 15-9) this weekend in Gainesvill­e.

Vanderbilt is undefeated in home series this season but has now dropped two of its four road series.

Here’s what we learned from the series:

A Freshman All-American last season, Carter Holton lived up to his billing at the beginning of the season but has struggled since returning from a missed start due to soreness in mid-April.

Holton has been ineffective in three of his last four starts, including May 4 when he gave up five runs (four earned) in 12⁄3 innings. While Holton had good control prior to missing the start, since then he has walked 12 batters in 12 innings and has only gone past four innings once.

Despite Holton’s struggles, his two rotation-mates put up strong performanc­es. Owen struck out nine and walked one in seven innings May 5 and Futrell struck out three and walked one in seven innings May 6. Ryan Ginther and Nick Maldonado each pitched well in relief May 5 and Bryce Cunningham returned May 6 after missing a week, retiring both batters he faced.

Patrick Reilly was a mixed bag May 4. He struck out seven in 51⁄3 innings but also walked four and allowed five runs (four earned) out of the bullpen. JD Thompson followed him and allowed one run in one inning.

Vanderbilt simply could not get going on offense all weekend, scoring just seven runs in the series.

The Commodores put up five hits May 4, eight hits May 5 and six hits on May 6. The final game was the nadir as the only batter to even reach third base for Vanderbilt did so in the ninth inning with two outs.

Eleven of the 14 runs Alabama scored were via the home run as the Crimson Tide hit six. Vanderbilt, meanwhile, received just two home runs, one from RJ Schreck on May 4 and one from Parker Noland on May 5.

The May 6 game was tied 1-1 for the majority of the contest, but Mac Guscette broke the tie with a home run off Thomas Schultz in the eighth. Vanderbilt got its first two runners on in the ninth and then loaded the bases with two outs but couldn’t break through with a hit.

Just four of the Commodores hits went for extra bases. Davis Diaz, who had been in a slump, was the most productive hitter in the series. He was 5for-11 and drove in four of Vanderbilt’s seven runs.

 ?? GARY COSBY JR./THE TUSCALOOSA NEWS ?? Vanderbilt pitcher Hunter Owen delivers the ball in the second game of the series against Alabama on May 5 at SewellThom­as Stadium.
GARY COSBY JR./THE TUSCALOOSA NEWS Vanderbilt pitcher Hunter Owen delivers the ball in the second game of the series against Alabama on May 5 at SewellThom­as Stadium.

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