For baseball fans in Nashville, you couldn’t ask for much more of an exciting week. The biggest story is obviously the Vanderbilt Commodores quest to bring a second consecutive College World Series title back to West End. Outside of the excitement in Omaha, Neb. though, mid-state products are shining on big league rosters across the country and the Nashville Sounds return for an eight game home stand tomorrow night.
After winning the first game in the best-of-three College World Series finals 3-0, the Commodores just couldn’t catch a break last night in game two. Sometimes those games just happen. Vanderbilt’s Phillip Pfeifer tossed five great innings before Virginia was able to capitalize with a few hits, and some fortuitous bounces, to push three runs across in the sixth inning. Virginia’s sixth inning included one ball hit up the middle, destined to be a routine groundout by top MLB pick Dansby Swanson, until it struck the second base bag and later in the inning a normally routine shot to Zander Wiel at first base took a funny hop in the dirt, allowing Virginia’s inning to continue. Like I said, sometimes in baseball the bounces go your way, and others they seem to all go against you. Last night was certainly the latter for the Commodores.
Vanderbilt s also faced a surprise five inning performance on the mound from Virginia’s Adam Haseley, who normally plays center field, before shutdown reliever Josh Sborz took over for the final four innings to cap the 3-0 Virginia win.
Like last year, the Commodores will play in the most exciting college baseball game of the year, a winner-take-all third and final game with the National Championship on the line. First pitch of tonight’s game is at 7 p.m., and the game can be seen on ESPN. If you want to watch the game the big screen, a really big screen, with tons of other Commodore fans, you can also grab your lawn chairs and blankets and head over to Vanderbilt Stadium. The home of the Commodore football team, will again host a free watch party for fans. Gates at Vanderbilt Stadium will open at 6 p.m.
It isn’t just college baseball that has the attention of mid-state baseball fans; there are a lot of local products making waves in the big leagues right now too. Last night, former Lipscomb Bisons pitcher Josh Smith made his Major League debut with the Cincinnati Reds. While Smith ended up taking the loss as the Reds fell 7-6 to the Pittsburgh Pirates, he was able to record is first Major League strikeout and first Major League hit. Smith’s first hit in the big leagues, a blooper to right field, came while his father Fred Smith was being interviewed live by the local FoxSports station so everyone at home got to watch the joy on his face as he watched his son fulfill a lifelong dream.
As his beloved Commodores were battling Virginia in the College World Series, former Vandy ace David Price was shutting down the Cleveland Indians. Price tossed 6.2 innings last night with seven strikeouts in a 7-3 win and improved his record to an impressive 7-2 on the year. The dominating performance is nothing new for Price, who is a leading candidate to be on the MLB All-Star roster when it is released in the coming weeks.
Tonight a pair of Nashvillians will square off at Boston’s Fenway Park, as the Red Sox’ outfielder Mookie Betts (an Overton High School alum) will share the field with the Baltimore Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph (who played at Franklin High School and Lipscomb University). Thursday night another Nashville native, Sonny Gray, will take his 8-2 record to the mound for the Oakland A’s against the Texas Rangers. With a 1.95 ERA and over 90 strikeouts already this year, the former Smyrna and Vanderbilt star joins Price as a leading contender to make the MLB All-Star ballot.
Closer to home, the Nashville Sounds return to First Tennessee Park this weekend for an eight game home stand against Oklahoma City and Colorado. Lots of fun promotions, fireworks and giveaways are planned during the home stand. If you haven’t checked out the new home of the Sounds, this weekend will be an excellent opportunity.
Regardless of who your favorite team is, if you are a baseball fan in Nashville these days there is excitement around every corner these days it seems.