Starting pitcher Kaven Brown picks up his first win of the season
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Eastern Kentucky’s baseball team beat No. 11 Vanderbilt, 6-5, on Wednesday at Hawkins Field in Nashville.
It’s the Colonels second win this season against a top-15 ranked team, having beaten No. 15 Virginia, 7-6, on March 23. It was EKU’s fourth win against a top-30 ranked team in the last three seasons.
Eastern Kentucky (7-11) wasted little time jumping out in front of the ranked Commodores. With two on and no outs in the first, Cornell Nixon scored on a throwing error. Ryland Kerr then came home on a ground ball by Alex Holderbach to make it 2-0.
Holderbach’s two-run single up the middle in the third doubled the EKU lead to 4-0.
Eastern starter Kaven Brown (1-1) made it look easy through more than five innings. The junior right-hander retired eight straight, five via the strike out, during a stretch from the third inning to the end of the fifth. He gave up a lead-off hit in the sixth and then recorded the first out of the inning before giving way to Jack Piekos.
Brown’s line was five and one-third innings pitched, three hits, two walks, eight strike outs and no runs.
Holderbach added an RBI single in the top of the seventh to make it a 5-0 game. He also had a sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth to give Eastern another 5-run lead, 6-1. The junior catcher finished 2-for-4 and drove in five of Eastern’s six runs.
“We’re playing amazing baseball,” Eastern Kentucky Head Coach Edwin Thompson said. “Vanderbilt is a great team and they have a great program. We got a great starting performance from Kaven Brown and Alex Holderbach with five RBIs was special. To win on the road against this type of team and this type of program says a lot about who we are and what type of team we can be.”
The Commodores (12-5) loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the seventh, but Andrew McWhorter got a double play to end the inning. Julian Infante’s infield single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth for Vandy broke up the shutout bid.
Vanderbilt made it interesting in the bottom of the ninth, scoring four runs to get within one. With the tying run on first, Aaron Ochsenbein got Infante to fly out to center field to end the game. Ochsenbein picked up his second save in as many days.
Today’s game was Eastern Kentucky’s sixth contest of the season against a top-15 ranked opponent. EKU has also faced No. 5 Kentucky, No. 13 Louisville and played three games at No. 15 Virginia.
JJ Bleday led Vanderbilt, finishing 3-for-5 with an RBI. The Commodores used a different pitcher in each inning.
Vanderbilt was 9-1 at home this season before today’s game.
The Colonels’ 11-game road stretch continues with a three-game series this weekend at Mercer. Friday’s series opener is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.