Coming off their first College World Series appearance, the Vanderbilt Commodores opened up the 2012 season with a matchup worthy of Omaha. The No. 10 Commodores (0-2) traveled to Palo Alto to take on the Stanford Cardinals (2-0), ranked No. 2 in the Baseball America preseason rankings.
The tough matchup proved to be a learning experience for the youthful Commodores, especially in the field, where they made 11 errors in the series. Vanderbilt could not overcome its errors and Stanford's timely two-out hitting, dropping the series with an 8-3 loss on Friday night, a 9-5 loss on Saturday night and an 18-5 loss on Sunday afternoon.
In the Friday night opener, the Commodores struggled to get on the board against Stanford starter Mark Appel, who is projected to be the No. 1 pick in this year's MLB Draft. Appel held the Commodores to one run on two hits in seven innings of work, but coach Tim Corbin was optimistic about the team's offensive performance.
"We didn't have much to show for it in the first four innings, but I thought offensively we struck the ball well. We had one tough inning in the third, where the game kind of got away from us a little bit," Corbin said. "The difference was they won more frames than we did."
Freshman Chris Harvey had the first hit of the game for Vanderbilt, and he was the only Commodore with two hits on the night. Freshmen Brian Miller and Jared Miller each made their first collegiate appearances in relief of Kevin Ziomek, who suffered his first collegiate loss.
Saturday night was not much better for the Commodores, as they were held to one run in the first five innings and committed four errors, which led to four unearned runs. The margin of error is small when playing the No. 2 team in the country, and the Cardinal capitalized by opening up a 9-1 lead.
Connor Harrell provided a bright spot for the Vanderbilt offense, crushing two-run home runs in the sixth and eighth innings to close the gap to 9-5, but the early deficit was too much to overcome. The Commodores got productive offensive efforts from Anthony Gomez, who had three hits, and Mike Yastrzemski, who scored twice and went 2-for-3.
On Sunday afternoon, the Commodores took a promising 4-0 lead in the second inning, but Stanford responded with 18 unanswered runs, including eight in the bottom of the second. Vanderbilt was not able to improve its early series defensive woes with five errors on the afternoon.
The Commodores will look to bounce back in their home opener against Oakland University on Wednesday at 4 p.m CT.