Devin Futrell has had mixed results on the mound for Vanderbilt (39-22) against Power 5 teams this season, particularly the SEC.
But if there’s one thing facing potent lineups like Louisville, Tennessee, Arkansas, and LSU has done for the freshman righty, its build his confidence.
Futrell threw six shutout innings Sunday night against Oregon State (46-16), allowing just five hits and striking out four on 93 pitches in Vanderbilt’s 8-1 win, sending the Commodores to the Region final Monday at 3 p.m. against Oregon State.
It was Futrell’s first postseason start.
"Experience in the SEC is a good training ground for moving forward," Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said. “… [Futrell has] done so well during the course of the year pitching in the midweeks for us, which was hugely important. Getting eight wins, I mean, it has a lot to do with your ability to get into a regional. He gains confidence each time he gets out there."
Added Futrell: "All my pitches were working. I was locating the fastball and the slider most frequently. But just the ability to spot up any pitch I could really helped me in the long run today."
Futrell’s strong outing was the latest of four straight games the ‘Dores got major contributions from their starting rotation.
It started with freshman Carter Holton in the Regional opener against San Diego. Although in a losing effort, Holton scattered five hits and two earned runs over six innings with five strikeouts.
Junior Chris McElvain followed that up with an 11-strikeout performance the following day in a 21-1 win over New Mexico. The Summit High alum gave up just one run and six hits over 7 innings.
Junior Nick Maldonado then delivered in Vandy’s rematch with San Diego in Game 1 on Sunday going 7.2 innings strong, allowing 4 runs and 4 hits with 5 strikeouts to get VU into the late game and keep the team’s hopes of a Super Regional alive.
Perhaps more importantly, Vanderbilt has a fully rested bullpen plus a few starting options for Monday’s winner-take-all rematch with the Beavers.
While no starting pitcher has been named, freshman Bryce Cunningham (6 regular season starts) or sophomore Patrick Reilly (3 regular season starts) are the safe bets.
Sophomore Christian Little, who threw 33 pitches in 3 shutout innings on Friday, and fellow sophomore Nelson Berkwich, who threw 23 pitches over 1.1 innings in Game 1 on Sunday, could be available in relief if absolutely needed.
Grayson Moore, Donye Evans, and Ryan Ginther haven’t pitched during the postseason yet and should all be available in relief as well.
Thomas Schultz, who threw 48 pitches over 3 shutout innings on Sunday, and Brett Hansen, who had 30 pitches in 2 scoreless innings on Saturday, are the only relievers likely unavailable for Monday’s game.
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