Austin Martin is best known as Vanderbilt’s .400 hitter. He’s starting to get a reputation for his power.
Martin homered on Reid Detmers’ first pitch of the game and he went deep again in the seventh to break a tie in the Commodores’ 3-1 victory over Louisville on Sunday in the College World Series.
The sophomore homered twice for the second straight game. Before he hit two against Duke on June 9, he had a total of seven in 115 career games.
“I don’t try to think about it too much,” Martin said. “I try to separate every at-bat into a different A-B. At the end of the day, you just don’t try to do too much when you’re at the plate. The results will happen.”
Those results were the difference. He became the first player since Florida’s Harrison Bader in 2015 to lead off a CWS game with a homer when he drove Detmers’ initial offering out to left. Martin’s two-run homer off Bryan Hoeing (3-4) in the seventh barely cleared the wall in left center, but it was long enough to break a 1-all tie.
No. 2 national seed Vanderbilt (55-11) set a program record for wins and improved to 4-0 in its CWS openers.
“I think it’s the toughest one all teams have to play. To start off in this environment, we’ve done it four times, but it’s not easy,” Vandy coach Tim Corbin said. “I told them when they got through that game, that might be the most difficult game they play, regardless of what happens after this. But it’s real. There’s an adrenaline rush.”
Martin, who raised his batting average to .411 after going 4 for 7 his last two games, admitted to feeling jittery when he went to the plate in the first. Detmers gave him a perfect pitch to drive.
“Austin in that moment right there, his ability just to center on the baseball, not understanding the rhythm of the pitch and the speed, that’s a clutch moment,” Corbin said. “Those are different people that do those things. That’s not common.”
Vandy starter Drake Fellows (13-1), a sixth-round draft pick of the San Diego Padres this month and the national wins leader, bounced back from a rough outing in an 18-5 loss to Duke in the super regional opener June 7.
No. 7 Louisville (49-17) had base runners in six of Fellows’ seven innings but found a semblance of rhythm only in the fifth. No. 8 batter Justin Lavey started things with a double and scored on Henry Davis’ base hit to tie it. Lucas Dunn and Logan Wyatt followed with singles to load the bases with one out, but Fellows got the Cards’ 3- and 4-hole batters to fly out and ground out to snuff the threat.
“That was definitely the turning point in the game where we missed out on an opportunity,” Davis said, “but I still felt like we could win. I think everybody still felt like we could win after that point. Everybody seemed like they were seeing the ball, getting good swings, putting good at-bats together.”
Fellows allowed six singles and a double, walked one and struck out six before the bullpen took over. All-SEC closer Tyler Brown worked the ninth for his 15th save.
Detmers labored through the first three innings and he left with two outs in the sixth. Vanderbilt managed only one hit off the sophomore left-hander after Martin’s homer and JJ Bleday’s single in the first, but the ACC pitcher of the year walked a career-high six during his 102-pitch afternoon.
“I mean, you’ve just got to work through it,” Detmers said. “I kind of struggled finding the zone early on, and you’ve just got to go out there and compete and give it your best.”
Vanderbilt caught a break in the sixth when Louisville’s Lavey popped up in the grass behind first base. Running with two outs, Danny Oriente came around from second. Infante, the Commodores’ first baseman, couldn’t make the catch, but the ball had floated just foul, and the call was upheld on a video review.
Lavey ended up striking out, and the Cardinals had only three other batters reach base the rest of the way. They were just 3 for 16 with runners on base.
ALL OR NOTHING
Vanderbilt has allowed a total of 11 runs in six wins in the NCAA Tournament. The Commodores gave up 18 in their one loss, the Duke debacle.
Louisville is just 2-9 in five CWS appearances, fifth worst among teams that have been to Omaha at least three times, and the Cardinals have scored just 22 runs in their last nine games here.
Vanderbilt will play a Bracket 2 winners’ game Tuesday night against Mississippi State, a 5-4 winner over Auburn.
Louisville plays an elimination game Tuesday against Auburn.