Vanderbilt junior left hander Jackson Gillis and the rest of the Commodores wrapped up their regular season in impressive fashion this past weekend, sweeping a pair of games against Kentucky last Friday and Saturday to capture its seventh SEC regular season title and first since 2013.
On Friday evening at Kentucky Proud Park, in Lexington, Kentucky No. 2 Vanderbilt scored six times in the third inning and received home runs from JJ Bleday, Ethan Paul and Stephen Scott, defeating Kentucky 12-4 to.
The regular season title is the fourth under head coach Tim Corbin (2007, 2011, 2013, 2019).
Vanderbilt closed out their regular season the next day when JJ Bleday unlocked a four-all tie in the ninth with his 25th home run and the No. 2 Commodores struck four long balls on the day, outlasting Kentucky 7-4.
With the win, Vanderbilt (45-10, 23-7 SEC) notched its first three-game sweep at Kentucky since 1988 while registering its 18th win in the last 19 matchups. The sweep was Vandy’s fifth conference sweep of the season and extended the club’s streak to 11 consecutive road wins, dating to April 9.
The Commodores have won six consecutive SEC series entering Wednesday night's SEC Tournament Hoover, Alabama. Vanderbilt enters the event as the top-seed and will open double-elimination play Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. against the winner of No. 8-seed Auburn and No. 9-seed Tennessee with results not known as of presstime.
Gillis meanwhile has been a key contributor out of the bullpen for the Commodores this season, striking out seven batters in seven innings pitched.
Most recently, Gillis pitched a scoreless inning against Middle Tennessee State back on May 14 as part of a 5-2 Vanderbilt win.
Prior to that, in another game against Middle Tennessee State back on April 9, Gillis had pitched a scoreless ninth inning while striking out one batter as part of a 15-3 Vanderbilt win.
GILLIS TO BE DRAFTED?
There’s a good chance that Jackson Gillis will be drafted by a Major League Baseball team when the MLB draft begins on June 3rd and ends on June 5th.
Just recently, Baseball America ranked Gillis has the 287th best prospect for the draft, which would put him in the ninth round range.
If Gillis gets selected and signs with that team, he would be the fifth baseball player (all pitchers) from Wilmington to enter professional baseball.
Back in the 1960s, Jeff Williamson pitched for several years in the Baltimore Orioles system between A and AA while Rick Froton pitched two years for the Red Sox Single-A level.
In 1990 Jason Bere was drafted in the 36th round and pitched 12 seasons in the big leagues and then in the mid 1990s, Mike Alonardo pitched in the Independent League.
SMITH & GRACIA
A pair of former Wilmington High stars, pitcher Danny Gracia and outfielder Graham Smith, recently wrapped up their freshman seasons with the Franklin Pierce Baseball team.
The Ravens were eliminated on the second day of the NCAA Championship East Regional by coincidentally, Wilmington, Delaware with a 12-10 loss last Friday in Garden City New York.
The Ravens, who finished their season with an overall record of 29-24, had earned their spot in the NCAA Tournament by winning the Northeast-10 Conference Tournament when they swept a pair of games from Merrimack College on May 11
It was a league record sixth Northeast-10 Conference title for the Ravens, who climbed out of the loser's bracket to win the NE-10 crown.
The Ravens clinched the league title with a 3-0 win in the second game of the day. They had started the day with an 8-5 win over the Warriors in a game started by Gracia
Gracia threw the first three innings on the mound for the Ravens. He allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits, hit a batter and struck out three.
Gracia also pitched in relief during the Ravens 12-10 loss to Wilmington on the NCAA Tournament, allowing two earned runs over 4.2 innings, while allowing four hits and striking out one batter.
Overall, Gracia started six games on the season, posting a 1-4 record, while also picking up three saves as a relief pitcher. He posted an ERA of 4.31, while striking out 42 batters over 54.1 innings.
Smith meanwhile had one of the biggest hits of the game in the Ravens 8-5 win over Merrimack. Franklin Pierce had fought back from a 4-1 deficit with five runs in the fifth inning to take a 6-4 lead, but Merrimack had closed to within 6-5 when Smith, who had entered the game as a defensive replacement, stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the top of the eighth inning.
Smith wasted little time in showing off his offensive abilities as well, lining a two run single to extend the lead to 8-5 and set the Ravens on their way to the second game of the day where they would clinch the tournament title.
The clutch hit was just the latest in what was an outstanding first season of college baseball for Smith, who batted .232 on the season, with ten RBI, eight walks, nine runs scored and five stolen bases.
Stonehill College senior Joe Connolly finished sixth in the 400-meter dash to earn All-New England honors for the fourth time in his career with a school-record time of 48.62-seconds at the 2019 New England Outdoor Track & Field Championships, hosted by Southern Connecticut State University on May 11.
Connolly edged the eight-year-old school record of 48.63-seconds previously set by Pak Lul at the 2011 Skyhawk Invitational.
Connolly also collected All-New England honors with Stonehill's 4x400-meter relay that finished eighth in 3:19.13. He was joined by junior Jeremy Breen and freshmen Jack Bowers and Anthony Magazzu.
Bowers ran the lead leg in 49.6 seconds, followed by Breen for a 49.4 second split on the second leg, before Magazzu finished the third leg in 50.7 seconds and then Connolly brought the baton home on the anchor leg in 49.2 seconds.