by Barca Blog - You can understand if Sonny Gray was anxious prior to Vanderbilt’s contest with Indiana Saturday. The weight of the Commodores’ season was riding on the freshman hurler’s right arm.
“(Sonny’s) running around before the game with a bat in his hand,” Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin noticed. “I had to get him out of the sun. He had some nervous energy working.”
Gray took that energy and unleashed his most dominant performance of his young career, not allowing an extra base hit in a career-high eight innings of shutout work to lead the Commodores to a 10-0 rout of Indiana.
Gray left IU’s potent offense playing the guessing game as he mowed down 10 Hoosier hitters with a good mixture of fastballs, breaking balls and offspeed pitches to keep their hitting attack off balance. He was in total control, too, only walking one of 30 batters faced.
“He was pretty dominant today,” Indiana head coach Tracy Smith said. “When you face that type of pitching performance, your margin of error is very small. When he starts throwing the breaking ball consistently with his velocity it makes it very, very tough.”
Gray’s only challenge came in the fifth with Vanderbilt holding a 3-0 lead. After IU loaded the bases with no outs, the Smyrna, Tenn., native buckled down to freeze Tyler Rogers and Jake Dunning on back-to-back strikeouts. He then forced Brian Lambert into a groundout to shortstop to end the inning and thwart any momentum IU had built up.
“We’ve gotten out of situations like that before,” Gray said, “and I told myself that I was going to cut-it loose and just see what happens.”
What happened was anything but your typical freshman performance, especially when you consider it took place on the biggest stage. But as Corbin pointed out about Gray, “there’s no freshman in him.”
(Photo by Jimmy Jones)