Christ Presbyterian Academy alum and Vanderbilt catcher Philip Clarke was part of the Vanderbilt 2019 College World Series victory, as the team got a 2-1 series win against Michigan Wednesday night.
Below is a game story from the night from sister publication the Nashville Post, including information on Clarke’s performance.
By Ben Weinrib
In June 2016, Vanderbilt baseball suffered tragedy when star freshman Donny Everett drowned in a fishing accident the day before the start of the NCAA Tournament. Left heartbroken, the team was quickly eliminated in two games at home.
Three years later, with Everett’s parents on hand, the Commodores found some redemption by winning the 2019 College World Series in decisive fashion. Many of Everett’s classmates went pro last year but a significant portion of the senior class returned and played a key role in Wednesday’s national championship-clinching 8-2 win over Michigan.
“You don’t always get what you want in life, and to watch this situation come full circle for them is particularly gratifying,” head coach Tim Corbin said. “They experienced devastation at the lowest level as an 18-year-old watching a friend, lose a friend, and suffer through that heartbreak for a long period of time. They played with heavy hearts for a long period of time, and the program didn’t feel right for a time. Rightly so.”
Seniors Ethan Paul and Stephen Scott were two of Wednesday night’s biggest hitters in clutch situations, beginning in the third inning. With the game tied at one, Paul singled to ignite a two-out rally that eventually loaded the bases. After Pat DeMarco walked to bring in the go-ahead run, Scott broke the game open with a two-run single up the middle.
The very next inning, Paul’s sacrifice fly to left field effectively put the game out of reach, at 6-1, and his selfless excitement was palpable.
“At the end of the day, our number one reason to come back to school wasn’t to have this outlandish season or anything like that,” Paul said. “I think that we all wanted to just be a part of something special. It’s great to win a national championship, it’s great to do all those things, but the program means so much more to us than just winning. I think there’s such a bond with each other, and we do all those things off the field and we celebrate each other so well. I’m happy that we were able to have this moment, and it’s going to be a memory forever.”
Along with right-hander Patrick Raby and first baseman Julian Infante, the seniors’ leadership proved steadying for the team’s talented underclassmen, who did plenty of their own heavy lifting.
Sophomores Mason Hickman and Jack Eder combined to strike out 14 batters while giving up just six hits on Wednesday, and freshman Kumar Rocker was named Most Outstanding Player for his pair of outstanding starts in Omaha. DeMarco started off strong Wednesday with a game-tying homer in the second while Philip Clarke collected a game-high three hits.
“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet for any of us yet, this whole experience,” DeMarco said. “I was just trying to stay in the moment, and hopefully it’ll sink in in a couple years.”
Vanderbilt had quite the storybook season to end what would have been Everett’s senior season. The Commodores dominated wire to wire with SEC regular-season and tournament titles, setting the league record for wins in the process and keeping Everett’s parents as part of the Commodores family along the way.
“I hate to say there’s any positive thing from losing a young person,” Corbin said. “But certainly, there’s experiences that you gain from that that allow you to grow individually and as a group, and we did that.”
Photo from Vanderbilt Athletics.