LOUISVILLE, Ky. – No. 3 Vanderbilt used a clutch hit from Harrison Ray and steady pitching, running its win streak to 12 consecutive games while defeating No. 6 Louisville 6-2 to capture the Battle of the Barrel on Tuesday night at Jim Patterson Stadium.
Ray (1-for-4) socked a bases-loaded, two-run double with one away in the eighth to break a two-all tie. Ethan Paul doubled and Philip Clarke singled to open the frame. Ray’s one-out knock followed a nine-pitch walk from Stephen Scott who fell behind 0-2 in the count.
Vanderbilt (39-9) drew consecutive bases loaded walks in the ninth to push its advantage to four. Ray registered a season-high three RBIs with the final coming on a free pass in the ninth. Scott also walked in the frame and has 12 in his last 14 contests.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak to the Cardinals and marked the Commodores’ 10th consecutive victory in the midweek. It was also their eighth straight on the road, the longest streak since winning as many from April 20-May 12, 2013.
Vanderbilt put two across in the third as Austin Martin worked a five-pitch walk and took third on a JJ Bleday single through the right side. Paul started the scoring, grounding out to short and Clarke shot a first-pitch RBI-single into center.
Louisville (39-10) cashed in with two outs, taking advantage of a Zeke Pinkham double before Lucas Dunn beat an infield grounder out to cut its deficit to 2-1. With two away in the sixth, Danny Oriente lifted a double into left center, scoring Logan Wyatt (double) to even the game at two-all.
Pat DeMarco (2-for-3) notched his 100th career hit, coming in the second, and matched a career-high two walks and has registered a hit in 17 of his last 20 games. Martin (2-for-4) collected his 150th career hit and registered his 11th multi-hit performance in the last 15 games. Clarke (2-for-4) has posted a hit in 14 of the last 15 games and multiple hits in 10 of the last 13 outings.
Vanderbilt starter Mason Hickman was effective in 5.2 innings, scattering six hits while allowing two runs and striking out five without permitting a walk. The right-hander, whose ERA sits at 2.15, has allowed just 10 earned runs in his last 12 outings (55.2 innings).
Reliever AJ Franklin (1-0) stranded runners in scoring position in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. The southpaw matched a career-high three strikeouts. The Cardinals’ Michael Kirian (2-1) was saddled with the loss, allowing two runs on two hits in 0.2 innings.
Vanderbilt looks for its 10th straight SEC win when the Commodores return to league play on Friday, hosting Missouri at 6:30 p.m. The Dores enter their final home regular-season weekend with a one-game lead in the conference standings and two-game advantage in the SEC East.