NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Top-ranked Vanderbilt overcame the elements and 14 stranded runners, hanging on to defeat Evansville, 5-4, from a rain-soaked Hawkins Field in the home opener on Wednesday night.
The Commodores (3-1) received a major boost from nine-hole hitter Jayson Gonzalez (1-for-2) who swatted his sixth career home run and drew a bases-loaded walk. The sophomore was one of eight players to record a hit, propelling Vandy to its fourth straight victory against the Purple Aces (1-3).
Vanderbilt rallied from an early two-run deficit to take the lead on a Ty Duvall RBI-single and Gonzalez free pass in the fourth. JJ Bleday and Stephen Scott connected on consecutive doubles to make it a 4-2 advantage an inning later before Evansville evened things up on two walks and a hit in the sixth.
Vandy went ahead for good in the home half as Austin Martin recorded his second triple in four games and came home to score two batters later as a wild pitch sailed to the backstop.
Five Vanderbilt underclassmen pitchers combined to strike out 16 Evansville batters. Right-hander Chance Huff limited the Purple Aces to four hits and two runs while fanning five in four innings before handing the ball to fellow freshman Ethan Smith who struck out four in 1.1 innings.
Southpaw Hugh Fisher (1-0) secured the win, holding Evansville off the scoreboard while striking out four in 2.1 innings. Tyler Brown stranded two runners with a punch out in the eighth and Jake Eder locked up his first collegiate save, striking out two in the ninth.
The Commodores continue their 15-game homestand this weekend, welcoming Pepperdine to Hawkins Field. Friday’s first pitch is slated for 4:30 p.m. while Saturday gets underway at 2 p.m. and Sunday’s finale will take place at 1 p.m.
All three matchups will be streamed live on the SEC Network Plus with Andrew Harris and Kevin Ingram on the call. SEC Network subscribers can tune in through WatchESPN and the ESPN app. Fans can also listen to the game on the VUCommodores app and locally on WNSR 560 AM/95.9 FM.