Comeback Falls Short

Jones paces Vanderbilt offense with four-hit day

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt baseball fell just short in its comeback effort against seventh-ranked Oklahoma State, suffering a 4-3 loss on Saturday afternoon at Hawkins Field.

Facing a 4-2 deficit entering the final half inning, Vanderbilt used a leadoff walk from Enrique Bradfield Jr. to begin the threat. One out later, Spencer Jones reached on a hit-by-pitch to put the tying run aboard.

After both runners advanced into scoring position on a double-steal, a wild pitch allowed Bradfield to score from third to make it a 4-3 contest. The Commodores failed to scratch across the tying run, as Jones was stranded at third to end the game.

Vanderbilt battled from behind most of the afternoon, as Oklahoma State built an early lead with four unanswered runs across the first four frames. The Commodores put up single tallies in the fourth and seventh innings, before adding another run in the ninth.

Junior right-hander Nick Maldonado earned the nod for the Commodores, making the first start of his career. Maldonado (0-1) suffered the loss and allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits, while striking out three across 4.0 innings.

Vanderbilt used a trio of arms out of the bullpen, with sophomore lefty Nelson Berkwich being the first. Berkwich worked 1.0 clean frame before turning it over to fellow sophomore Grayson Moore. Moore covered a career-high 3.0 hitless innings, while striking out a personal-best five batters in the outing.  Graduate Jack Anderson worked the final frame, striking out the side in the ninth while yielding one walk.

Oklahoma State struck first in Saturday’s matchup, plating a pair of runs in the very first frame. The inning began with a fielding error by the Vandy third baseman, before a single and a walk loaded the bases. One batter later, a sacrifice fly to deep center field resulted in the game’s first run, and placed runners on the corners. The Cowboys scored their second run of the inning on a double-steal attempt to take a 2-0 lead after one half of play.

Oklahoma State returned to the dish to add one more in the second. The Cowboys used a leadoff double to left field followed by a single to right field to bring a run across and make it a 3-0 contest in the second.

The two teams traded runs in the fourth, as Oklahoma State added to its lead with a solo tally in the top half. The frame began with a leadoff double to place a runner in scoring position. One out later, a double down the right field line scored one for the Cowboys to push their advantage to 4-0.

Vanderbilt broke into the scoring column with a run of its own in the bottom half. Tate Kolwyck and Javier Vaz drew back-to-back walks to lead off the inning before a fielder’s choice placed runners on the corners with one down. One batter later, Bradfield sent a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Kolwyck to set the score at 4-1.

The Commodores continued to chip away at the deficit, adding another run in the seventh. With one down in the frame, Jones lined a double off the left field wall to give the Dores a runner in scoring position. After advancing to third on a groundout in the next at-bat, Jones came across to score on an infield single from Parker Noland to make it a 4-2 game.

Vanderbilt rallied in the ninth with one run, but was unable to cross the tying run, resulting in the 4-3 final.

Jones led the Commodore offense, finishing a perfect 4-4 with two doubles and one run scored. The junior outfielder reached base in all five of his plate appearances.

The two teams return to the diamond tomorrow afternoon for the series finale. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. at Hawkins Field, with action airing live on SEC Network+.