GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Vanderbilt baseball team could not complete the comeback on Sunday afternoon, as 14th-ranked Florida claimed a 5-3 win to take the series at Florida Ballpark. With the loss, the Commodores move to 31-9 on the season, including a 14-7 mark in Southeastern Conference play.
Florida carried a 5-1 lead into the fifth, before Vanderbilt began to chip away in the middle innings. The Commodores threatened across the final innings, including bringing the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but could not complete the comeback.
Vanderbilt turned to Chris McElvain on the mound on Sunday, as the sophomore made his first career start. The right-hander worked 3.0 innings, allowing five earned runs on five hits, while walking four and striking out four batters.
Freshman Patrick Reilly provided a strong outing out of the bullpen to keep things within distance. The right-hander worked 3.0 scoreless frames, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out five.
Junior Luke Murphy followed up Reilly out of the pen, working 2.0 hitless frames, while picking up three batters. It was McElvain who would take the loss, marking his first of the campaign, moving to 3-1 on the season.
Florida struck first in the series finale, plating two runs in the bottom of the first to grab an early lead. The Gators used a leadoff single followed by a two-out double to bring across their first run of the day. One batter later, an RBI single to left center scored another run in the frame to put Florida ahead, 2-0, after one inning of action.
Vanderbilt cut the deficit in half with one run in the top of the second. Isaiah Thomas connected on his second homer of the weekend with a solo shot to left field to make it a 2-1 contest.
Florida scored two more in the third to extend its lead. The Gators used three walks to load the bases before an RBI single up the middle plated a pair to move the score to 4-1, after three frames of play.
The Gators added one in the fourth to widen the gap. A leadoff walk followed by a double to left center placed runners on second and third to begin the inning. Two batters later, a fielder’s choice brought one across to make it a 5-1 contest after four full.
The Commodores added a run of their own in the next half, as the top of the fifth began with back-to-back singles from Parker Noland and Tate Kolwyck. After a sacrifice bunt advanced both runners 90 feet, Enrique Bradfield Jr. brought one run across on an RBI groundout to cut the Gator lead to 5-2.
Vanderbilt continued to chip away at the deficit, adding one more in the sixth. Dominic Keegan drew a leadoff walk before Thomas and Jack Bulger lined back-to-back singles to load the bases with one down. One batter later, Noland brought one across to trim the Florida lead to 5-3.
The Commodores threatened across the final three frames, including bringing the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but a strikeout would go as the final out as the Gators held on for the win.
Vanderbilt returns to action on Tuesday evening, concluding its four-game road-stretch. The Commodores will travel to Louisville to matchup with the Cardinals in a midweek contest. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT, with action airing live on ESPNU.