GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Vanderbilt baseball team held on for an 11-7 win over 14th-ranked Florida on Friday evening at Florida Ballpark. With the win, the Commodores improve to 32-7 on the season, including a 14-5 mark in Southeastern Conference play.
Offense highlighted the series opener, as the two teams combined for 18 runs in the contest, while tying in hits with 13 apiece. Every Vanderbilt starter registered at least one hit in the contest, while eight of nine scored at least one run.
After a 30-minute rain downpour delayed the start time, Vanderbilt jumped out to a 7-0 lead across the first three innings before Florida began to cut into the advantage.
The two teams traded blows across the middle innings, resulting in an 11-4 contest after seven innings of play. The Gators scored three runs in the eighth, but would get no closer as the Commodores held on for the win.
Commodore starter Kumar Rocker (10-1) picked up his nation-leading 10th win of the season. The right-hander worked 5.0 innings, allowing two earned runs on four hits while walking four batters and racking up eight punchouts.
Vandy used a combination of five arms in the matchup, as the foursome of Thomas Schultz, Luke Murphy, Nelson Berkwich and Nick Maldonado each saw action out of the bullpen.
Vanderbilt struck first in Friday’s matchup, plating two runs in the top of the first to grab an early lead. The inning began with back-to-back walks to Enrique Bradfield Jr. and Carter Young to place runners on first and second.
After both advanced 90 feet on a double steal, CJ Rodriguez sent an infield single up the middle that allowed both runners to score and put Vanderbilt in front, 2-0.
The Commodores added four more in the second to extend their early advantage. Tate Kolwyck led off the frame with a double to right center, while Jayson Gonzalez followed with a single through the right side to place runners on the corners.
Bradfield brought across the first run of the inning on a bunt single down the first base line. After Dominic Keegan was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Jack Bulger lined a double down the right field line to plate a pair. Rodriguez scored the fourth and final run of the inning with a RBI groundout to second to extend Vanderbilt’s lead to 6-0.
The two teams traded runs across the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Vanderbilt added one in the fifth, as Bradfield began the frame with a single to right before advancing to second on a stolen base. One batter later, Keegan lined an RBI double to right center to score one and move Vandy’s lead to 7-0.
Florida broke into the scoring column in the home half of the inning, as the Gators used a leadoff solo home run to make it a 7-1 contest after four full.
The Commodore fifth began with a leadoff single from Parker Noland. Isaiah Thomas used the next at-bat to notch his seventh home run of the season with a two-run shot to center field, pushing Vanderbilt’s lead to 9-1.
The Gators responded with another run in the home half, using a leadoff single and a pair of wild pitches to place a runner on third with nobody out. An RBI groundout brought across one Florida run to cut the Commodore lead to 9-2 after five innings of action.
Vanderbilt plated one in the sixth, as Young began the inning with a triple before coming across to score on an RBI single from Bulger.
Florida answered with two runs in the bottom half, as a RBI double scored a pair to trim the Commodore advantage to 10-4 following six innings of play.
Vanderbilt continued to add to its lead with another one-run frame in the seventh to move its lead to 11-4 heading into the stretch.
Florida would score three in the eighth to set the score at 11-7, the eventual final.
The two teams will return to the diamond tomorrow evening for the second matchup of the series. First pitch is set for 5:30 p.m. CT, with action airing live on SEC Network+.