Cunningham in Command

Dores advance past Florida, 6-3

HOOVER, Ala. – Vanderbilt defeated Florida, 6-3, Tuesday evening in the opening round of the 2024 SEC Baseball Tournament and will begin double elimination action Wednesday against top-seeded Tennessee.

Vandy starting pitcher Bryce Cunningham turned in six scoreless innings, holding the Gators to five hits while recording six strikeouts. Cunningham didn’t issue a walk.

The Dores scored the first six runs of the contest and were led by Matthew Polk and Braden Holcomb with two RBI each.

Alan Espinal worked a leadoff walk in the bottom of the second. Colin Barczi followed with a double to right-center to put runners on second and third. Polk brought home the game’s first run with a groundout that allowed Espinal to come in from third. Barczi then tagged and scored from third on a sac fly off the bat of Holcomb as Vandy went in front 2-0.

Vandy struck again in the bottom of the fourth. Espinal singled with one out and advanced to second on a wild pitch. With two down, Polk lined a single to right field and Espinal beat the throw home to score for the second time. Polk stole second and came around to score on a single by Holcomb to make it 4-0, Vanderbilt.

Calvin Hewett made it a five-run lead with a solo home run to leadoff the bottom of the fifth, his second homer in the last three games.

Vandy added another run in the bottom of the seventh. Jonathan Vastine reached on an error and stole second base. With two outs, RJ Austin singled through the left side and Vastine scored safely from second to give the Dores a 6-0 lead.

Florida broke up the shutout in the top of the eighth on a groundout to cut Vandy’s lead back down to five.

The Gators mounted a comeback in the ninth with a two-run homer to cut the Vandy lead to three, but Brennan Seiber finished off the Gators to earn his fifth save on the season. Seiber tossed the final three frames.

With the win, Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin now has the most SEC Tournament wins at a single institution, passing Mississippi State’s Ron Polk with win No. 45 Tuesday night. Corbin trails Polk by one win for most SEC Tournament wins overall with Polk wining 46 tournament contests at Georgia and Mississippi State combined.

Vanderbilt advances to the double elimination rounds of the tournament and will face top-seeded Tennessee at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday on SEC Network.