Dores let late lead, series slip away

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – No. 9 Vanderbilt let a late lead slip away Saturday afternoon at Hawkins Field in a 9-7 loss to No. 10 Florida in front of a third straight sellout crowd.

The Commodores (36-16, 18-9) rallied back from an early three-run deficit to take the lead in the fifth inning just to see the Gators (38-14, 17-10) scratch out a run in the top of the seventh inning to pull even and set up a dramatic finish. Vandy responded with a three-run rally to quickly reclaim the lead. Bryan Reynolds worked a bases loaded walk to force in the go-ahead run in front of Will Toffey’s bases loaded double that found it’s way out of play down the right field line to cost the Commodores a run and only score two runs. Florida found its way out of the jam without further damage but the Dores took a commanding three-run lead to the eighth inning.

Reliever Ben Bowden struck out the first batter of the frame but quickly found trouble thanks to a single from Peter Alonso and RBI-triple by J.J. Schwarz. Bowden picked up a fly out to center and had nine-hole hitter Ryan Larson down in the count 1-2 before Larson poked a single through the left side to bring the Gators right back in the game down a run.

Florida tied the game in the ninth, again with two outs. Schwarz singled through the right side of the VU infield to chase Buddy Reed home from second to make it 7-7.

After the Commodores failed to score in the ninth, Florida took advantage in the 10th. Dalton Guthrie ripped a one-out double into the left field corner off Jordan Sheffield to start the rally. Richie Martin followed with a single to left but freshman Jeren Kendall’s throw back into the infield sailed high into the Florida dugout allowing Guthrie to score. Josh Tobias added a sacrifice fly to give Florida an insurance run and 9-7 lead.

Nolan Rogers’ pinch hit single to open the bottom of the 10th inning was quickly erased on Ro Coleman’s double play and the game ended one batter later on Rhett Wiseman’s fly out to left field.

Sheffield took the loss for the Commodores allowing three runs, one earned, on four hits over 2.1 innings. Starter Walker Buehler gave up four runs on six hits over 6.1 innings in a no decision.

The loss over shadowed a two home run day for Dansby Swanson, as the junior belted a two-run shot in the first and followed up with a solo homer in the fifth to drive in three runs and score three runs in the loss. Wiseman added his team-best 12th homer on a solo bomb in the third as part of his three-hit game.

Taylor Lewis picked up the win in relief for Florida with 2.2 scoreless innings. Reed paced Florida with three hits, including a three-run homer in the first.

The Commodores will enter the final weekend of the Southeastern Conference play with a one-game lead over the Gators in the SEC East division.

Vanderbilt returns to action with the team’s final midweek game of the season with a trip to No. 2 Louisville on Tuesday night for the Battle of the Barrel. First pitch is set for 5 p.m. CT.