Dores rally big, late to take opener at Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Vanderbilt put together consecutive five-run innings late to win the series opener at Kentucky 13-3 Friday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

The Commodores (34-13, 16-6) took an early lead but entered the seventh inning tied in a 3-3 game. The Dores quickly loaded the bases with no outs but the inning came down to a 3-2 pitch to Ro Coleman with two outs. Coleman came through with a clutch three-run double to the left-center field gap to put Vandy on top for good. Rhett Wiseman capped the two-out, five-run outburst with his second home run of the night to center field to put VU in control 8-3. The Commodores piled on in the eighth inning sending 10 men to the plate. Six consecutive Dores reached base to open the frame with Karl Ellison’s single to left the only hit that scored a run in the inning as Jeren Kendall drew a bases loaded walk and Tyler Campbell was hit by a pitch to force in a run.

Vandy jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a Wiseman solo homer in the first inning that snapped Kentucky starter Zack Brown’s 15.2 scoreless inning streak. Will Toffey came around to score in the second after a leadoff double and his solo homer in the fourth inning tied the game after Kentucky (25-19, 10-11) took a 3-2 lead in the third. Toffey’s career night included a career-high four hits and four runs as the freshman finished a triple shy of the cycle, reaching base five times. Wiseman and Coleman each knocked in a career-high four runs apiece in the win to lead a list of six different Commodores to drive in at least one run.

Carson Fulmer earned his team-best ninth win of the season working 6.2 innings. The right-hander gave up three runs on eight hits with six strikeouts. Fulmer has struck out at least six in all 12 starts this season. Freshman Kyle Wright picked up Fulmer in the seventh after the junior allowed Kentucky to load the bases with two outs. Wright entered and needed just six pitches to strike out JaVon Shelby to strand the bases loaded and keep Vandy’s five-run lead intact.

Brown took the loss for the Wildcats allowing 10 runs on 10 hits over seven-plus innings. Ka’ai Tom led the Cats with two hits and Shelby hit a solo homer in Kentucky’s two-run second inning that tied the game.

Vanderbilt and Kentucky meet tomorrow night at 5:30 p.m. CT on SEC Network+. Lefty Philip Pfeifer gets the ball for the Dores against Wildcats’ right-hander Dustin Beggs.