LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Vanderbilt baseball team held on for a 5-3 victory over Kentucky on Sunday afternoon at Kentucky Proud Park. With the win, the Commodores claim the series and improve to 28-11 on the season, including a 9-9 mark in SEC play.
Vanderbilt gained the early advantage in the series finale, scoring in three of the first four innings to grab the momentum. Kentucky battled back with one run in the fourth and two in the seventh to make it a two-run game, but the Commodores would hold on for the win to take the series.
Freshman right-hander Bryce Cunningham (2-0) made the start for Vandy and picked up his second win on the year. Cunningham allowed one earned run on three hits, while walking one and striking out two across 4.0 innings of action.
The Commodores used three arms out of the bullpen with the trio of Nick Maldonado, Nelson Berkwich and Thomas Schultz. Schultz notched his sixth save on the season with a stellar relief effort. He held the Wildcats to just one hit across the final 2.2 frames, while striking out four batters.
Vanderbilt plated three runs in the first. Enrique Bradfield Jr. connected on the first pitch of the ballgame with a deep drive to left center field for a solo home run to give the Commodores their first run of the day.
The inning continued with back-to-back singles from Jack Bulger and Spencer Jones before Dominic Keegan brought the second run of the inning across with the frame’s third consecutive single. After Parker Noland loaded the bases with a six-pitch walk, Tate Kolwyck lined a single to the Kentucky shortstop to score one more for Vandy to make it a 3-0 contest after one half of play.
The Commodores returned to the dish to add one more in the second. Bradfield led off the inning with an infield single before advancing to second on his 26th stolen base on the year. After advancing to third on a groundout from Bulger, Bradfield came across to score on a single to center by Spencer Jones to push Vandy’s lead to 4-0.
Vanderbilt added to its lead with one run in the fourth. Bulger began the scoring sequence, reaching on a one-out single through the left side before advancing to second on a groundout in the next at-bat. One batter later, Keegan sent a single to left field to score one and extend the lead to 5-0.
Kentucky answered back with one run of its own in the home half to break into the scoring column. The Wildcats used a solo home run to grab their first run of the day and make it a 5-1 ballgame.
Kentucky continued to chip away at the deficit with a pair of runs in the seventh to make it a two-run contest. After the leadoff man reached on a two-base error by the Vandy first baseman, an RBI double plated the first run of the inning for the Wildcats. Kentucky added one more in the frame on a RBI single to center field to bring the score to 5-3.
Kentucky reached the tying run in the ninth with two outs, but Schultz would force a flyout to right field to end the game, resulting in the 5-3 final.
Vanderbilt will take the midweek off before returning to action on Thursday. The Commodores will welcome Texas A&M to Hawkins Field for a three-game series. Thursday’s series opener is set for 7 p.m., with action airing live on ESPNU.