GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Vanderbilt baseball team fell in a back-and-forth affair to 14th-ranked Florida, 11-8, on Saturday evening at Florida Ballpark. With the loss, the Commodores move to 32-8 on the season, including a 14-6 mark in Southeastern Conference play.
Offense continued to highlight the weekend, as both teams combined for 19 runs and six home runs. Runs were scored in eight of the nine innings on the day, the contest featured five lead changes and two ties.
The two teams traded runs across the first four innings, before Florida scored six unanswered runs across the middle innings to seize control. Vanderbilt made things interesting with two runs across the final two frames, but would get no closer as Florida held on for the victory to even the series.
Starter Jack Leiter (7-2) suffered his second loss of the season. Leiter allowed seven runs—five earned—on five hits and four walks, while striking out four.
Vanderbilt struck first in Saturday’s matchup, plating one run in the top of the first. Leadoff man Enrique Bradfield Jr. reached n an error to begin the inning before Dominic Keegan lined a single to right field on a hit-and-run, resulting in runners on first and third. One batter later, Jack Bulger brought across the game’s first run, sending a ball to right field to put Vanderbilt in front, 1-0.
Florida responded in the very next frame, as a three-run homer gave the Gators a 3-1 lead after one inning of action.
The Commodores scored a pair of runs in the second to tie things at three apiece. With one down, Spencer Jones was hit by a pitch, while Tate Kolwyck followed with a double down the third base line to place runners on second and third. After Maxwell Romero Jr. brought one across on an RBI groundout, Bradfield plated the tying run on a single to left field to make it a 3-3 ballgame.
Vanderbilt took the lead in the third, as Parker Noland registered his sixth home run of the season with a solo shot to left to put the Commodores ahead, 4-3.
Florida answered back with a pair of solo shots in the home half to take a 5-4 advantage after four innings of action.
The two teams traded runs once again in the fourth, as Vanderbilt plated two in the top of the frame. Jones reached on a leadoff single before Romero connected on his third home run of the season with a two-run shot to right field to give the Commodores a 6-5 lead.
Florida went on two runs each in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to gain momentum and take an 11-6 lead after six innings of play.
Vanderbilt did not go quietly, as the Commodores scored one run in both the eighth and the ninth. With one down in the eighth, Isaiah Thomas and Jones reached on back-to-back singles, before Kolwyck lined an RBI single to left to trim the deficit to 11-7.
Bradfield began the ninth with a leadoff triple to right field, while crossing the plate on an RBI groundout from Carter Young to set the score at 11-8, the eventual final.
The two teams will return to the diamond tomorrow afternoon for the series finale. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. CT, with action airing live on ESPN2.