NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A four-run eighth inning proved to be the difference, as the Vanderbilt baseball team claimed a 5-2 victory over Georgia on Friday evening at Hawkins Field. With the win, the Commodores even the series and improve to 25-4 on the season, including a 9-2 mark in Southeastern Conference play.
The two teams were tied at one apiece after six innings before the Vanderbilt offense came alive for four runs—all scored with two outs—in the bottom of the eighth to take a commanding lead.
The eighth-inning rally began with back-to-back singles from Dominic Keegan and Jack Bulger to place runners on first and second. In the next at-bat, CJ Rodriguez took a 2-0 pitch and delivered an RBI double down the left field line to plate the go-ahead run to place the Commodores in front, 2-1.
After Georgia made a call to its bullpen, Parker Noland greeted the new Bulldog pitcher with a three-run homer to add insurance and cushion the lead.
Pitching was dominant on both sides of Friday’s matchup, as 32 of the 51 combined outs on the night came via strikeout.
Jack Leiter was impressive once again, notching his fifth quality start of the season. The right-hander worked 7.0 innings of one-run baseball, allowing three hits and three walks. Leiter struck out 13 batters on the night, marking his fourth consecutive start with 10 or more strikeouts.
Fellow sophomore Nick Maldonado (1-1) followed Leiter in relief, picking up his first win of the season. Maldonado worked 1.0 scoreless frame, allowing one hit while striking out one.
Georgia struck first in Friday’s matchup, plating one run in the fourth to break the scoreless tie. The leadoff man in the inning reached on a strikeout wild pitch before a walk placed runners on first and second with nobody out. Two batters later, an RBI single to center field brought across the game’s first run to put the Bulldogs in front, 1-0.
Vanderbilt tied things with one run in the sixth. Bulger connected on his fourth home run of the season with a solo shot to left field to even things at one apiece after six full.
The Commodores seized momentum with a four-run eighth inning to take a 5-1 lead heading into the ninth. Georgia plated one run in the final inning on a solo home run to set the score at 5-2, 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., with action airing live on SEC Network+.