NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt outfielder Spencer Jones did a little bit of everything Tuesday in leading Vanderbilt a 7-2 win over visiting Middle Tennessee at Hawkins Field.
Jones stole home, tripled and drove in two runs in the victory. Teammate Enrique Bradfield went 4-for-5 with a double, a stolen base, an RBI and a run scored.
“(Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin) looked at me and said, ‘You think you can steal home?’I said, ‘Yeah I think I can steal home,’ ” Jones said of his swipe of home plate. “Then he gave the sign right away and then that was it.”
Vanderbilt, which ended the regular season with a 21-3 nonconference record, closes out the regular season starting at 7 p.m. Thursday against LSU (33-18).
On Tuesday, Briggs Rutter started the Middle Tennessee second with a solid single to left. Brett Coker then reached on an infield hit and he and Rutter moved up a base on a sacrifice bunt.
Mason Speirs lifted a sacrifice fly to center to score Rutter and give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
Vandy got that run right back in the bottom of the second thanks to a two-out RBI single up the middle off the bat of Bradfield. In the bottom of the third, with two outs, Jones’ steal of home gave the Commodores a 2-1 lead – a lead they would not relinquish.
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Jones came up with two on and two in the fourth and hit a triple to dead-centerfield putting Vandy ahead 4-1. Dominic Keegan followed that with a double into the right-field corner making it 5-1.
Jackson Galloway gave Middle Tennessee a run back in the fifth with a two-out RBI double down the line in right off Vandy reliever Grayson Moore.
Vandy tacked on a run in the sixth when Jones reached on an error with Bradfield at third – Bradfield scored making it 6-2. Keegan belted his 12th home run of the season in the seventh making it 7-2 to provide the final margin.
Vanderbilt starter Bryce Cunningham (3-1) went four innings and gave up just one run on four hits. The freshman struck out and walked two while picking up his third win of the season.
Moore relieved Cunningham and allowed one earned run over four innings while striking out five. Ryan Ginther pitched the ninth and worked around a double and a walk to preserve the win.
“That was probably very timely knowing we had a short week and had to turn around and play Thursday,” Corbin said of Tuesday’s pitching. “Grayson was really efficient. That helped us a lot. I don’t know if you could have designed it any better. Then Ginther getting another touch for a freshman, that’s really important, and he did a nice job.”
— Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for VUCommodores.com.
Follow him @MrChadBishop.