Liftoff in Houston

Alan Espinal’s home run lifts Vandy past Louisiana

HOUSTON – Vanderbilt scored seven unanswered runs Friday to defeat Louisiana 7-4 at Minute Maid Park.

The Commodores fell behind 3-0 in the top of the fourth but scored two runs in the fifth, one in the sixth and then three in the seventh to rally against the Ragin’ Cajuns.

Alan Espinal provided the go-ahead hit in the bottom of the seventh. With the score tied 3-3 and two runners on base, Espinal rocketed a three-run blast to the bleachers in left to put the Commodores in front 6-3.

The comeback started in the bottom of the fifth. Jonathan Vastine knocked a one-out double and came around to score on a single by RJ Austin who finished with three hits. Camden Kozeal then doubled down the line in right to score Austin all the way from first and cut Louisiana’s lead to one.

After Davis Diaz singled in the bottom of the fifth, Calvin Hewett drilled a game-tying RBI triple, scoring Diaz.

Austin got things going in the bottom of the seventh with a one-out double. Kozeal then singled to put runners on the corners. That’s when Espinal drove his big homer to left field, putting Vandy up 6-3. The homer extended Espinal’s hit streak to 16 games.

The Commodores scored an insurance run in the eighth. Davis Diaz doubled to center and then took third on a wild pitch before scoring on an error.

Louisiana made things interesting in the top of the ninth, bringing the tying run to the plate with the bases loaded, but Miller Green (S, 1) held Louisiana to one run in the inning en route to his first collegiate save.

Greysen Carter (W, 1-0) earned the win with three innings of work. Carter allowed one run on two hits with four strikeouts. Carter Holton went five innings for Vandy, striking out six.

Vanderbilt takes on Houston Saturday at 11:05 a.m. at Minute Maid Park. The action will be streamed live without a paywall on and on the Astros X, Facebook and YouTube channels.