NASHVILLE, Tenn. — No. 5 Vanderbilt clinched the series over No. 15 Kentucky with a 9-3 win Saturday afternoon at Hawkins Field.
The Commodores were led offensively by freshmen RJ Austin and Chris Maldonado. The duo combined for four hits and six runs driven in.
Vanderbilt wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. Enrique Bradfield Jr. led off the bottom of the first with a single and stole second. RJ Schreck worked a one-out walk and Jack Bulger singled to load the bases.
Austin scored Bradfield on a sac fly and Maldonado lined a single up the middle to score Schreck, giving Vanderbilt an early 2-0 lead.
Enrique Bradfield’s stolen base in the bottom of the first was his 122nd career swipe. He moves into a tie for fifth-most in SEC history, matching South Carolina’s Mike Curry (1996-98).
Kentucky pulled even in the top of the third with a pair of runs on three hits.
Vanderbilt used back-to-back homers by a pair of freshmen to go back in front in the bottom of the third. Austin hit his fifth home run on the season with two outs in the frame and Maldonado followed with another solo shot, also his fifth, to put Vandy in front 4-2.
— Vanderbilt Baseball (@VandyBoys) April 29, 2023
Matthew Polk singled to lead off the bottom of the fourth and advanced to third on a single and sac bunt before scoring on a wild pitch to extend the Commodores’ lead.
The Wildcats used a solo homer of their own in the top of the seventh to make it 5-3, but Vanderbilt once again had an answer in the home half.
Davis Diaz and Schreck hit back-to-back singles to start things off. The pair moved up to second and third on a groundout and Austin continued his good day at the plate with a two-run single to plate Diaz and Schreck.
The Dores added two more insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth. After a leadoff single by Jonathan Vastine, Bradfield doubled to right-center to put two put two in scoring position with nobody out. Schreck grounded out to plate Vastine and Bradfield came home on wild pitch to make it 9-3.
Hunter Owen held Kentucky to two runs over four innings and tallied six strikeouts. Thomas Schultz (W, 2-1) went three frames, allowing one run on three hits. Ryan Ginther tossed the final two innings and only gave up one hit.
Vanderbilt (31-11, 15-5 SEC) will go for the sweep over Kentucky (30-12, 11-9 SEC) in Game 3 at 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon on SEC Network.