NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Vanderbilt rallied from an early deficit to clinch the series over No. 23 Florida on Saturday, defeating the Gators, 8-6, at Hawkins Field.
Florida hit three home runs in the first four innings to jump out to a 4-0 lead. The Gators hit a solo homer in the top of the second, before homering twice in top of the fourth to take a four-run lead.
Dominic Keegan put Vandy on the board with a leadoff solo shot to right in the bottom of the fourth. Keegan’s team-leading seventh long ball on the season cut the Florida lead to 4-1.
Donye Evans relieved Vandy starter Carter Holton to start the fifth inning. Holton struck out eight while allowing four runs on four hits.
The Commodores continued to chip away at the deficit with one run in the fifth. Davis Diaz was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and Carter Young singled to put two on with no outs. After a fielder’s choice placed runners on the corners, Javier Vaz roped an RBI single into right field to score Diaz, trimming Florida’s lead to 4-2.
Vanderbilt struck for four runs in the bottom of the sixth to jump on top. Spencer Jones began the inning with a double to left and moved up 90 feet on a groundout. Jonathan Vastine laid down a safety squeeze with one out and Jones slid under the tag to score Vandy’s third run on the night.
Carter Young worked a walk to load the bases with two outs for Enrique Bradfield Jr., who drove a 1-2 pitch to the wall in right-center, clearing the bases for his fourth triple on the season to give Vanderbilt a 6-4 lead.
The Gators responded with a two-run homer in the top of the seventh to pull even at 6-6.
Vandy wasted no time regaining the lead. Jones and Jack Bulger earned back-to-back walks with one out. Tate Kolwyck singled through the left side allowing Jones to score from second to make it a 7-6 game.
The Commodores scored for the fifth consecutive inning with a run in the bottom of the eighth to go up 8-6, the eventual final result. Bradfield legged out an infield single, moved up to second on a sac bunt and scored on a Keegan RBI single to right.
Nick Maldonado (2-1) earned the win with an inning of work. Thomas Schultz threw the final two innings and didn’t allow a run to pick up his fifth save on the year. Florida put the tying run on base in the top of the ninth, but Schultz shut the door with his second strikeout of the night.
Vanderbilt (25-9, 7-7) and Florida will meet for the series finale at noon CT on Sunday. Sunday’s contest will air on ESPN2.