KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The middle innings proved to be the difference, as the second-ranked Vanderbilt baseball team claimed a 10-4 victory over No. 5 Tennessee on Sunday afternoon at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. With the win, the Commodores claim the series and improve to 28-6 on the season, including an 11-4 mark in Southeastern Conference play.
The series win marks Vanderbilt’s first road series win over a top-five opponent since taking two of three at then-No. 4 Florida on May 8-10, 2014.
After falling to an early 2-1 deficit in the series finale, Vanderbilt went on to register nine runs on 11 hits across the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings to seize momentum. The Commodore offense was led by its first four hitters in the lineup, as the foursome combined for nine of the team’s 12 hits and eight of the team’s 10 runs batted in.
Cleanup man Jack Bulger finished with a team-high three hits, while adding two RBI and one run scored. Two-hole hitter Carter Young closed out the day 2-for-3 with a team-high three RBI, while leadoff man Enrique Bradfield Jr. and three-hole hitter Dominic Keegan each finished with two knocks apiece.
The Commodores used five pitchers on the day, beginning with freshman Patrick Reilly, who made his second start of the season. Reilly worked 3.0 innings, allowing two earned runs on two hits and three walks, while striking out a career-high five batters.
Sophomore Chris McElvain (2-0) picked up his second win of the season, covering a career-long 4.0 innings, while the trio of Christian Little, Hunter Owen and Nick Maldonado each made appearances out of the bullpen.
Vanderbilt struck first in Sunday’s matchup, plating one run in the top of the first. Keegan registered his seventh home run of the season with a solo shot to put the Commodores in front, 1-0, after a half inning.
Tennessee responded in the very next frame, answering with back-to-back solo homers to take a 2-1 lead.
The Commodores plated nine runs across the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings with multiple runs each frame and a crooked number in the fourth.
Bradfield began the two-out rally in the third with a single up the middle before swiping second and third on the basepaths. Young followed with a two-strike single to left to score Bradfield and tie things at two apiece.
Young moved himself into scoring position with the team’s third stolen base of the inning, before Keegan reached on an infield single to place runners on the corners. Bulger broke the tie with hard-hit single to the shortstop to score one and place Vanderbilt in front, 3-2.
The Vanderbilt fourth began with a leadoff single from Isaiah Thomas before he advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Two batters later, Bradfield roped a single up the middle to score Thomas. In the very next at-bat, Young registered his second homer of the weekend with a two-run shot to left field to extend the lead to 6-2.
Tennessee added one in the home half with a solo shot to make it a 6-3 contest after four full.
The Commodores answered back with another two-run frame in the fifth. Bulger reached on a leadoff single to begin the inning before the Knoxville, Tennessee native, Parker Noland, belted a two-run shot to push Vandy’s lead to 8-3.
Vanderbilt built cushion with two more in the sixth. Bradfield reached on a one-out walk before stealing second and third, marking his third and fourth stolen bases of the game. After Young reached on the second walk of the inning to place runners on the corner, Bradfield scored on a sacrifice fly from Keegan. Bulger capped the frame’s scoring with a single down the right field line to plate Young and make it a 10-3 ballgame.
The Volunteers registered a leadoff home run in the seventh to set the score at 10-3, the eventual final.
Vanderbilt returns to action on Tuesday evening for the start of a four-game homestand. The Commodores welcome in-state foe Austin Peay to Hawkins Field for a midweek matchup. The contest is set for a 6:30 p.m. first pitch, with action airing live on SEC Network+.