Vandy Knocks Off No. 2 Kentucky

Dores win 12-4 in regular-season finale

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Vanderbilt closed out the 2024 regular season Saturday with a 12-4 win at No. 2 Kentucky at Kentucky Proud Park.

The Dores pushed 12 runs across on 16 hits led by RJ Austin, Matthew Polk and Calvin Hewett with three hits each. Hewett paced the offense with three runs driven in.

As they did in each of the first two games of the series, the Commodores scored first again Saturday. Polk reached on an infield single with one out and JD Rogers followed with a single to left. With two down, Hewett doubled to score Polk and give the Dores a 1-0 lead.

Kentucky’s Ryan Nicholson homered to start off the bottom of the second to tie the game.

Davis Diaz put Vandy back in front with a solo shot to lead off the top of the third, his second home run in as many games.

The Wildcats again pulled even with another solo homer in the bottom of the fifth.

Devin Futrell took over on the mound with two outs in the fifth as starting pitcher JD Thompson eclipsed 100 pitches. Thompson held the Wildcats to two runs on five hits and totaled seven strikeouts.

Colin Barczi led off the top of the sixth with an infield single. Polk then singled and with one out, Braden Holcomb worked a walk to load the bases. Hewett continued his good day at the plate with a two-run single to center field, scoring Barczi and Polk to push Vandy back into the lead at 4-2.

The inning continued as Jonathan Vastine singled on a bunt to plate Holcomb and put runners on first and second, still with one out. Diaz ripped a single to left to score Hewett from second and make it a 6-2 game.

Kentucky loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the sixth but an inning-ending, 4-6-3 double play preserved Vandy’s four-run lead.

The Commodores continued to build their lead with two more runs in the top of the seventh. Espinal worked a leadoff walk and took second on a passed ball. Polk then doubled home Espinal and scored for the third time on a pair of wild pitches as Vandy went up 8-2.

An RBI double in the bottom of the seventh trimmed Vandy’s lead down to five.

Vandy responded with multiple runs for the third consecutive inning in the top of the eighth. A pair of fielder’s choices put Vastine on base Austin on with two outs. Espinal lined a single to left field to score both runners and push Vandy’s advantage to 10-3.

The Wildcats again pushed a run across in the home half of the inning, cutting Vandy’s lead to six.
The foot stayed on the pedal for the Commodore offense as they hung a crooked number for the fourth consecutive inning in the ninth. After Polk was hit by a pitch, pinch hitter Troy LaNeve hammered a two-run blast to right field make it 12-4, Vanderbilt.

Miller Green finished off the Wildcats with 1.2 scoreless innings. Futrell earned the win with 2.2 innings of work, his 20th career victory.

Vanderbilt improves to 35-20 on the season and 13-17 in the SEC. The Commodores will compete in Hoover, Alabama, at the SEC Tournament beginning Tuesday.