Eight first-inning runs send Vanderbilt to third consecutive series win
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- With the series on the line, No. 10 Vanderbilt scored eight runs in the first inning en route to a 16-2 series-clinching win at No. 11 Florida on Saturday.
The Commodores (38-14, 16-11) patience at the plate paid off in the first as Gators' (34-18, 19-8) starter Karsten Whitson walked the first three batters of the game. Zander Wiel cashed in on the opportunity, ripping a single up the middle to score two runs. Vince Conde made it 5-0 Vandy with a towering, three-run homer to left field for his fourth round tripper of the year. Conde's homer ended Whitson's day and brought in lefty A.J. Puk but an error and another walk put Dores on the corners. Ro Coleman failed on a safety squeeze attempt but Dansby Swanson immediately picked him up in a big way. Swanson smashed a line drive into the left-center field gap that just cleared the wall for the Commodores' second three-run homer of the inning and an eight-run first inning.
The Vandy offense was relentless throughout the day in winning the team's third consecutive series and second consecutive on the road. The Commodores added two runs in the third, four more in the sixth and finally two more in the seventh. The Dores' four-run seventh was aided by three walks and a hit batter with Coleman drawing a bases loaded walk for the first run. Bryan Reynolds' two-run single with two outs capped the rally.
Nine different Commodores registered hits in the win led by Swanson, who drove in a career-best four runs. Coleman had his best game in the Black & Gold reaching base four times, scoring two runs and driving in two more to set career-bests. Xavier Turner and Wiel each drove in two runs and Jason Delay scored three times.
Staked to an early lead, Tyler Ferguson was shaky over his first two innings walking three batters. But the right-hander battled out of the jams with a double play in the first and another ground ball in the second allowed him to escape a first and third jam. He found his stride in the third allowing only a two-out single before settling in to retire the final seven he faced. Ferguson improved to 7-3 with his five scoreless innings allowing two hits, three walks and three strikeouts. The Vandy pitching staff's scoreless streak against the Gators was snapped in the eighth inning at 23.2 innings by Richie Martin's first career home run.
The series win in Gainesville is the first for Vanderbilt since 2006 and the Commodores have now won consecutive series vs. the Gators for the first time since 2006-07.
Whitson took the loss for Florida allowing five runs on two hits and three walks while recording only one out. The Gators' pitching staff was rocked for 19 runs on 23 hits over the final two games of the series.