HOOVER, Ala. -- Tenth-ranked Vanderbilt survived a late scare from Tennessee to edge the Volunteers 3-2 in the opening game of the Southeastern Conference tournament
The Commodores (41-16) took a one-run lead into the top of the ninth and called on Carson Fulmer to close out the game. But Nick Senzel ripped a leadoff double to left to put the Volunteers (31-23) in scoring position to tie the game. Fulmer made matters worse with a balk to move Senzel to third with no outs. The Vandy defense, however, came up big for Fulmer when Taylor Smart hit a one-hopper to Xavier Turner at third. The sophomore fielded the bouncer and tagged Senzel before he could get back to bag for the first out of the inning. Fulmer took care of the rest from there, picking off Smart at first and striking out Vincent Jackson to end the game and earn his team-best 10th save of the season.
Vandy jumped on Tennessee starter Hunter Martin in the first inning to grab an early lead. Consecutive singles from Turner and Bryan Reynolds put two runners aboard before Vince Condecame through with a clutch, two-out single to score Turner from third. Reynolds came into score when Conde stole second and Tennessee catcher Tyler Schulz's throw bounced into center field.
The Volunteers battled back to tie the game in the top of the second before the Commodores took it for good in the bottom of the inning. Rhett Wiseman led off the inning with a hard-hit triple to right-center field and scored two batters later on Ro Coleman's infield single.
Vandy starter Walker Buehler was stellar in his eight innings, allowing two runs on six hits with five strikeouts to become the first Commodore with 10 wins this season. After giving up two runs in the second inning, the right-hander settled in and retired 17 of the final 20 batters he faced to get the Dores to the ninth inning. Martin took the loss for Tennessee allowing three runs, two earned, on six hits over three innings.
Turner led the Commodores with three hits to match his total from the previous four games. Senzel led the Volunteers with three of the team's seven hits.
Vanderbilt advances to take on LSU tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. ET at The Hoover Met.