Nashville, Tenn.--The Vanderbilt Commodores took advantage of some generous defense by the Auburn Tigers to take game two 9-3 and complete the Thursday sweep of Butch Thompson’s team. The losses drop Auburn to 23-32 overall and 8-21 in SEC play while the No. 9 Commodores improved to 40-15, 17-12 in league action.
Getting just one/third of an inning from starting pitcher Cole Lipscomb, Auburn battled back to make a game of it in the fifth with a three-run home run from Niko Buentello, but that would be as close as the Tigers would get. Thompson said it was just too much of a hill to climb in game two despite solid work from Gabe Klobosits and now they’ll regroup and look for a win on the final day of regulation on Saturday.
"They just manhandled us a little bit with some really good arms," Thompson said. "I thought Gabe Klobosits came in and did a really good job in his time until he was done.
"I think three of our seven hits all came together," he added. "We had two singles and then Niko drew us back to one run. From our bullpen we weren't able to keep it there. Then they got to some of their good arms in the bullpen and that was the difference in the second game."
At the plate Jordan Ebert had three hits to go along with Buentello's home run, but that was it for the Tigers as they capped off the doubleleader by scoring in just two of the 18 innings played on Thursday.
It didn’t take long for Vanderbilt to take control of the second game on Thursday as Lipscomb struggled from the outset and never recovered in the first inning. Walking Logan Paul to start the game, Lipscomb’s only out of the game came when he Kyler Deese threw out Paul trying to steal second. It was all downhill after that for Lipscomb as he walked Kendall before Bryan Reynolds homered to make it 2-0 Commodores in the first.
A hit batter and a wild pitch moved Alonzo Jones to second base and in scoring position for Vanderbilt and Liam Sabino would make Lipscomb pay as his single scored the third run of the inning and put the Tigers in a deep hole early.
Coming on for Lipscomb in the first inning, Klobosits pitched three scoreless innings before his defense would fall apart behind him to allow another Vandy run to score. With one out Kendall lifted a shallow fly ball down the left field line that neither J.J. Shaffer nor Cody Nulph could find. Never slowing down, Kendall raced all the way around to third for a triple and scored on a ground ball to make it a four-run hole for the Tigers.
Keeping Auburn off the scoreboard for the first five innings, Vanderbilt starter John Kilichowski ran into real trouble for the first time in the top of the sixth. Leading off the inning with a single, Melvin Gray moved to second on Ebert’s third single of the game. That brought Buentello to the dish looking to do some damage.
Facing the left-hander, Buentello turned on a hanging breaking ball and launched it over the wall in right field for a three-run homer. It was his 11th of the season and pushed his season RBI total to 55, the most for an Auburn player since 2010.
Just as quickly as the Tigers would get back in the game the Commodores would take two of the runs back in the bottom of the sixth. Facing reliever Izaac Yarbrough, Ro Coleman was hit by a pitch to give Vanderbilt a base runner. It proved to be huge as Yarbrough got the next two hitters before leaving a pitch over the heart of the plate to Kendall. The Vandy right fielder didn’t miss it, driving it over the wall for a two-run shot.
The homer would make it 6-3, but the Commodores weren’t done. Facing Daniel Robert, they scored three more in the seventh to push the lead to six. That was easily enough to finish off the doubleheader sweep on Thursday.
There was some good news for Auburn on Thursday however as both Arkansas and Tennessee lost on Friday night, keeping the Tigers one game ahead of both in the race for the last spot in the SEC Tournament.
Auburn and Vanderbilt will finish off the series on Saturday at 2 p.m. with Casey Mize expected to get the start for the Tigers against Kyle Wright for the Commodores.