Baseball: Vanderbilt 3, Kentucky 2

Nashville, Tenn.(VUAD) – No. 5 Vanderbilt rallied by No. 18 Kentucky Saturday afternoon 3-2 at Hawkins Field to clinch the series on a two-run single from Bryan Reynolds.

The Commodores (28-7, 9-5) entered the seventh inning clinging to a one-run lead thanks to Jason Delay’s first home run of the season in the fifth inning. The Wildcats (22-12, 8-6), however, tied the game up in the seventh against Vanderbilt starter Kyle Wright when Dorian Hairston doubled to leadoff the inning, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a passed ball. The Wildcats scratched out the go-ahead run in the eighth against reliever Matt Ruppenthal on a leadoff single and two VU errors before Ruppenthal could strike out the side to strand the bases loaded.

Trailing for the first time, the Commodores quickly went to work with Tyler Campbell leading off the eighth with a single up the middle against Kentucky reliever Zach Strecker. Connor Kaiser’s bunt was perfectly placed as the ball took a high hop off the turf to allow Kaiser to reach base and move Campbell to second. Pinch hitter Penn Murfee’s well-executed slash play produced a high, one-hopper to the right side to push both runners into scoring position as the Cats narrowly got Murfee at first. With two runners in scoring position and first base open, Kentucky intentionally walked Jeren Kendall to load the bases for Reynolds. The junior delivered in a big way, lining a single up the middle to score both runs and put Vandy back in the lead.

In from the bullpen for the ninth, Ben Bowden closed down his seventh save of the season in the ninth, pitching around a one-out single by Evan White with a pair of strikeouts. The victory seals Vanderbilt’s seventh series win of the season.

Ruppenthal picked up the win with his inning of relief despite allowing one unearned run. Wright was sharp over seven strong innings in a no decision. The right-hander pitched out of jams most of the day stranding runners in five of his seven frames. He left Wildcats standing at third to end innings in the first, third, fifth and seventh to allow only one unearned run on five hits with six strikeouts. The sophomore has allowed six runs, five earned, over his last four starts (27.1 IP) with 28 strikeouts but is 0-2 during the stretch.

Seven different Commodores recorded one hit apiece in the win with Reynolds’ single pushing his hitting streak to seven games. Delay’s home run in the fifth inning was his second career round tripper.

Strecker took the loss for Kentucky allowing two runs on three hits and recording just one out. Starter Dustin Beggs was solid over seven innings giving up one run on four hits with no walks and five strikeouts. Kole Cottam posted two of the Cats’ seven hits.

The Commodores and Wildcats wrap up the series tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m. at Hawkins Field on SEC Network+. Freshman Patrick Raby is set to make his first SEC start against Kentucky’s Kyle Cody.

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