Despite the loss, Vanderbilt's magic number to reach the SEC tournament was reduced to one due to Kentucky's 10-3 loss at Florida. The highest the Commodores can still finish is seventh and the lowest is ninth.
"We didn't pitch well at the beginning," said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. "We have a bad inning and it just keeps coming. This loss and losses like these are tough to swallow."
VU held a 6-4 lead in the sixth when Blake Forsythe was hit by a pitch by Grayson Garvin. Forsythe advanced to second on a slow grounder to short and then scored on a RBI single by P.J. Polk. Cody Grisham and Zach Osborne added RBI singles to give the Vols a 7-6 lead.
UT scored another run in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Polk to extend the lead to 8-6. The Dores had a chance to tie the game or win it in the ninth, loading the bases on three infield singles with no outs, but reliever Matt Ramsey came in and got Andrew Giobbi to pop out and Jason Esposito to strike out before Jonathan White flew out to left to end the game.
Nick Hernandez gave up six runs, three earned, on 10 hits in eight innings with seven strikeouts and five walks to improve to 4-5 on the year. Ramsey picked up his second save of the season.
Garvin (0-1) was charged with the loss after giving up three runs on two hits in 1.1 innings with a walk and a strikeout in his first collegiate loss.
The Vols got to VU starter Sonny Gray early, scoring two runs in the first and a run in both the second and third innings. Gray ended up allowing four runs on eight hits in four innings with four strikeouts and four walks.
VU trailed 3-0 in the third when Joe Loftus led off with a single. Brian Harris followed with a single and both runners advanced when Riley Reynolds reached on a bunt single. Steven Liddle grounded out to first to score a run and then Curt Casali flied out to deep center to score two more as Kentrail Davis threw the ball away trying to get it back into the infield.
The Dores took the lead in the fourth scoring scoring a run on a RBI double by Joe Loftus and another on a fielding error by Tennessee, one of four the Vols made on the day.
Jonathan White's RBI double in the fifth extended the lead to 6-4.
Cody Hawn's two-run homer in the top of the first staked the Vols to a 2-0 lead. Zach Osborne's two-out RBI single through the right side extended the lead to 3-0 in the second.
The Commodores and Vols will play the second game of the three-game set on Friday at 6 p.m. Junior southpaw Mike Minor (5-4, 3.72 ERA) will start for VU, while UT's starter is to be determined.
Tennessee 211 003 100 - 8(11)4 Vanderbilt 003 210 00x - 6(10)0Hernandez, Ramsey (9) and Forsythe. Gray, Garvin (5), Reid (6), Goodenow (6) and Giobbi. W- Hernandez 4-5, L- Garvin 0-1. Sv- Ramsey (2) HR: UT: Hawn 2(21)