The Vols (25-29, 10-19 SEC) took the season series for the first time since 2006 and for the first time in Nashville since the 2001 season.
The Commodores dropped their third straight contest to fall to 31-23 and 12-16 in conference play. VU now holds a half game lead over Kentucky for the eighth and final spot in the SEC tournament. The Wildcats withstood a late rally by Florida to defeat the Gators 8-7 in Gainesville. A Commodore win or UK loss will clinch the spot for VU, while the Wildcats need to win and have the Dores lose to take the final spot.
"We just didn't get it done tonight," said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. "It's the way it goes and we need to win tomorrow. We had opportunities and didn't take advantage of them. We couldn't get the ball in play with someone on third; that's happened six times. Tennessee gained the momentum and just didn't let go."
The Commodores have struggled in the series with men on base, leaving 10 men on in tonight's contest and 11 in last night's game.
"We didn't execute when we had runners in scoring position and that came back and hurt us in the end," said right fielder Steven Liddle.
Zach Osborne's RBI single in the third staked the Vols to a 1-0 lead. VU tied the game in the fourth on a sacrifice fly RBI by Andrew Giobbi.
UT took the lead back in the fifth when Charley Thurber doubled to left, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Osborne's double to left.
Jonathan White singled to start the fifth, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Brian Harris' double off the "Green Monster" in left to tie the game at 2-2.
The Vols took a 3-2 lead in the sixth on a bases loaded sacrifice fly RBI by Matt Hamaker. They added to the lead with Blake Forsythe's two-run homer to left in the eighth to make it 5-2.
VU starter Mike Minor gave up five runs on 10 hits in 7.2 innings with seven strikeouts and two walks in the no decision.
The Commodores rallied to take the lead in the bottom of the eighth, scoring four runs in the frame with senior Jonathan White capping things off with a two-run double to centerfield. Steven Liddle walked with one out and scored on a RBI double by Curt Casali to make it 5-3. Aaron Westlake then reached on an error, advancing Casali to third. Joe Loftus was intentionally walked to load the bases in order to have a force out at any base before White came through with his double to center to give VU its first lead of the game at 6-5.
The Vols stormed right back in the top of the ninth as Charley Thurber led off with a double down the left field line off of Vanderbilt closer Russell Brewer. It was the third double of the night for Thurber who led the Vols with three runs scored. Brewer struck out Matt Ramsey and then had Zach Osborne down to his final strike, before he singled on the 1-2 pitch to center to tie the game. It was his third hit and third RBI of the contest.
Riley Reynolds walked to lead off the ninth off of reliever Will Locante and then moved to second when Steven Liddle was hit by a pitch. Curt Casali sacrificed both runners into scoring position, but Westlake struck out and after an intentional walk to Giobbi, Loftus struck out to end the inning.
"In most of these situations, we search for something that isn't there," said Corbin. "We just couldn't capitalize on having runners in scoring position."
The Commodores and Vols will play the final game of the three-game set on Saturday at Noon. Junior right-hander Drew Hayes (4-3, 5.72 ERA) will start for VU, while UT's starter is to be determined. The game will be televised regionally on Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS). Vanderbilt will recognize seniors Jonathan White and Nick Christiani prior to the game at 11:40.
"We know what we need to do, and we have the players to do it," added Corbin. "We just need to execute and win a baseball game."
Tennessee 001 011 021 1 - 7(14)2 Vanderbilt 000 110 040 0 - 691Lockwood, Gruver (6), McCray (7), Morgado (8), Locante (9), Ramsey (10) and Forsythe. Minor, Cotham (8), Brewer (9), Goodenow (10), Christiani (10) and Giobbi. W- Locante 2-1, L- Goodenow 0-1. Sv- HR: UT: Forsythe (15)