NASHVILLE — A two-run single from Bryan Reynolds in the bottom of the eighth inning lifted No. 4 Vanderbilt to a 3-2 comeback win over No. 9 Kentucky to clinch the series, on a perfect Saturday afternoon at Charles Hawkins Field.
After Kentucky (22-12, 8-6 Southeastern Conference) had rallied from behind a run with the tying run in the seventh and the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, Vanderbilt loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth inning with one out. Reynolds gave the Dores a lead with a single up the middle, lifting Vandy to a series-clinching win after a 3-1 win on Friday night. It marks the first series loss of the season for the Wildcats, which own series wins over No. 1 Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.
UK starter Dustin Beggs took a hard-luck no decision, working seven innings, allowing four hits and one run, not issuing a walk and striking out five. He exited in the eighth inning with a 2-1 lead in favor of senior Zach Strecker. Strecker (2-1) suffered the loss, allowing the two decisive runs to score in the inning. Sean Hjelle took over with one out, escaping the jam.
Vanderbilt (28-7, 9-5 SEC) starter Kyle Wright worked seven innings without allowing an earned run in a no-decision, walking two and striking out six. In a 1-1 game, Matt Ruppenthal took over to start the eighth inning. Ruppenthal (3-1) worked the eighth inning, allowing an unearned run in the win. Ben Bowden took over in the ninth, working his seventh save of the year.
The series will conclude on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET at Charles Hawkins Field.
The Commodores opened the scoring with a one-out , solo homer from Jason Delay in the bottom of the fifth, sent over the leftfield fence for his first blast of the year.
Kentucky evened up the game in the top of the seventh inning as Hairston led off with a double, taking third on a wild pitch with one out. On a 2-2 offering to Wilson, a passed ball allowed Hairston to score the tying run with a head-first slide.
The Wildcats rallied in the top of the eighth inning, starting with a leadoff single from McNeill, who was pinch ran for by Marcus Carson. Reks then laid down a two-strike bunt, with the throw from third base sailing wide of the bag and into the dugout, allowing the pair to move into scoring position. After a strikeout for the first out and with the infield pulled in with the go-ahead runner at third, Luke Becker chopped a grounder to first, with Carson going from third. First baseman Ethan Paul’s throw sailed wide of the plate, allowing Carson to score UK’s second run.
The Commodores regained the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning, starting with Tyler Campbell singling up the middle. Connor Kaiser then laid down a high-hop bunt single that allowed him to reach on a base hit. After a ground out pushed both runners in to scoring position with one out, UK intentionally walked Jeren Kendall. Reynolds then singled up the middle, allowing Campbell and Kaiser to score to take a 3-2 lead.