Nashville, Tenn. – No. 7 Vanderbilt dropped the series opener 5-3 to UIC in 10 innings on Friday afternoon at Hawkins Field.
The teams battled through a pitcher’s duel for seven innings until the Flames (3-2) scratched out two runs in the eighth inning to take their first lead of the game at 3-1. The Commodores (3-2) answered immediately in the bottom of the inning but waited until two outs to pull even. Will Toffey singled with one away and Julian Infante walked with two down to set up JJ Bleday. The freshman delivered by ripping a two-run double into the right field corner to tie the game at 3-3 before being thrown out at third to end the inning.
Back out for his fourth inning of work in the 10th, Collin Snider struggled by walking the leadoff man and then made matters worse with an errant throw to first base on a bunt play to put runners on the corners with no outs. Brandon Gibis came through with the big hit for the Flames, doubling off the left field wall to score the runner from third to end Snider’s night and put UIC in front for good. Matt Ruppenthal limited the damage but a sacrifice fly from Rob Calabrese gave the visitors a two-run cushion headed into the bottom of the inning.
Vanderbilt was unable to get anything going in the 10th as Connor Ryan finished off his first win of the year for the Flames by striking out the side.
The Commodores took a quick lead in the first inning when Jeren Kendall crushed a ball off the top of the batter’s eye to lead off the bottom of the first inning. But UIC answered back with a solo homer of its own when Scott Ota took VU starter Kyle Wright into the left field bleachers. Vanderbilt threatened again in the second and third innings but could not come up with a hit with runners in scoring position, finishing the night 1-for-6.
Snider took the loss for Vanderbilt, giving up four runs, two earned, on three hits over three-plus innings of relief. Wright turned in a solid second start, giving up just the one run on four hits with no walks and seven strikeouts over six innings.
Kendall and Toffey paced the Vandy offense with two hits apiece. Cody Bohanek led UIC with three hits and Ota added three runs. Starter Jake Dahlberg allowed one run on three hits with four walks over five frames.
The Commodores are back in action tomorrow at noon with Patrick Raby on the hill against the Flames’ Jack Andersen.