Nashville, Tenn. (VUAD)– No. 7 Vanderbilt evened its series with UIC on Saturday afternoon with a 6-2 victory at Hawkins Field.
For the sixth time in six games this season the Commodores (4-2) scored first with freshman JJ Bleday making his mark on the game early. Moved up to the second spot in the lineup, Bleday put VU on the board in the third inning with a RBI-single up the middle to score Ro Coleman. Moments later, Will Toffey pushed the lead to two runs with a ground-rule double into the left field seats.
Bleday capped a three-run fourth inning with an excellent use of bat control as he guided an outside pitch into the left field corner for a two-run double and a 5-0 Vandy lead. The Panama City Beach, Fla. native added his second double of the day in the sixth before working a walk in the eighth inning to end his afternoon 3-for-4 with three RBIs and a walk. The freshman now leads the team with four doubles, eight RBIs and seven walks.
For the second week in a row, Patrick Raby was handed a lead and for the second week in a row the sophomore took advantage, picking up his second win of the year with six strong innings. The right-hander faced only one jam through the first four innings, navigating consecutive singles to lead off the second with a pair of strikeouts and a bunt back to the pitcher. A walk and an error cost him the only run of the day as he issued a free pass with one down to Brandon Gibis, who came around to score on a Jason Delay throwing error with two down. Raby finished the day allowing one unearned run on three hits with six strikeouts to improve to 2-0.
The Flames (3-3) brought the tying run to the plate in the eighth inning, loading the bases against freshman lefty Zach King. The Commodores handed the ball to Drew Hayes, who made his Vanderbilt pitching debut in a big way by getting Ricardo Ramirez to fly out to center field and then work a clean ninth inning to earn his first save as a Commodore.
The two teams will play for the series tomorrow at 1 p.m. on SEC Network+ with the Commodores sending freshman Drake Fellows to the mound against the Flames’ Reid Birlingmair.