Nashville, Tenn. (VUAD) – No. 17 Vanderbilt battled back from an early deficit to beat Southeastern Louisiana 9-6 on Tuesday afternoon at Hawkins Field.
For the first time this season the Commodores (5-3) did not score first in a game with the Lions (4-3) jumping on top with a run in the first with a pair of doubles. With two down and runners on second and third, Connor Kaiser kept it from being a three-run first inning with a nice play behind second base to end the inning. The Lions made it 2-0 with a solo home run in the third inning from Taylor Schwaner. The Dores bounced back in the bottom of the fourth with Will Toffey and Julian Infante working walks in front of Jeren Kendall. The junior broke out of a two-game slump in a big way, crushing a three-run homer over the right field bleachers to put VU in front.
Southeastern Louisiana answered quickly, however, scoring four runs in the top of the fifth and chasing Vandy starter Maddux Conger. Collin Snider limited the damage but the Lions reclaimed the lead with a pair of RBI-singles followed by a RBI-double and sacrifice fly. The Commodores narrowed the gap in the bottom of the inning with some textbook small ball. Connor Kaiser reached base on an infield single and Ro Coleman was hit by a pitch to put two on for Alonzo Jones, who dropped down a sacrifice bunt to put both runners in scoring position. Toffey took advantage with a two-run single to shallow center field to make it 6-5 Lions after five.
The Commodores switched to long ball in the sixth inning to take control of the game with a pair of home runs. Kendall led off the inning with his second blast of the night, sending this one off the top of the bleachers in center field. Two batters later, freshman Harrison Ray launched his first career home run just to the right of the new building in left field for a two-run homer and 8-6 Vanderbilt lead.
The Lions put the tying run into scoring position after a walk and a double in the eighth inning but freshman Zach King entered and got leadoff hitter Jacob Seward to ground out to second to end the threat. After a Coleman RBI-single in the eighth inning pushed the VU lead to three runs, the Lions again brought the tying run to the plate against Reed Hayes in the top of the ninth. But Hayes closed down his second save with a strikeout to end the game.
Kendall led the way for the Commodores with a season-best four RBI and three hits. The two home run game is the second of his career and first since opening weekend of 2016 when he hit a pair against San Diego. Freshman JJ Bleday added a pair of hits and scored a run as one of eight different Commodores to cross the plate in the victory.
Snider earned his first win of the season with 3.2 inning of relief. The right-hander gave up one run on three hits with four strikeouts. Conger was tagged for five runs on seven hits over four-plus innings.
Bryce Tassin took the loss for Southeastern Louisiana after allowing five runs, four earned, on four hits in two-plus innings out of the bullpen. Starter Payton Robinson gave up three runs on two hits with three walks over three-plus innings. Carson Crites and Derrick Mount each had three hits for the Lions.
The two teams square off tomorrow at 4 p.m. at Hawkins Field on SEC Network+.