Nashville, Tenn. (VUAD)– No. 17 Vanderbilt struggled in a 6-4 loss to CSUN in the series opener at Hawkins Field on Friday.
A Will Toffey two-run homer in the first inning put the Commodores (6-4) in front early but the team failed to take advantage of two more singles, leaving a runner at third base to begin a trend in the game. The Matadors (5-4) battled back to tie the game in the third inning, taking advantage of a Vandy error. A leadoff walk from starter Kyle Wright looked to be erased with a bouncer up the middle but Connor Kaiser’s flip to Ethan Paul at second was dropped. A second walk loaded the bases before a sacrifice fly cut the VU lead in half. A wild pitch tied the game moments later.
The Matadors pieced together a three-run fifth inning to take the lead. A chopper down the first base line started all the trouble when it hit the first base bag and bounced into the air, Wright was unable to make the barehanded play off the bounce as Justin Toerner reached with one out. A single through the left side from Fred Smith put two runners aboard and an infield single from Riley Conlan loaded the bases. Another sacrifice fly put CSUN in front before a strange play put another run on the board. With runners on first and third, Conlan took off from first base but Jason Delay’s throw was deflected by Wright and rolled in between second and third to allow Smith to score from third. A RBI-double from Albee Weiss capped the rally and made it 5-2 in favor of the visitors.
Vanderbilt came right back with Ethan Paul leading off with a double down the left field line. Infante’s single scored Paul and was followed by a single from Kendall. A hit-and-run groundout put both runners in scoring position but a strikeout ended the frame and pushed the Dores’ total to seven left on base through the first five innings.
The Commodores loaded the bases in the seventh inning with three walks but left the bases loaded for the second time. After CSUN added a run in the eighth inning, Vanderbilt looked to mount a rally in the ninth when Infante singled and Kendall walked to bring the tying run to the plate. Two wild pitches helped move Infante around the bases and cross home plate to bring VU within in two runs but a pair of groundouts negated the rally and ended the game.
Wright took the loss after allowing five runs, three earned, on six hits over five innings. The right-hander fanned eight and walked two in his second loss. Freshman Zach King turned in a career-best four innings of relief, giving up one run on two hits with three strikeouts.
Infante led the Commodores’ offense with three hits and Paul added a pair of hits and two runs. Toffey’s homer was the first since his freshman year in 2015. Vanderbilt’s 12 runners left on base matched the team’s season-high.
CSUN starter Andrew Weston earned the win after giving up three runs on 10 hits over six innings. Conner O’Neil earned his second save of the season by working the final 2.2 innings. Weiss drove in two runs with two hits.
The Commodores will send Patrick Raby to the mound tomorrow afternoon in the second game of the series against the Matadors’ Tei Vanderford. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.