Lexington, Ky. (VUAD)– Vanderbilt used a late rally and a pair of home runs to salvage Sunday’s series finale at No. 16 Kentucky with a 6-4 victory.
The Commodores (18-11, 4-5) scored first with a run in the first inning but had to come from behind to pull even in the sixth on Alonzo Jones’ RBI-single through the right side of the infield. Vanderbilt missed an opportunity in the inning when right-hander Zach Pop entered for the Wildcats and struck out the first two batters he faced to strand a runner at third. The Dores and Wildcats (21-8, 7-2) entered the seventh tied 2-2 before Julian Infante led off the inning with a single up the middle for his second hit of the game. Will Toffey made sure the Commodores did not miss this opportunity, blasting his fifth homer of the season out to center field for a 4-2 Vandy lead. The rally continued when Reed Hayes walked and moved to second when Jason Delay worked a walk against new UK pitcher Logan Salow. With the Cats looking for a sacrifice bunt, Hayes alertly stole third to put runners on the corners for Harrison Ray. The freshman beat out a would-be double play to score Hayes from third and pad the VU lead to three runs.
That insurance run proved big as Riley Mahan belted his second homer of the day in the bottom of the seventh to inch Kentucky within a run. Maddux Conger bounced back from the homer to strikeout the next two batters and send the game to the eighth inning.
Infante extended the lead in the ninth, smashing a solo shot out to center field for his fifth round tripper of the year. With a two-run lead, Matt Ruppenthal went back out for his second inning of work. The right-hander navigated a one-out single in the ninth to finish off the victory and notch his third save of the season.
Conger earned the win out of the bullpen, giving up two runs on one hit over 1.1 innings. Starter Drake Fellows gave up two runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts over 4.2 innings.
Toffey matched his career-best with four hits in the win, driving in three runs. Infante added three hits and Connor Kaiser singled three times to match his career-high.
Pop took the loss in relief after giving up three runs on two hits in one inning of work. Kentucky starter Justin Lewis gave up two runs on eight hits and five walks over five innings. Mahan paced the Cats’ offense with three hits and four RBIs.
Vanderbilt returns home to Hawkins Field on Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. against UT Martin on SEC Network+.