Nashville, Tenn. – No. 17 Vanderbilt used strong performances from the bullpen on Wednesday to beat Southeastern Louisiana 4-2 at Hawkins Field.
For the second day in a row the Lions (4-4) took an early lead, hitting two solo home runs in the second inning off Vanderbilt (6-3) starter Chandler Day. But that was all the Commodores’ pitching would give up on the day. Day bounced back to strand the bases loaded in the second and allow his offense to get the team back into the game.
Julian Infante cut the deficit in half on the first pitch of the bottom of the second, hitting a laser into the first row of the left field bleachers for his second home run of the season. After Day worked a clean third, the Commodores tied it up by taking advantage of a Lions’ error that allowed Jason Delay to reach base. Will Toffey knocked in the run by legging out a fielder’s choice to even the score at 2-2.
Once back to even and the game in the hands of the bullpen, the Commodores were in business as Paxton Stover, Matt McGarry and Reed Hayes combined for six no-hit innings to halt a potent Southeastern Louisiana offense. Stover made his Vanderbilt debut in the fourth inning, striking out the first batter he faced and then getting an inning ending double play with a strikeout and a caught stealing from Delay. Stover navigated a two-out walk in the fifth before handing the ball to McGarry in the sixth. The right-hander picked up where Stover left off by retiring the first seven batters he faced to get the Dores into the eighth inning. A walk snapped the streak but a fly out and McGarry’s second strikeout ended the inning. The sophomore ran into trouble in the ninth, issuing a pair of walks to start the frame to put the tying run aboard. Reed Hayes entered and quickly picked up two outs on a double play before striking out Brennan Breaud to end the game and notch his team-best third save of the season.
The Commodores took the lead in the fourth inning with the team’s fifth home run in two days when freshman JJ Bleday launched his first career homer into the right field seats to lead off the inning. VU again took advantage of sloppy play by Southeastern Louisiana in the fifth when Ro Coleman reached on an error, moved to second on a passed ball and eventually scored on a wild pitch to provide Vandy an insurance run.
Stover picked up the win in relief with his two innings of work. Day was solid over three innings, allowing two runs on three hits with five strikeouts. Coleman paced the VU offense with two hits and Toffey extended his hitting streak to nine games with a single up the middle in the eighth inning. Vanderbilt entered the week with two home runs in the team’s first seven games but hit five over the two games against Southeastern Louisiana.
Lions’ starter Carlisle Koestler took the loss after giving up four runs, two earned, on three hits over five innings.
The Commodores return to action on Friday afternoon against Cal State Northridge at Hawkins Field at 4 p.m. on SEC Network+. Vandy hosts the Matadors on Saturday at 4 p.m. and wrap up the series on Sunday at 1 p.m.