Vandy rallies to win wild opener against Saint Mary's

March 10, 2017

Box Score |  Karademos' Photos 

Nashville, Tenn. -- No. 25 Vanderbilt erased a six-run deficit on Friday night to win a wild series opener 9-8 over Saint Mary's at Hawkins Field.

The Commodores (10-5) entered the bottom of the fifth inning trailing 7-1 after the Gaels (9-4) put a pair of three-run innings on the scoreboard in the third and fifth innings and answered a Vandy run from the fifth with another in the top of the sixth. Julian Infante and Stephen Scott opened the bottom of the sixth with back-to-back singles, but a strikeout and a pop out brought Jason Delay to the plate with two down. The senior worked a walk to load the bases for JJ Bleday, who smashed a two-run single off the Gaels' first baseman to cut the deficit to four runs.

Connor Kaiser drew the second walk of the inning to load the bases and send Saint Mary's to the bullpen for Drew Strotman. The right-hander struggled with command, walking Jeren Kendall and Will Toffey to force two more runs in and bring Vanderbilt with in two. Infante delivered with a double to left-center field that a diving Brett Rasso missed to clear the bases and put the Dores in front.

Saint Mary's answered quickly in the seventh, however, when Eddie Haus led off the inning by reaching on an error and Kevin Milam doubled to right to put two runners in scoring position against VU reliever Collin Snider. A bouncer over the mound recorded the first out of the inning but brought the Gaels even at 8-8. Snider worked out of the jam with a strikeout and a fly out to center field.

The Commodores moved in front to stay in the bottom of the inning after Reed Hayes and Ethan Paul led off with consecutive walks. Delay dropped down a sacrifice bunt that moved both runners into scoring position for Bleday. The freshman delivered again with a chopper to the right side of the infield that bounced just high enough to allow Hayes to race home and score the go-ahead run from third.

Matt Ruppenthal was called on from the Dores' bullpen to close it out but had to navigate trouble in both the eighth and ninth innings. The junior walked the leadoff hitter in the eighth and allowed the go-ahead run to reach after a strikeout-wild pitch put runners on the corners. He bounced back, however, with two straight strikeouts to end the threat. Ruppenthal again walked the leadoff hitter to start the ninth and backed it up with a hit batter to push the tying run into scoring position. But a sacrifice bunt attempt was popped up to the right-hander who caught it and tossed to first to double off the runner. A fly out to right ended the game and wrapped up Ruppenthal's second save of the season.

Snider picked up the win out of the bullpen allowing one unearned run on one hit in his lone inning of work. Vanderbilt starter Kyle Wright gave up six runs, five earned, on 10 hits with seven strikeouts over four-plus innings. Lefty Paxton Stover played a key part in the game when he entered with runners on second and third and no outs in the fifth and quickly shut the inning down, retiring all three batters he faced.

The Commodores drew nine walks in the team's fourth straight win and have now drawn 34 walks during the team's winning streak. Infante led the way with both of his hits and three RBIs in the game coming in the fateful seventh inning rally. Bleday drove in three and Kendall two while Delay crossed the plate twice in the win.

Saint Mary's reliever Ken Waldichuk took the loss after allowing the go-ahead run in the seventh. Gaels' starter Cameron Neff gave up six runs on five hits and five walks over 5.2 innings. Zach Kirtley had three hits and three RBIs in the loss.

Patrick Raby gets the ball for the Commodores tomorrow against Jake Valdez on SEC Network+. Tomorrow's game time has been moved up to 11 a.m. due to the weather forecast.



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