Nashville, Tenn. - No. 2 Vanderbilt topped Florida 5-4 Sunday afternoon at Hawkins Field in a wild travel-shortened game to clinch the series.
The scene was set before the game with Florida's travel plans determining no new inning could start after 3:15 p.m. CT. Vanderbilt (21-4, 5-1) battled back to tie the game in the sixth inning on an infield single by Xavier Turner and set up a dramatic finish as the clock counted down to 3:15 p.m.
Mike Yastrzemski opened the bottom of the seventh with a double off the left field wall. But after a strikeout and pop up to shortstop the Dores were down to one out. John Norwood was called on to pinch-hit and the sophomore delivered the game-winner. Norwood hit a hard ground ball to Florida (11-14) shortstop Casey Turgeon in the hole between third and short but Norwood legged out the single sliding into first safely. While Norwood was sliding into first base Yastrzemski was wheeling around third, just beating first baseman Vickash Ramjit's throw home sliding in with the winning run. The game, however, did not end on the play. Spencer Navin had to battle lefty Daniel Gibson as the scoreboard clock ticked over to 3:15 p.m. After an eight-pitch at-bat Navin struck out to end the game.
The Commodores jumped out on top with two runs in the first inning as Florida starter Eric Hanhold last just six batters. Vince Conde drove in the game's first run with a fielder's choice and Navin's walk with the bases loaded forced in a run. The Gators used the long ball to get back in the game with a solo home run from Taylor Gushue in the second and Justin Shafer's solo homer in the fourth tied the game. Florida added two more runs in the fourth but Vandy freshman Carson Fulmer shut the Gators down getting a strikeout and double play to end the fourth.
Mother Nature then added to the day's drama, halting play for 49 minutes in the top of the fifth with lightning and rain. Fulmer finished off the fifth and gave way to Brian Miller (3-0) in the sixth. The right-hander worked the final two innings to earn his third win of the year. Ryan Harris (3-2) took the loss for the Gators giving up two runs on two hits in his two innings. Dores' starter Philip Pfeifer was tagged for four runs on six hits in three-plus innings.
Yastrzemski led the way for the Vanderbilt offense scoring three runs and going 2-for-3 in the win. Norwood and Turner each came off the bench to drive in runs with infield singles. Shafer and Zack Powers paced the Gators with two hits apiece.
The series victory over Florida is the first for the Commodores since taking 2-of-3 from the Gators at Hawkins Field in 2009. The Dores' series victory is also the sixth straight to open the season. Vanderbilt's 5-1 start in Southeastern Conference play is the school's best since 1980 when the team started 5-1 en route to winning the league title.
The Commodores return to action on Tuesday night at Hawkins Field against Lipscomb. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m.