NASHVILLE, Tenn. - No. 3 Vanderbilt rallied late to finish off a three-game sweep of rival Tennessee Sunday afternoon at a soggy Hawkins Field with a 12-8 victory.
The Commodores (25-4, 8-1) had not had the lead all day going into the bottom of the seventh inning but Kyle Smith changed that with one swing. The freshman, in his first career start in left field and first Southeastern Conference action, had walked and scored two runs in his first three plate appearances but his fourth appearance was a memorable one. With the bases loaded and the Dores down 8-6, Smith blasted a 0-1 pitch over the left field scoreboard for a grand slam to put the home team in front for good. Vandy piled on in the eighth scoring two more runs on five hits before the Volunteers (13-13, 3-6) made it exciting in the ninth. The Vols loaded the bases with two outs before Carson Fulmer entered the record the final out and notch his second save of the weekend.
The two teams battled back-and-forth through the first six innings with at least one team scoring in every inning from the second to the eighth inning. Tennessee struck first with four runs in the second inning before the Dores answered with four runs in the third. Consecutive triples from seniors Connor Harrell and Mike Yastrzemski capped the rally and drove in three of the four runs.
Nine different Commodores had at least one hit with Yastrzemski leading the way with four hits to match a career-best. Xavier Turner, John Norwood and Harrell all added two hits to the Dores' 16-hit total. Smith's home run was the first of his career and the second grand slam for VU this season joining Connor Harrell. Smith now has nine RBI on four hits with three of them going for extra bases. Scott Price led UT with a 4-for-4 afternoon and Vincent Jackson chipped in three hits in the loss. The two squads combined for 20 runs on 32 hits in the game.
Jared Miller (2-1) emerged with the victory, working two scoreless innings out of the pen for the Dores. Vanderbilt starter Philip Pfeifer gave up five runs on six hits in three-plus innings. The lefty was nearly knocked out of the game in the first when he took a one-hop groundball off the knee. Freshman Walker Buehler saw his first SEC action on the mound allowing three runs, two earned, on seven hits in 3.2 innings. Tennessee's Trevor Charpie (2-2) took his second loss of the weekend allowing Smith's slam in the seventh. The Vols' bullpen was tagged for eight runs in five innings of work.
The series sweep is the fourth sweep of the season for Vanderbilt and first SEC sweep at Hawkins Field since the Dores swept Ole Miss in the final regular season series last year. The victory also extends the Commodores' winning streak to six games.
Vanderbilt returns to action on Tuesday night when Middle Tennessee State visits Hawkins Field. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.