NASHVILLE, Tenn. --- A day after giving up 18 hits to Florida, Caleb Cotham limited the Gators to just four hits in eight innings of work in Vanderbilt’s 4-3 win Saturday afternoon at Hawkins Field.
The Commodores snapped a four-game losing streak to move to 18-12 overall and 4-7 in Southeastern Conference play, while the Gators (19-10, 7-4 SEC) seven-game league winning streak ended with the loss.
“This was a game we really needed,” said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. “We needed to gain some confidence, because collectively after yesterday’s game, our confidence was a little bit low.”
Cotham (4-3) allowed three runs, one earned, on four hits in eight innings of work with six strikeouts and five walks. He snapped a personal three-game losing streak and picked up his first SEC win of the year.
Vanderbilt trailed 3-1 in the sixth when the Dores loaded the bases off of Florida starter Nick Maronde. Steven Liddle led off with a single, Curt Casali reached on an error and Andrew Giobbi singled to left before Aaron Westlake grounded to first to bring a run in. Jason Esposito grounded to second to bring Casali in and tie the game at 3-3.
VU took the lead in the seventh when Alex Hilliard reached on an error, moved to second on a bunt by Brian Harris and then over to third on an infield single by Riley Reynolds. Steven Liddle reached on a fielder’s choice as he grounded to first. UF’s Preston Tucker tried to throw Hilliard out at home on the play, but his throw was late allowing VU to take a 4-3 lead.
Sonny Gray came on in the ninth and recorded the first out in the inning, before giving up a single to Brandon McArthur. Jonathan Pigott struck out looking and pinch-runner Riley Cooper stole second before pinch hitter Buddy Foster walked on a full-count pitch to put the go ahead run on base. Matt den Dekker lined out to left to end the game as Gray picked up his fourth save of the year.
“For the most part our energy was good,” said Corbin after the game. “Caleb started pitching well after the second inning and Sonny came in and closed it out, though it took him 22 pitches to do so.”
The Gators scored an unearned run in the first to take a 1-0 lead. UF had runners on the corners when Caleb Cotham threw over to first in a pick off attempt that was low and went into right. Matt den Dekker who was at third easily scored on the error.
The Commodores got a run back in the bottom half on Andrew Giobbi’s sacrifice fly RBI with the bases loaded.
Florida took a 2-1 lead in the third when den Dekker singled, stole second and scored on a Josh Adams’ hard shot to short that Brian Harris couldn’t handle.
The Gators pushed the lead to 3-1 in the sixth courtesy of Buddy Monroe’s solo homer to left, his third round-tripper of the year.
“I could tell it was going to be a tough game just because they wanted to win so much,” said Corbin. “It wasn’t easy, because it was forced a little bit, but hopefully this (win) leads to another one.”
The Commodores and Gators will play the final game of the series Sunday at 1 p.m. Neither team had decided on their starter on the mound after the game.