NASHVILLE, Tenn. --- Down 9-2 in the bottom of the sixth, Vanderbilt exploded for 14 runs over the final three innings to defeat Florida, 16-9, Sunday afternoon at Hawkins Field.
The Commodores picked up their first Southeastern Conference series win of the year and the first since sweeping Tennessee last May. It was the first SEC series win at home since taking two of three against Auburn (April 18-20) last season.
VU is now 19-12 overall and 5-7 in league play. UF fell to 19-11 overall and 7-5 in conference action.
The Gators broke open a 2-2 game with three runs in the fifth and four more in the sixth, giving them a comfortable 9-2 lead.
Florida starter Stephen Locke had limited the Dores to just two runs, one earned on five hits in five innings of work.
The Gators went to Patrick Keating out of the pen in the sixth and the Dores started the comeback, scoring two runs to cut the lead to 9-4. Curt Casali and Andrew Giobbi led off with back-to-back singles. Pinch-hitter Alex McClure grounded to third to advance the runners and Jason Esposito struck out for the second out. Joe Loftus then hit Keating's first pitch offering to right-center to start the rally as two runs came home.
Vanderbilt tied the game up in the seventh with five runs in the stanza. Brian Harris walked to lead off the inning. The Gators went to Tony Davis out of the pen and he gave up a single to Riley Reynolds. Anthony DeSclafini came on in relief and Steven Liddle reached on a fielder's choice grounder as Reynolds was thrown out at second. Curt Casali then hit a hard grounder down the left field line to score both Harris and Liddle. Andrew Giobbi grounded to third and Alex McClure came up and looped a single to right-center to cut the lead to 9-7. Jason Esposito followed with a single to advance McClure to second and then the Gators went to closer Billy Bullock out of the pen. He got Joe Loftus to ground to first in what looked to be the third out of the inning. First baseman Preston Tucker bobbled the ball, however, allowing Loftus to reach safely. Jonathan White then hit a first pitch offering from Bullock into center field to score both McClure and Esposito, tying the game up at 9-9.
"The turning point was the double by Casali and it injected energy into us," said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. "Bringing White (Jonathan) and McClure (Alex) into the game injected more energy into our team. McClure really uses his minutes well and he makes stuff happen. He hits, he walks, he scores. You bring White into the game and with the bases loaded he hits it right back down the middle."
The Dores then exploded for seven runs in the eighth with the key hits being a RBI single by Giobbi, a sacrifice fly RBI by Esposito and a three-run homer by Brian Harris that capped off the inning.
"I just wanted to have a good at-bat," said Harris of his homer. "Fortunately I was able to hit a good curveball and get it out. Hopefully we can look back on this and say this was a big turning point in our season. I hope we can bring this momentum into the upcoming week."
Sonny Gray, who picked up the save in Saturday's win, came on in the eighth and held the Gators in check for two innings, allowing just one hit, while striking out three to move to 2-0 on the year.
Billy Bullock (0-2) took the loss for the Gators, giving up four runs on two hits in 0.2 innings of work.
"Once we tied the game up, going back to the situation, we were down by seven and we won by seven," added Corbin. "We've been down in the sixth inning before and not won, but we've been building up to this moment. We were left for dead until the sixth and we came alive in the sixth, seventh and eighth."
Florida took a 2-0 lead in the second on a solo homer by Preston Tucker and a RBI single by Matt den Dekker.
VU took advantage of a Gator fielding error to plate a run in the bottom half to cut the lead to 2-1. Andrew Giobbi doubled to lead off the inning and looked to be stranded there as Aaron Westlake flied out and Jason Esposito struck out. Joe Loftus then hit a hard grounder that went under the legs of Josh Adams at short allowing Giobbi to score.
The Dores tied the game in the third when Steven Liddle doubled with two outs and then scored on a RBI double by Curt Casali.
The Gators plated three runs in the fifth to take a 5-2 lead. Dustin Pigott singled and Avery Barnes walked to lead off the inning off of reliever Sean Bierman. Josh Adams tried to bunt them over, but Bierman fielded it and threw Pigott out at third for the first out in the innings. Preston Tucker singled to left to score Barnes and also advanced to second on the throw from right to home. Russell Brewer came on and intentionally walked Buddy Monroe to load the bases and provide a force out at any base. Brandon McArthur flied out to right to bring in a run and Teddy Foster singled to left to score another to make it 5-2.
Florida added four more in the sixth to extend the lead to 9-2. Josh Adams had a RBI single and Preston Tucker capped things off with a three-run homer to right off of Nick Christiani.
The Commodores will play the next four games away from home starting with a Tuesday night game at Middle Tennessee at 6 p.m.. VU will then travel to No. 4 Arkansas for a three-game series next weekend.