Nashville, Tenn. – No. 5 Vanderbilt rallied for four runs in the fourth inning to take down Middle Tennessee 7-4 on Tuesday night at Hawkins Field.
The Commodores (26-7) fell behind early with the Blue Raiders (14-19) scratching out a pair of two-out runs in the first inning. The home team, however, rallied to tie the game in the third before moving in front for good with a four-run fourth inning, sending nine men to the dish. Connor Kaiser ignited the rally with a single and started a streak of five straight singles to score three runs. Singles from Ro Coleman and Jeren Kendall loaded the bases before Bryan Reynolds’ single broke up a 2-2 game scoring two runs. Ethan Paul’s second hit of the night, a single, scored Kendall for the third run of the inning before Will Toffey’s groundout capped the rally with Reynolds coming home.
The Blue Raiders moved closer in the sixth cutting the VU lead to two runs but Matt Ruppenthal and John Kilichowski closed out the win, combining for six strikeouts over three scoreless innings. Kilichowski struck out the side in the ninth to record his first save of the season.
Freshmen Donny Everett and Julian Infante each made their collegiate debuts in the win. Everett entered in the fifth inning and after allowing a leadoff double retired the next three batters in order to turn in a scoreless inning. Infante pinch hit in seventh inning, sending a line drive into center field for his first career hit. Both freshmen had been sidelined with injuries.
Eight different Commodores recorded hits in the win led by Paul’s three-hit night in his first career start at first base. The freshman tripled in a run in the first inning, singled in a run in the fourth before adding a single in the eighth inning to wrap up his night and equal a career-high. Kendall and Reynolds each recorded two hits with Reynolds scoring two runs and driving in two more. Kaiser matched a career-best with two hits while scoring two runs in his second straight start at shortstop.
Vanderbilt starter Ryan Johnson earned the win allowing two runs on five hits over four innings. The lefty improved to 4-0 on the season in his first start of the year.
Aaron Aucker paced the Middle Tennessee offense with three hits, two runs and two RBI in the loss. Andy Wright was pinned with the loss out of the bullpen allowing four runs on five hits while recording one out.
The Commodores return to action Friday night at Hawkins Field against No. 18 Kentucky at 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network+.