Nashville, Tenn. – No. 8 Vanderbilt used three late runs to hold off Austin Peay Tuesday afternoon at Hawkins Field for an 8-5 win.
The Commodores (31-10) jumped out to a 5-1 lead after three innings but the Governors (25-14) battled back to tie the game with four runs in the seventh inning with Chase Hamilton’s three-run homer off reliever Evan Steele bringing the Govs even. Matt Ruppenthal, however, finished off the inning without further damage to setup the Dores’ rally in the bottom of the inning.
Bryan Reynolds worked a leadoff walk and moved into scoring position on a passed ball before racing to third on Julian Infante’s foul out to right field. Will Toffey then punched a single through the middle of a drawn-in Govs’ infield to put the Commodores back in front for good. Back-to-back doubles by Jeren Kendall and Ethan Paul added insurance runs in the eighth inning.
Freshman Donny Everett made his first career start as part of six Vanderbilt freshmen in the starting lineup on Tuesday. The right-hander was greeted rudely by Austin Peay leadoff hitter Garrett Copeland, who lined a home run into the first row of the right field bleachers on the game’s second pitch. Everett rebounded quickly and efficiently, sitting down the next 11 straight Govs before a two-out single snapped the string in the fourth. In his first start, Everett allowed one run on two hits with no walks and two strikeouts over four innings of a no decision.
Vanderbilt took the lead in the second inning with three runs crossing the plate. A one-out double from Alonzo Jones started the rally before fellow freshman Connor Kaiser put Vandy in front with a two-run double scoring Jones and freshman Walker Grisanti, who walked. Kendall’s single to center field capped the three-run rally scoring Kaiser. Freshman Julian Infante made it 5-1 in the third when he belted his second home run of the year, sending a two-run shot out to center field.
The Commodores’ 15 hits in the win on Tuesday are the team’s most since registering 17 in a victory at Missouri on March 27. Nine different Commodores contributed hits led by three-hit games from Kendall and Jones. Paul and Reynolds each added two hits while Infante and Kaiser drove in two runs apiece. The five freshmen in the batting order combined for seven hits and five RBI.
Ruppenthal earned the win out of the pen with two no-hit innings. Ben Bowden nailed down his ninth save of the season working around a walk and a double to put up a zero in the ninth.
Zach Neff took the loss for the Governors allowing one unearned run on three hits over 2.1 innings of relief. Starter John Sparks gave up five runs on eight hits over his four innings.
Vanderbilt returns to conference play this weekend with Georgia visiting Hawkins Field. The Commodores and Bulldogs begin the three-game series Friday night at 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network+.