Knoxville, Tenn. - Vanderbilt held off a Tennessee rally in the ninth inning to even the series with a 7-4 win Saturday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
The Commodores (22-24, 10-13) cruised into the ninth inning with a 7-2 lead but reliever Drew VerHagen immediately found trouble in his fifth inning of work. Tennessee's (23-23, 8-15) Will Maddox led off the inning with a solo home run to right field. A Drew Steckenrider RBI-single chased VerHagen and brought in Will Clinard. The right-hander quickly put an end to the rally, retiring the Volunteers in order to earn his first save of the season and set up a rubber game tomorrow.
Vandy jumped on the Vols in the first inning for two runs when Conrad Gregor singled to score Tony Kemp. Mike Yastrzemski's heady base running allowed him to score when the throw in from left field on Gregor's single got away from third baseman Chris Pierce. Tennessee drew even in the third when a delayed steal scored the runner from third base. Gregor's RBI-double in the fifth put VU in the lead for good before the team tacked on three more runs in the sixth. Jack Lupo's two-run double gave the Dores some insurance and Kemp's RBI-groundout capped the rally. Connor Harrell added a mammoth solo home run to right field in the eighth.
Harrell and Gregor led the way for the Commodores with three hits each while Castellano added two hits. Steckenrider led Tennessee for the second straight day with three hits.
Steven Rice (1-0) earned the win in relief for the Dores working 1.1 scoreless innings for his first career victory. VerHagen turned in four-plus solid innings out of the bullpen entering the game in a bases loaded, no out situation in the fifth and getting out of the jam with a double play and strikeout. UT starter Robbie Kidd (2-3) took the loss giving up three runs on seven hits over 4.2 innings. Vandy starter Tyler Beede allowed two runs, one earned, on three hits and three walks in 2.2 innings.
The Commodores and Volunteers will decide the series tomorrow with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m. CT. Vanderbilt sends lefty Kevin Ziomek (2-6) to the mound against fellow lefty Dalton Saberhagen (4-1).