Lexington, Ky. - No. 2 Vanderbilt clinched the Southeastern Conference title with a 10-5 win over Kentucky Sunday afternoon to finish off a series sweep at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
The Commodores (45-6, 24-2) scored in six of the nine innings and used an outstanding relief outing from Steven Rice to finish off the team's ninth series sweep and seventh in conference play. Rice entered the game in the fifth inning after Wildcats' (28-22, 10-17) first baseman A.J. Reed had just tied the game on a solo homer. Rice quickly got the next two outs to end the inning and get the Dores back up to the plate. The offense wasted no time with a response as Conrad Gregor lifted a two-run shot over the right-center field fence to put the Commodores back up for good.
All weekend the Vandy offense came through with two-out RBI and Sunday was no different. The Dores came up with four two-out RBI on Sunday to bring the weekend total to 11. Spencer Navin drove in the first two-out RBI in the fourth to cap a three-run rally. Xavier Turner added to the lead in the seventh when Tony Kemp doubled off the left field wall with two outs and scored on Turner's single to left. Two more two-out RBI in the eighth sealed the victory. Back-to-back singles from Navin and Jack Lupo gave the Dores a five-run cushion going to the ninth.
Back out for the ninth, Rice hit Max Kuhn to open the inning. The junior, however, quickly recovered with a strikeout and a fly out to bring up Kentucky leadoff hitter Kyle Barrett. Rice finished off his career-long outing when Barrett bounced to Kemp, who fielded and flipped to Vince Conde covering second to end the game and give the Commodores the school's third regular season championship under head coach Tim Corbin.
Vanderbilt pounded out 13 hits in the win led by Navin's three-hit day, his second of the season. The junior backstop doubled and scored in his first at-bat and added two RBI-singles on the afternoon. Gregor scored three runs and Kemp continued to swing a hot bat with two more hits on Sunday. The Dores' second baseman ended the weekend. 8-for-14. Turner and Yastrzemski each added two hits and Jack Lupo extended his hitting streak to 12 games with his RBI-single in his final at-bat. Austin Cousino led Kentucky with three hits.
Kentucky starter Corey Littrell (5-5) took the loss for the Cats allowing eight runs, seven earned, on eight hits over 6.2 innings.
The win is the 12th straight for the Commodores marking the third time this season the Dores have won at least 12 straight games. The Vandy offense collected 41 hits over the weekend and is now hitting a league-best .319 on the season. The regular season championship is the third for head coach Tim Corbin joining the 2007 and 2011 teams. The championship is the first outright league title since 2007 for Vanderbilt. The victory leaves Vandy one win shy of South Carolina's SEC record of 25 league wins.
The Commodores return home for the final week of the season hosting crosstown rival Belmont on Tuesday before welcoming Alabama for a three-game series starting on Thursday.