Gainesville, Fla. – No. 11 Vanderbilt let a late lead slip away on Friday night at No. 1 Florida, dropping the series opener 4-2 at McKethan Stadium.
The Commodores (36-14, 14-11) took the lead in the fifth inning by scratching out a pair of runs against Gators’ (42-8, 17-7) ace Logan Shore. Freshman Julian Infante led off the inning with a single to third and advanced to second on a throwing error by Jonathan India. Will Toffey’s flare single fell into shallow right field to put Commodores on the corners with no outs. Jason Delay came up with the hit to tie the game, executing a hit-and-run with a single through the right side to score Infante and send Toffey to third. Freshman Connor Kaiser delivered the lead with a two-out, RBI-double to right-center.
Back out with the lead for the first time, Vandy starter Jordan Sheffield worked a quick bottom of the fifth and used an inning-ending double play to get out of the sixth inning. Sheffield, however, found trouble in the seventh by hitting leadoff hitter Peter Alonso on the hand and allowing a Buddy Reed single to put the tying run on third base with no outs. Sheffield then hung a pitch to Deacon Liput, who belted a double off the right field wall to tie the game. The Commodores had Reed hung up on the play between third and home but botched the run down to allow Reed to score the go-ahead run. Nelson Maldonado padded the Florida lead with a RBI-single to score Liput and make it 4-2 Gators.
Vanderbilt failed to get a base runner over the final three innings against Shore, who earned his 10th win of the year with a complete game. Sheffield took the loss, allowing four runs on five hits over seven innings. The right-hander’s streak of not allowing an earned run was snapped at 32 when the Gators scored a run in the second inning.
Infante and Toffey led the Commodores with two hits apiece. The two-hit game is Toffey’s second in his last five. The loss is the first for Vanderbilt this season when leading after six innings.
The Commodores and Gators play tomorrow at 3 p.m. CT on ESPN2. Kyle Wright gets the ball for the Dores against Gators’ lefty AJ Puk.