KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Vanderbilt erased an early four-run deficit but could not replicate the magic late as Tennessee struck for three runs in the sixth to overtake the Commodores and salvage the series finale with an 8-7 win on Sunday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Vandy (27-24, 13-14 SEC) sent all nine batters to the plate, scoring six runs in the fourth inning, highlighted by a two-run home run from Pat DeMarco and two-run double from Austin Martin for a 6-4 lead but the bullpen could not hold the advantage.
Tennessee (28-25, 11-16 SEC) answered with a solo homer from Brodie Leftridge in the fifth before using an RBI-double from Jay Charleston and Andre Lipcius two-run single to pull ahead in the sixth. The Volunteers sent five batters to the plate in the sixth before the Dores could record an out.
The Commodores made things interesting in the ninth as Connor Kaiser and pinch-hitter Garrett Blaylock connected on consecutive one-out singles to put runners on the corners. Austin Martin drove a sacrifice fly into center, plating Kaiser to cut the margin to 8-7.
With Ethan Paul at the plate and two outs, Kiambu Fentress, who entered as a pinch runner for Blaylock, took second on a wild pitch before a line drive stranded the tying run at second.
Reliever Jackson Gillis (3-1) drew the loss after allowing four runs on three hits in two innings. The right-hander struck out two but was unable to settle things down after starter Mason Hickman permitted a career-high six walks alongside two hits and four runs in three innings.
JJ Bleday (3-for-4) matched a career high with three hits for the second time in as many days. Martin (1-for-4) produced a career-high three RBIs and Kaiser (2-for-4) scored two runs and drove in another to cap a series in which he batted .545 (6-for-11).
DeMarco (1-for-4) accounted for two RBIs on his sixth-career homer while scoring one. After tagging three home runs in the first two games of the series, Stephen Scott went 0-for-2, reaching base on a pair of hit by pitches while scoring one run.
The Volunteers totaled eight hits with two each from Charleston (2-for-4) and Andre Lipcius (2-for-3). Lipcius reached base four times including a pair of walks. Six different Tennessee batters accounted for at least one hit with Evan Russell (1-for-4) driving in two.
Vandy struck for six hits and as many runs in 4.1 innings against UT starter Will Neely but was unable to solve reliever Garrett Stallings (5-5), who scattered three hits while allowing one run with three strikeouts in 4.2 innings for the win.
Despite the matinee loss, the Commodores captured their first series victory in Knoxville since 2012, thanks to wins in the opening two games. The squad looks to secure another victory on Tuesday against Middle Tennessee with first pitch at 6:30 p.m. from Hawkins Field.