Gainesville, Fla. – Kyle Wright dominated No. 1 Florida Saturday afternoon at McKethan Stadium to lead No. 11 Vanderbilt to a 5-0 series-tying victory.
Wright was stellar in his first career complete game; matching a career-best with 10 strikeouts while shutting out the top-ranked Gators (42-9, 17-8) for the first time this season. Florida never threatened Wright over nine innings with the sophomore not allowing a runner to reach second base and giving up only three singles and two walks to earn his seventh win of the year.
The Commodores (37-14, 15-11) grabbed an early lead in the second inning when freshman Julian Infante launched a mammoth home run out of the stadium to left field for a 1-0 lead. Handed the lead, Wright went to work on the Florida lineup. The right-hander breezed through the second allowing a two-out single before sitting the Gators down in order in the third. Another two-out single in the fourth snapped a streak of six straight retired but Wright finished off the frame with his fifth strikeout of the day. A perfect fifth inning was followed by a leadoff walk to nine-hole hitter Nick Horvath but Wright picked him off first base and then retired the next two batters to end the inning. A second leadoff walk started the Florida seventh but again Wright was up to the task, retiring the next three Gators in order to start another streak of six straight retired. Back out for the ninth inning for the first time in his career, Wright allowed a bunt single to Dalton Guthrie on the first pitch. The Huntsville, Ala. native, however, settled himself and got the next three batters to pop up to end the game.
The Vanderbilt offense blew the game open in the eighth inning, sending nine men to the plate to score three runs and push the lead to 5-0. Bryan Reynolds led off the inning with a single to right field and was followed by an Infante single. Will Toffey’s sacrifice bunt put the runners in scoring position but Jason Delay was intentionally walked to load the bases. Ethan Paul came up with the clutch hit against a drawn-in infield, sending a double down the first base line to score two runs. Fellow freshman Connor Kaiser followed with a chopper over the shortstop’s head for a single to score the third run of the inning and cap the rally.
Wright becomes the second Commodore to pitch a shutout this season, joining Jordan Sheffield, who blanked Kentucky on April 15. Infante and Delay led the way with two hits for the Dores with the bottom of the Vandy lineup combining for four RBI.
Florida starter AJ Puk took the loss allowing one run on three hits over six innings with 11 strikeouts.
The Commodores and Gators play the rubber-game of the series tomorrow afternoon at noon CT on SEC Network. Freshman Patrick Raby gets the nod for VU against Florida’s Alex Faedo.