NASHVILLE, Tenn. - No. 1 Vanderbilt outslugged Alabama 14-10 Saturday afternoon at Hawkins Field to set the all-time Southeastern Conference wins record with the Commodores' 26th league win.
The Commodores (48-7, 26-3) jumped out to a commanding lead in the second inning sending 11 men to the plate to score seven runs on two hits and five walks. Alabama starter Taylor Guilbeau opened the inning with four straight walks to force in a run and tie the game 1-1. Guilbeau's fourth walk was his last as the Crimson Tide (32-24, 14-15) went to the bullpen for lefty Jon Keller. The southpaw was greeted by a two-run double off the bat of Vince Conde to put the Dores in front. Tony Kemp and Mike Yastrzemski added RBI-singles to go along with sacrifice flies from John Norwood and Connor Harrell before the Tide could get out of the inning.
The Crimson Tide, however, did not go quietly on the last day of the regular season. Alabama answered with five runs in the fourth inning to cut the Vandy lead to one run and chase starter Tyler Beede. The right-hander was tagged for five runs on five hits and one walk in the fifth before handing the ball off to Steven Rice. Rice needed just one pitch to end the inning and preserve the Dores' one-run lead. The lefty then silenced the Alabama bats in the fifth and sixth inning allowing only a pair of singles.
The Commodores' offense reemerged in the sixth to score five more runs and seemingly put the game away. Command issues again plagued the Tide as Yastrzemski and Connor Harrell where each hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in the first two runs of the inning. With the bases still full of Commodores, Conrad Gregor ripped a double into the right-center field gap to clear the bases and push the VU lead back to six runs.
Alabama tried to climb back in the game in the seventh on Chance Vincent's three-run triple but the Commodores put two more runs on the scoreboard in the eighth thanks to a Zander Wiel double off the left field wall to put the game away.
Eight Commodores had at least one hit on the day with Tony Kemp registering his seventh straight multi-hit game. Kemp wrapped up the league batting title on Saturday, finishing the regular season hitting .408. Yastrzemski, Harrell, Gregor and Wiel combined for nine RBI and six runs scored in the middle of the VU lineup. Brett Booth paced Alabama's 14-hit attack with four hits and Mikey White scored three runs in the loss.
Rice (4-0) picked up his fourth win of the season with 2.1 scoreless innings of relief. The lefty is 2-0 in his last two outings and has not allowed a run in his last seven innings. Beede failed to win his start for the first time this season, as the sophomore was touched for six runs on eight hits over 3.2 innings. T.J. Pecoraro worked the final three innings to notch his first save of the season. Guilbeau (4-2) took the loss for the Tide giving up four runs on no hits and four walks in one-plus inning. Alabama used five relief pitchers on the afternoon with the bullpen giving up 10 runs on nine hits and five walks.
Vanderbilt's 26 SEC wins set the conference record, breaking South Carolina's record of 25 set in 2000. The Dores have now won 18 straight series dating back to last season, including all 14 this year. The Commodores wrap up the regular season a school record 48-7 and will be the No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament. Vandy will play on Wednesday against the winner of Florida/Texas A&M. First pitch is set for 4:30 p.m. on CSS.