KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (VUAD)– Vanderbilt silenced Tennessee during the middle innings and tacked on a trio of insurance runs late to defeat the Volunteers, 7-2, and clinch the series on Saturday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
The Commodores (27-23, 13-13 SEC) fell behind two runs after the first inning before tying things up on a two-run single from Pat DeMarco in the third. Harrison Ray put Vanderbilt ahead on an RBI-groundout.
Stephen Scott, who had two home runs in Vanderbilt’s series-opening win Friday, clubbed his third of the series on a 3-1 pitch with the bases empty in the sixth to push Vanderbilt’s advantage to 4-2. Scott now owns the team lead with nine home runs.
Starter Patrick Raby settled down after allowing the two runs and six hits over the opening two frames. The Knoxville native retired 12 of his final 14 batters faced without allowing a hit. Raby registered his 200th career strikeout to cap a 1-2-3 sixth inning.
The Volunteers (27-25, 10-16 SEC) were held without a hit over five-consecutive innings before Justin Ammons opened the eighth with a leadoff double. Pete Derkay walked but reliever Zach King retired three straight Tennessee batters, including stranding the pair on a swing-and-miss strikeout.
The Commodores registered double-digit hits for a third-straight game, upping their season total to 13 with four in the ninth. Bleday got the scoring started with a two-out, two-run triple into the right field corner and Ray drove him in with a double down the left field line.
Raby (4-5) offered up his 16th quality start since the start of the 2017 season, striking out four in six innings to secure the win. King limited the Vols to a hit and walk with three punch outs in two innings before Tyler Brown permitted a hit and walk with a strikeout as part of a scoreless ninth.
Eight Commodores logged at least one hit including Bleday who went 3-for-5 while extending his reached-base streak to 16 games. The sophomore drove in two and scored another. The 5-6-7 combination of DeMarco, Bleday and Ray finished 6-for-14 with five RBIs and three runs scored.
Tennessee starter Sean Hunley (6-3), who entered the game fifth in the SEC with a 2.76 ERA, was taxed for eight hits and four runs with a walk and four strikeouts in six innings. Relievers Chase Wallace and Garrett Crochet could not slow the Dores’ output, giving up a combined six hits and three runs in the final three innings.
Leadoff batter Jay Charleston and two-hole Justin Ammons contributed five of the Vols’ eight hits while scoring two runs. The bottom seven in the order finished just 3-for-23.
Vandy eyes the series sweep on Sunday with first pitch set for 11 a.m. CT on the SEC Network. The Black and Gold send right-hander Mason Hickman (7-2, 4.13 ERA) to the mound against Tennessee righty Will Neely (4-1, 3.56 ERA).
Fans can also listen to the game through the vucommodores app as well as locally on WNSR 560 AM/95.9 FM with Joe Fisher on the call. Pre-game coverage begins 15 minutes prior to first pitch.