No. 5 Vandy Edges No. 17 Baseball to Win Series
March 30, 2014
NASHVILLE -- Fifth-ranked Vanderbilt used a two-run home run from John Norwood in the bottom of the fifth inning and got a great pitching performance from Tyler Ferguson to post a 6-2 win over No. 17 Kentucky in the rubber match of the series, on a perfect Sunday afternoon in front of 2,869 at Charles Hawkins Field.
Kentucky (19-9, 4-5 Southeastern Conference) and Vanderbilt battled in a series that marked the first time in UK history that the Wildcats have faced top-five teams in back-to-back weekends, with rankings dating back to 2003. Last weekend UK won a series vs. No. 1 South Carolina in Lexington, before traveling to No. 5 Vanderbilt for its third weekend of SEC play. After UK won the series opener on Friday in Nashville, 4-2, the Dores evened up the series with a 9-3 win on Saturday.
The Wildcats got the rubber match scoring started in the top of the third inning, before Norwood cranked a one-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth for a lead. Vanderbilt then got a leadoff double and an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning to take a 3-1 lead. UK rallied with a run in the top of the seventh to chase Ferguson but a three-base error and three hits for the Dores in the eighth inning stretched the lead to 6-2. The Dores used a combination of flame-throwing righties Adam Ravanelle and Carson Fulmer in relief to clinch the win.
UK starter Andrew Nelson (1-2) worked 5.2 innings, allowing five hits and three runs, walking three and striking out two. Nelson carried a one-hit shutout into the bottom of the fifth inning, before Norwood struck for the go-ahead homer.
Nelson was relieved an out shy of a quality start in the sixth inning by freshman lefty Logan Salow, who got an out to strand the runner. Salow worked an inning, allowing a walk and striking out one. Freshman righty Zack Brown came on with a runner on second and two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, getting one out. Sophomore Dylan Dwyer entered in a jam in the eighth inning with runners on the corners and no outs. Dwyer got two outs, allowing one hit and one unearned run. Spencer Jack came on to get the final out of the eighth.
UK was led offensively by a career-high 3-for-3 game from freshman JaVon Shelby, who added a double. UK got singles from Kyle Barrett, Austin Cousino, Max Kuhn and Micheal Thomas, with Ka’ai Tom singling twice.
Ferguson (5-0) worked over six innings, allowing six hits and two runs, not issuing a walk and striking out five. He was replaced with a runner on first and no outs by Ravennelle, who got out of the jam with three quick outs. Ravenelle worked 1.2 innings, allowing two hits and no runs, striking out one. Fulmer got the final four outs of the game, including stranding the game-tying run at third with two outs in the eighth, to pick up his eighth save of the year.
UK will return to action on Tuesday, hosting No. 10 Louisville for a 6 p.m. ET first pitch at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The game will be televised live on the UK IMG Network, with Dick Gabriel, Doug Flynn and Brian Milam calling the action. The game will also be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the game.
Kentucky got on the board first in the top of the third inning, starting with a one-out single from Shelby, who drilled a 94 mph fastball up the middle. Barrett followed with a single into left-centerfield, with Shelby taking third and Barrett called out on a bang-bang play at second base. With Cousino at the plate, Ferguson tried to pickoff Shelby at third base, with the throw going down the leftfield line to allow Shelby to score the first run of the game. Cousino then singled to leftfield to make the run earned and after a stolen base was left stranded at second base.
Vanderbilt (23-6, 5-4 SEC) took the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning, as Jason Delay singled to rightfield with one out. John Norwood then drilled the first pitch of the at-bat over the left-centerfield fence for his first homer of the year and a 2-1 VU lead.
Vanderbilt added to its lead in the bottom of the sixth inning as Dansby Swanson cranked a double off the 40-foot wall in leftfield, taking third on a productive groundout to the right side. With the infield in and one out, Vince Conde drilled a RBI single to leftfield to score Swanson.
The Wildcats got a run back in the top of the seventh inning as Thomas led off with a single to centerfield. After a throwing error on a pickoff attempt moved Thomas to second base, Tom singled down the rightfield line to score Thomas and cut the lead to 3-2. Wilson then laid down a bunt, with Ravenelle attempting to go to second to get the lead runner on a bang-bang play that prompted an argument from UK head coach Gary Henderson. Reida then hit into an inning-ending double play.
UK had its best chance to even up the game in the top of the eighth inning as UK got singles from Shelby and Kuhn off Ravenelle with two outs. That brought up A.J. Reed – the SEC leader in RBI – to the plate to face Fulmer, who dropped two breaking balls in for strikes, before painting the inside corner with a 95 mph fastball.
Vanderbilt mounted a rally in the bottom of the eighth inning, as the speedy Swanson singled on a ball chopped off the plate, with Kuhn appearing to have to call a fair catch to wait on the ball to come into his glove. Bryan Reynolds then faked a sacrifice bunt, before slashing a ball up the middle with the UK defense crashing on the bunt, allowing Swanson to take third base with no outs. UK turned to Dwyer, who allowed a single off the diving glove of Tom in leftfield. Zander Wiel then laid down a sacrifice bunt, with UK’s throw going into rightfield for a three-base error, allowing two more runs to score.