Late-Inning Rallies Lift No. 6 Vanderbilt to Opener
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The sixth-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores broke open a tie with five two-out runs in the seventh inning, adding five more runs in the eighth to back a strong start from All-America flamethrower Carson Fulmer, posting a 13-3 series-opening win over Kentucky, on a perfect Friday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (25-19, 10-11 Southeastern Conference) suffered the loss in the series opener as Vanderbilt used single runs in the first, second and fourth innings, before exploding for five-run frames in the seventh and eighth. UK rallied with two runs in the second and a game-tying tally in the third before the Dores loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh. Ro Coleman delivered the decisive blow, ripping a bases-clearing double with two outs and two strikes. Rhett Wiseman then stretched the lead to 8-3 with a two-run homer off the batter's eye in centerfield, his second homer of the game.
Vanderbilt then plated five more runs in the eighth inning for the final margin, scoring 10 unanswered over the seventh and eighth innings.
UK sophomore starter Zack Brown (4-5) suffered the hard luck loss, allowing the early damage to open the game, before fighting his way back into a tie game entering the seventh. Brown, a native of Seymour, Ind., worked seven innings and was on the verge of a strong start before allowing the five decisive runs in the seventh inning with two outs and putting two hitters on to open the eighth. Brown worked seven innings, allowing 11 hits and 10 runs, walking one and striking out four.
In relief of Brown, UK turned to freshman lefty Brad Schaenzer with two runners on in the eighth and no outs, to keep the bullpen fresh for the remainder of the weekend in a five-run game. Schaenzer allowed two hits, one walk and hit a batter, allowing three runs. Righty Bo Wilson came on to get the final out in the eighth and worked around two walks in a shutout ninth.
A consensus preseason All-America selection, Fulmer (9-1) cruised into the seventh inning, exiting with a five-run lead. Fulmer tossed 6.2 innings, allowing eight hits and three runs, issuing three walks and striking out six. Freshman righty Kyle Wright took over with two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh inning, getting a strikeout to escape the jam. Collin Snider and switch pitcher Aubrey McCarty also worked in relief.
The Commodores improved to 11-1 in Fulmer's starts in 2015.
The Wildcats collected seven hits in the game, led by the sixth home run of the year from JaVon Shelby. UK also got an RBI knock each from Dorian Hairston and Thomas Bernal, with Marcus Carson and Ka'ai Tom each charting singles. Catcher Zach Arnold notched a pair of singles.
The series will resume on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Vanderbilt (34-13, 16-6 SEC) opened the game with a run in the top of the first as Wiseman connected on a 2-2 offering from Brown, sending it over the centerfield fence for his 10th homer of the year.
The Dores stretched their lead in the top of the second, as Will Toffey ripped a double into the right-centerfield gap, taking third on a sacrifice bunt and scoring on Karl Ellison's RBI groundout up the middle.
Kentucky answered in the bottom of the second, as Shelby led off with his sixth home run of the year over the leftfield fence. Hairston then drew a walk, taking second on Carson's first career sacrifice bunt. Bernal then delivered a double off the base of the wall in leftfield, his eighth double of the year, scoring Hairston to even the game at 2-2.
UK took the lead in the bottom of the third inning, as Tom reached on a one-out single through the right side, taking second after Shelby drew a walk. Hairston then worked the count full before fighting off a single up the middle with the runners in motion, scoring Tom and giving UK a 3-2 lead.
Vanderbilt tied the game in the top of the fourth, as Toffey belted his third homer of the year, bouncing it off the top of the fence in left-centerfield.
The Dores led off the seventh inning with a double, painted down the line by Bryan Reynolds. Toffey then singled up the middle to push Reynolds to third base with no outs. Jeren Kendall was then hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs for Ellison. After a mound visit, Brown induced three swings for the first out from Ellison, forcing Tyler Campbell to the plate. Campbell worked the count to 3-1 before ripping a liner at Storm Wilson in rightfield, who fired a one-hop strike to the plate to hold the runners. Coleman than lined a 3-2 pitch into the left-centerfield gap, clearing the bases and giving VU a three-run lead. Wiseman then ripped a no-doubt homer, his second of the game and 11th of the year, into the batter's eye in centerfield for a five-run lead.
Vanderbilt plated five runs on four hits in the eighth inning for the final margin.