Vanderbilt closes regular season with sweep of Auburn
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Vanderbilt concluded the regular season by registering its third Southeastern Conference sweep of the year with a 4-3 win over Auburn Saturday afternoon at Hawkins Field.
The No. 12 Commodores (41-15, 18-12) used another solid pitching performance from sophomore righty Kyle Wright and timely hitting to overcome the Tigers. It marked Vanderbilt's fourth straight victory and upped the team's record in Hawkins Field to 31-5.
Vanderbilt opens play in the SEC Tournament on Tuesday in Hoover, Ala. The Commodores will face Missouri at 9:30 a.m. The loss eliminated Auburn (23-33, 8-22) from the SEC tourney.
Wright notched his eighth win of the year. He posted nine strikeouts, scattered five hits and allowed two earned runs in a six-inning stint. He has now won four straight outings, all coming against SEC teams.
Vandy junior pitcher Ben Bowden earned a team-leading 10th save. Bowden worked out of a bases-loaded situation in the eighth inning, and got the Tigers in order in the ninth to complete the win.
Junior center fielder Bryan Reynolds had two hits and a pair of runs scored to pace the Vanderbilt hitting attack. Designated hitter Liam Sabino, third baseman Will Toffey, shortstop Connor Kaiser and second baseman Alonzo Jones contributed runs batted in.
The Commodores took their first lead in the fourth inning, tallying three runs on singles by Reynolds, Jones, Sabino and Kaiser. Reynolds scored the initial run on Sabino's single. After Jones scored on a groundout by Toffey, Sabino came across with the third run on Kaiser's single between shortstop and third base.
Vanderbilt pushed its lead to 4-2 in the sixth inning when Reynolds led off with a triple, his third of the season. He scored on a sacrifice fly to deep center field by Alonzo Jones.
Vanderbilt survived an explosive hitting display from Auburn's Anfernee Grier. The junior center fielder homered twice off Wright, including a massive shot in the fifth inning that cleared the scoreboard.
Grier's first home run gave Auburn a 1-0 lead in the third inning. The frame could have been more productive for the Tigers if not for a critical base-running mistake by Melvin Gray. The second baseman appeared to score easily on Jordan Ebert's single later in the frame, but was ruled out by umpire Perry Costello when he agreed with Vanderbilt's appeal that Gray failed to touch third base.
In the eighth inning, Auburn closed the Commodores lead to 4-3 on singles by Kyler Deese, Damon Haecker and Cody Nulph. Ben Bowden, who relieved Collin Snider in the inning, worked out of a bases-loaded jam by getting Gray to ground out at third to Toffey.
Auburn also threatened in the seventh, getting runners on first and third before Snider fanned Niko Buentello for the third out.
Auburn freshman starter Casey Mize (2-5) took the loss, giving up four runs on seven hits in six innings. He struck out seven Commodore batters.