NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Vanderbilt baseball team held on for a 6-4 victory over Eastern Kentucky on Tuesday evening at Hawkins Field. With the win, the Commodores improve to 26-5 on the season and claim their 24th consecutive midweek win - a streak that dates to March 2019.
The two teams traded runs across the first few innings, resulting in a 2-2 ballgame after four frames of action. Vanderbilt seized control with four runs in the fifth, before Eastern Kentucky closed the gap in the final two innings.
The Colonels plated one run in both the eighth and ninth, while bringing the go-ahead run to the plate in the ninth. Closer Luke Murphy would thwart the Eastern Kentucky threat, stranding the tying run at second to pick up his team-leading seventh save of the season.
Starter Thomas Schultz (3-2) provided the Commodores with a strong outing to pick up his third win of the campaign. The right-hander worked a career-long 6.0 innings, allowing two earned runs on four hits, while striking out seven batters to notch the quality start.
The freshman trio of Christian Little, Hunter Owen and Donye Evans each saw action out of the bullpen. Little and Owen worked one inning apiece, while Evans began the ninth before the Commodores called on Murphy to record the final two outs.
Eastern Kentucky began the night's scoring with one run in the first. The inning began with a hit-by-pitch, before a hit-and-run in the next at-bat placed runners on first and third with nobody out. A double-play ball scored the game's first run, placing the Colonels in front, 1-0.
Vanderbilt tied things in the second with one run of its own. CJ Rodriguez led off the frame with a single before advancing into scoring position on a wild pitch. Two batters later, Isaiah Thomas registered his fifth triple of the season with a ball to right center to bring one across and knot the score at one apiece.
The Commodores returned to the dish to add another run in the third to take the lead. Carter Young began the scoring sequence with a one-out double down the right field line. Dominic Keegan followed with a RBI single through the left side to score Young and put Vanderbilt in front, 2-1.
Eastern Kentucky answered back with one in the fourth, using a leadoff solo home run to tie things at 2-2.
Vanderbilt pulled away with a four-run frame in the fifth to retake the lead. The inning began with a pair of singles and a fielder's choice, resulting in runners on first and second with one down. One batter later, Parker Noland delivered his fourth home run of the season with a three-run shot to put the Commodores ahead.
Maxwell Romero Jr. kept things going, reaching on a two-out bunt single to beat the Eastern Kentucky defensive shift. Jayson Gonzalez followed with an RBI double off the left field wall to score Romero and make it a 6-2 contest after five full.
Eastern Kentucky made things interesting in the eighth and ninth, scoring one run in each inning to trim the Vanderbilt lead. The Colonels brought the go-ahead run to the plate with runners on second and third, but a flyout would go as the final out as the Commodores claimed the 6-4 win.
Rodriguez highlighted the Vanderbilt offense with a perfect 4-for-4 night, scoring a team-high two runs. The duo of Keegan and Romero each contributed multi-hit outings with two apiece, while Noland drove in a team-high three RBI.
Vanderbilt will hit the road this weekend, as the team returns to action on Friday evening for the series opener at Tennessee. The two squads are set for a 6 p.m. CT first pitch, airing live on ESPNU.