Vandy comes back to take series against MS State
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Vanderbilt baseball team completed the comeback to defeat fourth-ranked Mississippi State, 7-4, on Sunday afternoon at Hawkins Field. With the win, the Commodores take the series and improve to 31-7 on the season, including a 13-5 in Southeastern Conference play.
Mississippi State carried a 4-0 lead into the fourth inning, before the Vanderbilt offense came alive across the middle frames. The Commodores rallied for seven runs across the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to seize momentum en route to capturing its second consecutive weekend series against a top-five opponent.
After an early exit from starter Patrick Reilly, Chris McElvain provided Vanderbilt with a stellar outing out of the bullpen to pick up his third win of the season and improve to 3-0. McElvain worked a career-long 5.2 innings of one-run baseball, allowing five hits and two walks while picking up four strikeouts.
Nick Maldonado earned his third save of the season, covering the final 3.1 innings. Maldonado held the Bulldogs hitless across the span, while striking out four batters in the effort.
For a third consecutive day, Mississippi State scored in the first inning to grab an early lead. The leadoff man reached on a walk before advancing to third on a failed pickoff move. After another walk placed runners on the corners, an RBI double to left scored the first run of the day to put the Bulldogs into the scoring column.
Mississippi State plated two more in the frame on a two-run single to left field to move ahead, 3-0, after a half inning of play.
The Bulldogs returned to the dish to add one more in the second on a solo home run, pushing their lead to 4-0.
Vanderbilt began to cut into the deficit with two runs in the fourth. Carter Young began the frame with a leadoff triple to center field before coming across to score on an RBI groundout from Dominic Keegan.
Jack Bulger followed up by reaching on a throwing error by the Bulldog third baseman and advancing to second. One batter later, CJ Rodriguez lined a single to right field to score Bulger and make it a 4-2 contest after four full.
The Commodores returned to the plate to put up a three-spot in the fifth and take the lead. Jayson Gonzalez reached on a one-out single before Enrique Bradfield Jr. drew a four-pitch walk to place runners on first and second. One batter later, Young connected on his 10th homer of the season with a three-run shot to right field to place Vanderbilt in front, 5-4.
The Vandy offense stayed hot with another two-run frame in the sixth to extend the gap. Parker Noland drew a leadoff walk to begin the inning before Isaiah Thomas reached on a fielder's choice to place runners on first and second.
After Cooper Davis advanced both runners 90 feet with a sacrifice bunt, Bradfield drove home a pair with a two-run single to left field to push Vanderbilt's lead to 7-4, the eventual final.
Young and Gonzalez led the Commodore offense, each contributing two hits apiece. Young added a team-high three RBI and two runs scored, while Bradfield finished with two RBI.
Vanderbilt will take the upcoming week off before returning to action next weekend for its fourth road conference series of the season. The Commodores will travel to Gainesville for a top-15 matchup with the Florida Gators. The two teams are set for a 6 p.m. CT first pitch in Friday's series opener.