No. 16 Vanderbilt’s offense evens series vs. Auburn

42 minutes ago
Vanderbilt Athletics

Photo: Vanderbilt Athletics

AUBURN, Ala. – The Vanderbilt baseball team used a stellar offensive effort to cruise to a 19-4 against Auburn on Saturday afternoon at Plainsman Park. With the win, the Commodores improve to 22-8 on the season, including a 5-6 mark in Southeastern Conference play.

After Auburn jumped out to an early one-run lead in the first inning, Vanderbilt erupted for nine in the fourth to gain momentum. The Commodores went on to score four runs across the next three innings to seize control and put the game out of reach.

The Vanderbilt offense registered a season-high 23 hits on Saturday, with 14 of those going for extra bases. The Commodores were paced by the heart of their lineup, with the 3-4-5 hitters combining for 12 hits and eight RBI. Three-hole hitter Spencer Jones went 3-for-4 with three RBI, while cleanup man Dominic Keegan posted a 4-for-5 outing with three RBI, as well. Five-hole hitter Jack Bulger registered Vandy’s first five-hit game of the season with a perfect 5-for-5 with two RBI.

Carter Holton made the start for Vanderbilt on the mound. The freshman southpaw lasted 4.1 innings, allowing three earned runs on seven hits, while walking two and striking out a pair. Holton was relieved by fellow freshman Bryce Cunningham (1-0), who picked up the first win of his collegiate career.

Cunningham worked 3.2 hitless innings, yielding one unearned run on two walks. He retired a span of 10 batters in a row before issuing his first walk in the bottom of the eighth.

Sophomore left-hander Brett Hansen covered the ninth for Vandy to close things out.

Auburn struck first in Saturday’s matchup plating one run in the first. A solo home run on a first-pitch fastball gave the Tigers the first run of the contest to put them up 1-0 after one inning of action.

Vanderbilt broke into the scoring column in the fourth inning with nine runs on eight hits to take a 9-1 lead. Jones sent the first pitch of the inning over the batter’s eye in center field for a solo shot to tie the game. The homer marked his sixth on the season. Keegan followed with a double off the wall in left field before Bulger reached on a single through the left side to place runners on the corners.

In the very next at-bat, Javier Vaz connected on the first pitch with a deep drive to right field for a three-run homer to put Vandy in front, 4-1. The Commodores went on to score five more in the frame with RBI doubles from the trio of Jones, Keegan and Bulger as Vanderbilt batted around.

Auburn added two in the home half to trim the Vandy lead. The Tigers used a leadoff single followed by a two-run homer to left center to make it a 9-3 contest after four full.

Vanderbilt got one run back in the top of the fifth, as Parker Noland began the scoring sequence with a two-out double to right center. Enrique Bradfield Jr. followed with a double off the left field wall to plate Noland and push the Commodore lead to 10-3.

The Commodores added two in the sixth, as the inning began with back-to-back singles from Jones and Keegan to place runners on first and second. Bulger collected his fourth hit on the day in the next at-bat with an RBI double to right center to score Jones. Jonathan Vastine plated the second run of the frame with a sacrifice fly to left field to push the Vanderbilt lead to 12-3.

Vandy tacked on a single tally in the seventh, as Keegan picked up his third RBI on the game with an RBI double off the wall in right center to score Jones and make it a 13-3 ballgame.

Auburn scored one in the eighth, but Vanderbilt answered back with six runs in the top of the ninth for insurance. Troy LaNeve connected on a pinch-hit homer with a three-run shot to right field, before Noland recorded a three-run homer of his own to cap the inning’s scoring and set the score at 19-4, the eventual final.

The two teams will return to the diamond tomorrow afternoon for the series finale. First pitch is set for 1 p.m., with action airing live on SEC Network+.

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