NASHVILLE – Vanderbilt overcame a three-run deficit, scoring six times in the seventh inning to blast past No. 19 Kentucky, 9-6 in the regular-season finale and secure the three-game sweep on Saturday afternoon at Hawkins Field.
The Commodores (31-24, 16-14 SEC) sent all nine batters to the plate in the seventh, taking the lead on a two-run single from Philip Clarke before adding an explanation point on Stephen Scott’s mammoth two-run home run.
Vandy enters next week’s league tournament as the six-seed and will square off against 11-seed Texas A&M in Tuesday’s single-elimination opener. First pitch is slated for 9:30 a.m. CT on the SEC Network. The winner will face three-seed Georgia on Wednesdayat 9:30 a.m. CT.
Kentucky (34-21, 13-17 SEC) struck back-to-back home runs, highlighting a four-run sixth to jump ahead, 6-3. Kole Cottom put the Wildcats in front with a two-run homer and Luke Becker lined a solo homer into the right field bleachers in the frame.
The Dores put a run across in the first as a pair of walks and a hit-by-pitch led to a bases-loaded balk. Two innings later, Pat DeMarco socked a two-run homer over The Monster, putting Vandy in front with his second long ball of the series.
Vandy put the first two on in the seventh as Jayson Gonzalez (0-for-3) worked a walk and Austin Martin (2-for-3) laced a double into left field. DeMarco (1-for-3) brought home Gonzalez on a sacrifice fly and two batters later, Martin scored on an errant pickoff attempt, trimming the deficit to one.
Connor Kaiser (1-for-4) swatted a double to put two in scoring position with one out and Clarke (1-for-2) drove in both runners to give the Commodores the lead. Scott (1-for-4) tacked on the final runs, belting his sixth home run in the last seven games.
Vandy starter Mason Hickman settled down after allowing two runs in the first before running into trouble in the sixth. The freshman allowed six hits and as many runs while striking out seven and walking one in 5.2 innings.
Jackson Gillis (4-1) picked up the victory, helping the Dores to their first win when trailing after six innings. Vanderbilt entered the finale 0-19 in the scenario this season.
The left-hander allowed two hits while striking out one in 1.2 innings. Maddux Conger entered with two aboard and no outs in the ninth but went on to escape an eventual-bases loaded jam with a game-ending lineout double play for his first save.
DeMarco totaled three RBIs as part of his 12th multi-RBI game while Scott and Clarke each plated a pair. Martin reached three times and scored three runs.
Vandy is set to make its 13th-consecutive appearance in the SEC Tournament. The Commodores have finished runner-up at the event in four of the last seven seasons and took home their last tournament title in 2007.
Fans can purchase tickets by visiting SECsports.com.
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