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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

VandyBoys come from behind for the second straight night, beat Florida 8-6

The Vanderbilt Commodores won Game 2 over the No. 23 Florida Gators for their second straight come-from-behind win.
Vanderbilt Athletics
The VandyBoys celebrate during their win over Florida on April 16, 2022. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

The Vanderbilt Commodores (25-9, 7-7) won the second game of their series against the No. 23 Florida Gators (21-14, 5-9), 8-6. 

In front of a mostly full Saturday night crowd at Hawkins Field, a sixth-inning triple by Enrique Bradfield Jr. completed the VandyBoys’ initial comeback from 4-0 down. The game also saw the reintroduction of junior Nick Maldonado, who made his first appearance since March 6 due to an oblique injury.

“It was a good offensive game knowing where we came from,” Corbin said. “We just felt like we needed to nibble away [at their lead].”

Freshman left-hander Carter Holton (ND, 4-2) took the mound for the VandyBoys against Florida flamethrower Brandon Sproat (ND, 4-3). Head coach Tim Corbin combatted the right-handed Sproat with a lineup that included four lefties as well as switch-hitter Carter Young. Senior Javier Vaz returned to the lineup in the second spot, dropping Davis Diaz to the eight-hole and leaving Calvin Hewett on the bench.  

The Gators scored first in the top of the second thanks to a towering solo home run by catcher BT Riopelle that cleared the right-field bleachers on the fly.

Holton struck out the side in the third inning, but the Commodore offense was unable to capitalize. Florida started their half of the fourth with a hard-hit single into right. That was followed by Riopelle’s second moonblast in as many at-bats, this time over the left-field monster. After Kendrick Calilao hit a fly ball into the gap that was caught by Enrique Bradfield Jr., Josh Rivera homered to put the visitors up 4-0. Florida loaded the bases on two walks and a hit-by-pitch, but Holton got the ninth hitter of the inning to ground out to end the threat.

Holton was able to miss a lot of bats in his usual style, striking out eight in his start. However, the Florida hitters who were able to make contact hit the ball hard, touching the southpaw for four earned runs on four hits in his four innings and 92 pitches of work. Pitch command was also an issue, with Holton allowing four walks and a hit-by-pitch in his start.

Senior first baseman Dominic Keegan led off the bottom of the fourth with a first-pitch home run to put the VandyBoys on the scoreboard, after which Jones reached on an infield hit. Bulger then grounded into a double play, and the inning ended 4-1.

The VandyBoys threatened again in the bottom of the fifth, which was led off by a Diaz walk and a single by Young to turn over the lineup. After Bradfield Jr. reached on a fielder’s choice, Vaz singled to right to record his 20th RBI of the season and put the Commodores within two. Sproat got Keegan to ground into a double play to end the inning at 4-2.

Freshman Donye Evans pitched very well in relief of Holton, throwing two scoreless innings with two strikeouts and no hits.

Jones doubled to the deepest part of the park in the bottom of the sixth for his third hit of the game. After a Kolwyck walk and a fielder’s choice, the VandyBoys had runners on the corners with one out. Freshman Jonathan Vastine laid down a safety squeeze bunt, and Jones was called out at the plate. However, the call was overturned on review, cutting the lead to one.

“I was just going on that down angle,” Jones said. “I was anticipating ball down, and the second I saw it down, I jumped. Vasty put a good bunt down, and that’s all you can really ask for in that situation.”

Young’s walk loaded the bases. In Bradfield Jr.’s fourth plate appearance, he tripled into right-center field to score all three runs and put the VandyBoys ahead 6-4, knocking out Sproat in the process.

“I was just looking for a good pitch I could get,” Bradfield Jr. said after the game. “I hadn’t been having the best time statistically, but I know that if I respect the game, the game’s going to come right back to me. That was the biggest thing for me in that moment.”

Maldonado came out for the seventh inning in his return following a month-long injury spell. After retiring the first two batters he faced, Longford singled and Riopelle hit his third homer of the game to tie the game at six. Maldonado recorded one strikeout and the win in his one-inning appearance.

Florida pitching walked two of the first three Vanderbilt hitters, and Kolwyck punished the Gators with a single through the gap into left field to put the VandyBoys ahead once again. The Commodores loaded the bases for Young, who flew out to the warning track in left field to end the inning.

The VandyBoys added on one more in the bottom of the eighth, with Bradfield Jr. scoring from second on Keegan’s second RBI of the night to put the Commodores up by two.

“We were stacking at-bats together all night long, and we couldn’t let up because they’re not going to give up. So for us, we just keep doing what we’re doing,” Keegan said.

Junior Thomas Schultz came out of the bullpen for the second straight night. After cruising through the top of the eighth, Schultz hit the first Florida batter of the ninth. Two outs later, the VandyBoys intentionally walked Riopelle rather than giving him a chance to tie the game with a fourth home run. The move paid off, as Schultz struck out the next batter to complete a six-out save and win the game for the VandyBoys.

“His ability just to get in there, and throw strikes and stay aggressive knowing the game can go either way, I thought he did a great job,” said Corbin.

The Commodores will go for the sweep in tomorrow’s series finale against Florida, with first pitch scheduled for 12 p.m. CDT. Corbin declined to name a starter.

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About the Contributor
Frankie Sheehy
Frankie Sheehy, Former Deputy Sports Editor
Frankie Sheehy ('24) wrote for The Hustler Sports section and graduated from the College of Arts and Science with majors in economics and law, history and society. He was also the president of the Vanderbilt Chess Club and a superfan of the Chicago White Sox. You can reach him at [email protected].
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