The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

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 fail to sweep No. 23 Florida, lose 4-3 in series finale

Jack Bulger hit a two-run home run to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth but the Commodores lost, 4-3, to the Florida Gators in 10 innings on Sunday afternoon.
Bryce Cunningham mid pitch in the series finale against the Florida Gators on April 17, 2022. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

The Vanderbilt Commodores (25-10, 7-8 SEC) dropped the series finale against the No. 23 Florida Gators (22-14, 6-9), 4-3, on an overcast afternoon at Hawkins Field. Down 3-1 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Commodores forced extra innings after a two-run home run by Bulger, but they ultimately fell short after 10 innings of play.

“Looking at the totality of [the weekend series], it was fine,” head coach Tim Corbin said. “You get into a Sunday situation like this and you feel like you’ve got a great opportunity. But we didn’t deserve that today from an offensive standpoint.”

The Gators pounced on righty Bryce Cunningham (ND, 1-0) early, notching four hits and taking advantage of a fielding error by the Commodores to go up 2-0 in the first inning.

Both pitchers worked 1-2-3 innings in the second inning before Jud Fabian hit a solo home run to left center in the top of the third, extending the Gators’ lead to 3-0.

The tide turned in the bottom of the fifth, however, as Parker Noland crushed a one-out solo home run to left center and cut the Gators’ lead to 3-1.

In the top of the sixth, BT Riopelle of the Gators hit a one-out triple to left field but on a relay from Bradfield Jr., Young threw Riopelle out as he attempted to advance home. Young’s defensive prowess kept the Commodores down just two and allowed Cunningham to make it through six innings on the day. He threw 87 pitches, notched three strikeouts and allowed seven hits and two earned runs.

“It just helps us. We need to find four quality starters,” Corbin said about Cunningham’s quality start. “We’ve got to get better in that area. At times, as of late, we’ve pitched well, but we’ve just got to get back in that area.”

In the top of the seventh, righty Grayson Moore came in to replace Cunningham. Moore pitched one inning, allowed a hit and recorded two strikeouts.

Despite throwing 87 pitches, Neely made it back out to the mound in the bottom of the seventh. He forced a groundout by Spencer Jones but then walked Jack Burger, which prompted Florida manager Kevin O’Sullivan to replace him with righty Tyler Nesbitt (W, 1-2). With one out, Nesbitt inherited a runner on first but worked out of the jam to escape the inning.

To start the top of the eighth, righty Christian Little (L, 0-1) came in to replace Moore. Little worked efficiently through the eighth and ninth innings, notching a strikeout and allowing no hits on just 16 total pitches.

Nesbitt returned once again for the Gators in the bottom of the ninth. Vaz quickly popped out and then Keegan struck out looking before Jones got things going for the Commodores with a single down the third base line. Then, with two outs and facing an 0-2 count, Bulger hit a screaming two-run homer over the left field wall to tie the game, 3-3. Next, Kolwyck was walked, but Parker Noland fouled out to end the inning and send the game to extras.

“We got a big hit at the end, so we never stopped playing,” Corbin said. “But it was tough going; our offense was dry today.”

In the top of the 10th, Little notched a strikeout but allowed a one-out solo homer over the left field wall by Deric Fabian, which put the Gators up, 4-3. Up until this point, Little had not allowed a home run this season. After the home run, Little forced two groundouts to get out of the inning, but the damage had been done.

The Commodores quickly had their backs against the wall once again, but with two outs in the bottom of the 10th, there was unexpected life when Bradfield Jr. hit a grounder to the right side of the infield and made it to first on an errant throw by Colby Halter, the Florida second baseman. Bradfield Jr. then advanced to second after a balk by Nesbitt, but a groundout by Vaz ended the game and sealed the Gators’ 4-3 victory over the Commodores.

Up next, the Commodores face the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles on April 19 at 6 p.m. CDT at Hawkins Field.

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About the Contributor
Andy Carr
Andy Carr, Former Assistant Sports Editor
Andy Carr ('22) was a student in the College of Arts and Science who studied economics with minors in business and computer science. In addition to writing, he enjoys running, playing golf and rooting for all D.C. sports. He can be reached at [email protected].
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