HOOVER, Ala. — Vanderbilt baseball fell to Florida for the fourth time this season in the third round of the SEC Tournament, 6-3, dropping to the losers bracket.
Florida (44-13) broke what was a tight, low-scoring game open in the seventh inning when BT Riopelle hit a grand slam off Bryce Cunningham after two walks and a hit batter had loaded the bases with two outs.
The Gators had just four hits but made them count, as three of the hits were home runs. Vanderbilt (38-18) had 10 hits but just one home run and was unable to string hits together for most of the game.
“We didn’t get the big hit,” coach Tim Corbin said.
Although Cunningham gave up the grand slam, he did strike out seven in 3⅓ innings. Commodores pitchers combined to strike out 14 in just eight innings pitched.
The Commodores will face Alabama on Friday, 30 minutes after the conclusion of the game between Texas A&M and LSU.
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Left-hander Hunter Owen returned to the mound after missing two weeks – including the Florida series – with shoulder soreness.
Owen went just three innings as he was limited by a pitch count, but in those three innings he allowed one run, walked one and struck out five. After a shaky first inning in which he got out of a bases-loaded jam and a leadoff home run in the second, Owen didn’t allow a baserunner the rest of his outing.
“I thought as he progressively pitched, I thought there was some rhythm,” Corbin said. “We couldn’t take him very long. But he did well as he continued to pitch.”
Top of the order comes through
Enrique Bradfield Jr. led off the game with an opposite-field triple off Gators starter Brandon Sproat. Davis Diaz brought him home with an RBI groundout.
Diaz also brought home the second run of the game with an RBI single in the fifth inning.
Although the top of the order produced, Vanderbilt struggled to string hits together and didn’t hit the ball out of the ballpark, leading to a low-scoring game despite out-hitting Florida.
“It’s just baseball,” Diaz said. “They executed pitches well, so you know, a lot of credit goes to them, but yeah, we just couldn’t get that big hit at the end. You know, sometimes it comes, sometimes it doesn’t.”
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Vanderbilt baseball falls to Florida in SEC Tournament