SEC Baseball Tournament: Kentucky beat Vanderbilt 10-2
May 28, 2022
Ryan Ritter notched 3 RBIs for the Kentucky Wildcats on Friday as the team crushed the Vanderbilt Commodores 10-2 to advance to the next round of the SEC Tournament. The Wildcats tallied 16 total hits compared to the Commodores recording just seven hits, advancing to the double-elimination fourth round.
The No. 8 seed Commodores was eliminated from the SEC Tournament Friday after making mistakes defensively, missing chances with runners on base, and pitching that was inconsistent. They dropped to No. 12 Kentucky, making many mistakes similar to those that were seen during the team's game against Tennessee in Hoover, Alabama, on Thursday.
In the NCAA Tournament, Vanderbilt will receive either a No. 2 or No. 3 seed, heading to its first regional since 2018. The Commodores' two-game losing streak in the SEC Tournament was perhaps their most disappointing defensive performance of the season.
As for the Wildcats, this is the first time since 2014 that they won multiple games in the SEC Tournament. On Saturday, the team will face the losing team of LSU-Tennessee in another elimination game.
Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt
With four and two hits respectively, Javier Vaz and Parker Noland stood out. Vanderbilt starting pitcher Chris McElvain gave up five earned runs in 4 1/3 innings. He then had to fight through several obstacles caused by mistakes behind him that did not register in the scorebook as official errors. Consequently, the Commodores gave up 16 hits.
The blunders took place immediately. After walking to start the game, Enrique Bradfield Jr. stole second but got picked off as the Commodores failed to score despite loading the bases. A fielding error by Bradfield led to the Wildcats' Ritter's double in the second inning. Ritter eventually scored later. A sacrifice fly by Spencer Jones brought Bradfield home in the third inning for Vanderbilt.
As the Commodores' infield struggled, Kentucky added two runs each in the fourth and fifth frames to dominate the game. Carter Young's barehanded attempt was ruled as an infield single.
The Wildcats attempted a squeeze bunt, but because of a miscommunication left first base uncovered, all runners advanced safely. McElvain was replaced by Thomas Schultz in the fifth, appearing frustrated as he slammed his glove on the bench in the dugout.
In the sixth, Kentucky bullpen ace Tyler Guilfoil entered, although Vanderbilt scored one run in the seventh on Noland's RBI single. However, a familiar sequence backfired on the Commodores: rookie third baseman Rob Gordon allowed a ground ball to slip through his legs, while Dominic Keegan missed a pitch that led to a run-scoring passed ball. In the seventh inning, a five-run game with four unearned runs effectively handed the Wildcats the victory.
Kentucky tallied 16 hits, making 12-of-26 hits with runners on and 7-of-18 with runners in scoring position. None of its 10 runs were scored using the long ball. Ritter tallied 3 RBIs with two doubles.
The Wildcats sent four pitchers to the mound. Ryan Hagenow started and pitched two innings. Daniel Harper won after throwing 4.1 innings. The sixth save of 2022 went to Guilfoil in the final 3.2 innings.