NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Top-ranked Vanderbilt scored nine times in the first inning and received a notable relief performance from right-hander Mason Hickman as part of an 11-6 win on Tuesday night at Hawkins Field.
The victory snapped Samford’s (12-4) 10-game win streak and provided Vanderbilt (14-3) some additional momentum entering Friday’s SEC opener at No. 19 Texas A&M. The Commodores improved to 8-1 in March and have scored double-digit runs five times in the month.
Vanderbilt took advantage of an inconsistent Samford pitching, putting 11 consecutive batters on base in a marathon first inning. After the Bulldogs scored twice in the top half, Vandy answered with nine runs, the most in an opening frame since March 17, 2010 against Western Kentucky.
Samford did not record an out in the first inning until its third pitcher, Luke Corbin settled things down. Starter Gene Hurst (1-1) allowed two walks, two hits and four runs and reliever Billy Creger permitted five runs on two hits and a walk.
Vanderbilt right fielder JJ Bleday extended his on-base streak to 45 games with a walk. All nine Commodore starters scored at least one run including Philip Clarke (2-for-4) who contributed three. Senior Ethan Paul (1-for-2) continued his hot start, driving in three.
Mason Hickman (1-0) provided stability after Samford trimmed its deficit to four with a four-run third inning. The right-hander tossed four scoreless innings, allowing two hits while striking out four without a walk. Reliever Jake Eder retired six consecutive to close it out.
Vandy returns to action on Friday, visiting Texas A&M for a 6:30 p.m. first pitch from Blue Bell Park. Saturday’s middle game is set for 2 p.m. and Sunday’s finale will get underway at 1 p.m. All three matchups can be seen on the SEC Network Plus.