MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (VUAD)– No. 7 Vanderbilt clubbed a season-high four home runs, including two from JJ Bleday, and scored seven times in the third inning as part of a 15-3 win against Middle Tennessee at Reese Smith Jr. Field on Tuesday night.
The victory was Vanderbilt’s seventh consecutive in the midweek and snapped a brief two-game losing streak. The result marked the seventh time in 12 games that Vandy (25-8) has scored double-digit runs against the Blue Raiders (13-19).
The Commodores struck for seven runs on six hits in the third. Isaiah Thomas recorded his first-career hit, scoring Dominic Keegan on a double down the left-field line. Two batters later, Julian Infante contributed his fourth homer in nine games, swatting a three-run long ball over the left-field wall.
Bleday, who reached twice in the third (walk, RBI-single), unloaded a three-run homer to start the scoring in the first and swatted a solo long ball in the seventh. The junior has accounted for eight in his last 10 games and two multi-homer performances in nine outings.
Thomas clocked a two-run homer and Harrison Ray sent a single through the left side as part of a three-run fourth. The freshman was among five players with multiple hits including Bleday who finished 3-for-3 and drove in five runs.
Starter Mason Hickman (4-0) lowered his ERA to 1.93, permitting just five hits and two runs (none earned) in five innings. The right-hander, who has not allowed an earned run in three of his four starts, fanned six and did not allow a walk for the first time in a start this season.
AJ Franklin and Ethan Smith added consecutive hitless innings before Joe Gobillot entered to make his collegiate debut. The redshirt freshman struck out the side during a night in which Commodore pitching fanned 14 batters.
Vanderbilt returns to Hawkins Field on Friday, opening a three-game series against No. 12 Arkansas at 7 p.m. The matchup will air on the SEC Network. Saturday’s middle game starts at 8 p.m. on ESPNU and Sunday’s finale gets underway at 1 p.m. on the SEC Network Plus