Behind 4 home runs, Gators even series with Vandy with 11-8 win

Graham Hall
Special to The Sun

Led by four home runs, two from Jud Fabian, No. 14 Florida battled back to even the series with No. 2 Vanderbilt with an 11-8 win Saturday night at Florida Ballpark. 

After Vanderbilt took an early 1-0 lead on an unearned run by Enrique Bradfield Jr., Jacob Young provided a three-run home run that just narrowly landed over the wall in left field, giving the Gators a 3-1 advantage after the first inning. 

Each time Florida pulled in front, the Commodores (32-8, 14-6 SEC) seemed to have an answer. 

Bradfield Jr. provided an RBI single in the second inning to pull even with UF at three runs a piece, and Vandy retook the lead on Parker Noland’s home run. 

But Florida (29-13, 12-8), having fallen into an eight-run hole the night before, didn’t want to fall victim to a similar fate with the series on the line. 

The action continued on the left-field berm as Fabian sent his second home run of the night there, as did Kirby McMullen, to put Florida back in front, 5-4, after three innings. 

Once again, the advantage stood a matter of minutes, as the two SEC powers battled back and forth. 

The ‘Dores would get a two-run blast of their own when Maxwell Romero Jr. hit his third home run of the season over the right-field wall, putting Vandy back in front by a run, which also wouldn’t last. Josh Rivera got an unearned run to help Florida take a 7-6 lead after four innings. 

Across 118 pitches, Florida junior starter Tommy Mace (5-0) allowed seven runs on 10 hits in 8.0 innings — though none of them came in either the fifth or sixth, affording the Gators a chance to extend the lead rather than regain it. 

Jordan Butler doubled to left with two outs and a full count in the fifth, and came home on Rivera’s single. Courtesy of Vanderbilt’s second error of the game, the Gators scored one more run before the inning was over, and it was once again Rivera who scored an unearned run, giving UF the 9-6 advantage. 

Kris Armstrong’s home run — his sixth of the season and second of the series — made it 11-6.

Following three consecutive scoreless innings, Vanderbilt got one back in both the eighth and ninth innings, but the Gators held onto the advantage and hand the Commodores their eighth loss of the season. 

Vanderbilt hadn’t allowed seven runs or more in back-to-back games since March 16-17, 2019, against Texas A&M. 

With the series knotted up, Florida and Vanderbilt will reconvene at 3 p.m. Sunday in the rubber game.