HOOVER, Ala. - Vanderbilt slipped by No. 2 Florida 2-1 Thursday night at the Southeastern Conference Tournament to earn a bye into the semifinals on Saturday.
The two teams traded zeroes through the first three innings with Vanderbilt (32-25) starter Sam Selman pitching around trouble until the Commodores' offense scored in the fourth inning. Florida (41-17) starter Hudson Randall (7-2) picked up two quick outs to open the frame before issuing back-to-back walks to Conrad Gregor and Spencer Navin. Riley Reynolds' made Randall pay with a triple into the right-center field gap clearing the bases and putting Vandy up 2-0. Selman combined with freshmen Tyler Beede and Jared Miller to make those two runs stand up.
Selman (9-3) was outstanding over six shutout innings to win his ninth game of the year, stranding nine Gators on the base paths. The lefty worked out of jams in the first, third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings, striking out the final batter in his final three innings before turning the ball over to Beede. The freshman right-hander was greeted with a single from leadoff hitter Nolan Fontana, who later advanced to third on an errant pick off throw. Florida's Preston Tucker brought the Gators within a run with a deep fly out to right field to score Fontana. After a walk to Mike Zunino, Miller was summoned from the bullpen. The freshman responded by striking out Florida designated hitter Brian Johnson to end the seventh. Miller then retired six of the next seven batters he faced to notch his first career save and make the Commodores 3-0 in Hoover, Ala.
The VU offense missed out on opportunities to blow the game open in each of their last three at-bats leaving runners in scoring position in all three innings. Vandy posted five hits in the win led by Gregor's two hits. Vanderbilt pitchers held Florida to just four hits on the night, stranding 11 runners. In Vandy's three wins in the tournament VU pitching has stranded 32 base runners.
The win pushed the Commodores' season-best winning streak to eight games and marked the team's 10th win over a ranked opponent in the last 16 games while the team has gone 13-3 overall during the stretch.
The victory also puts Vanderbilt into the semifinals for the second straight season with the Dores awaiting the winner of tomorrow's South Carolina-Florida game. The Commodores will take on the winner in Saturday's second game at approximately 3 p.m. on CSS. In the new SEC Tournament format the tournament becomes single-elimination in the semifinals.