Vanderbilt evened up its season series against powerhouse Texas A&M and advanced to the sunny side of the SEC Tournament bracket by winning a 6-5 nailbiter against the Aggies on Wednesday.
Four of the Commodores' six runs came off the bats of the team's freshmen. Julian Infante, Connor Kaiser, Alonzo Jones, and Walker Grisanti combined to go 6-12 at the plate with four RBI and four runs scored.
The Aggies struck first in an explosive second inning. A Jonathan Moroney double and an Austin Homan triple put Texas A&M up 3-0 early in Hoover.
The Commodores responded. Will Toffey took advantage of a two-out A&M error to plate a pair of runs with a big single in the top of the third. One batter later, Kaiser singled through the left side to knot this game at three-all.
Vanderbilt took the lead in the fifth inning when Infante hit his second home run of the SEC Tournament. His solo shot put the 'Dores up 4-3.
However, it wouldn't last. Starter John Kilichowski cruised through the first two outs of the sixth inning before giving up a two strike single to A&M catcher Michael Barash. Kilichowski worked another two-strike count in the next at-bat, but a passed ball/wild pitch combo moved Barash to third, where Nick Banks singled him home to tie the game. Matt Ruppenthal came to the mound in relief, but a walk and a ground ball single put the Aggies ahead 5-4 after six innings.
Vanderbilt tied the game back up in the eighth, but only managed a single run after loading the bases with no outs against the A&M bullpen. Kaiser worked a full count before scoring Alonzo Jones on a sacrifice fly to right field, but a bizarre botched steal saw Infante get gunned at third base before pinch hitter Liam Sabino grounded out to third base on a play that may or may not have pulled Aggie first baseman Hunter Melton off the bag. The Commodore coaching staff protested, but the play was not reviewable.
Walker Grisanti's first SEC Tournament at-bat would make any argument about the eighth inning a moot point. The freshman's first-ever NCAA home run came at an opportune time. His blast to right field put Vanderbilt ahead 6-5 in the top of the ninth inning.
A leadoff walk gave Texas A&M hope, but Homan's inability to lay down a bunt prevented the Aggies from moving their runner to second base. That mistake would be huge, because the very next at-bat brought this gorgeous, game-ending 3-6-1 double play.
Vanderbilt advances to play the winner of today's game between Ole Miss and South Carolina. First pitch will be at 4:30 p.m. CST.