The rainy Nashville weather did fifth ranked Florida (38-12, 19-6 SEC) a favor Friday night, suspending their much anticipated series against number two Vanderbilt (41-7, 19-6 SEC) until Saturday. The rain delay knocked out Commodores pitcher Sonny Gray, who had held the Gators to only two hits in six innings. Florida used the time off to regroup and score two in the ninth to take the series opener, 6-5. The win put UF at the top of SEC standings, tied with Vanderbilt.
On to the highlights...In what figured to be a pitchers duel between the Gators Hudson Randall and 'Dores Sonny Gray, both teams came out swinging. Vanderbilt took the early lead with Jason Esposito's RBI single in the top of the 1st. Florida's Josh Adams countered in the top of the second with a fielder's choice, scoring a run.
The third inning proved to be the most costly for the Gators. Vandy scored three runs on four singles and an error to push the lead to 4-1. That would be all the Commodores could muster off of Randall before the rain delay. The Gators managed to cut the lead to two when Preston Tucker was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, bringing the score to 4-2 before the weather delay.
Both pitchers had pretty good games, despite giving up a combined six runs. Gray went six innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on two hits. Randall went five innings, giving up four runs (only two earned) on eight hits. Although Vanderbilt managed eight hits off of Randall, they were mostly weak shots to the gap. No one seemed to be able to get good aluminum on either pitcher's offerings.
Florida took advantage of the weather delay to tie the game at 4 when Nolan Fontana smashed a two run homer in the top of the seventh.
The Commodores once again took the lead in the bottom of the eighth when Connor Harrell hit an RBI single.
That set up an exciting ninth inning for Gator fans. Adams led off the inning with a solo homerun to tie the game at 5. Bryson Smith hit a one out RBI double to put Florida up for good, 6-5. Smith's double broke a 0-for-16 drought he was mired in. Florida's two runs in the ninth came off of Vandy's Navery Moore who had not allowed an extra base hit all season and held an infinitesimal .36 ERA. Austin Maddox pitched a perfect ninth to record his second save on the season and improve the Gators record to 2-11 when trailing after eight innings.