HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — Alan Espinal went 3 for 4 with a double, a solo home run and scored twice, Chris Maldonado and RJ Austin each had two RBIs and Vanderbilt beat Florida 11-6 Saturday in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament.
No. 4 seed Vanderbilt (40-18) will take on No. 10 seed Texas A&M for the championship on Sunday. The Aggies held on to beat second-seeded Arkansas, ranked No. 4 in the coaches poll, 5-4 in the other semifinal to become the first double-digit seed to advance to the title game.
The Commodores used a walk, a hit by pitch, two errors and a wild pitch to take a 2-0 lead before RJ Austin came up with the first hit of the game, a two-RBI double down that line in left to make it 4-0 in the top of the first inning. Espinal led off the second with a homer and Chris Maldonado’s RBI single made it 6-0. After Cade Kurland hit a solo homer to get the Gators on the board in the top of the third, Vanderbilt had a walk and five singles before Maldonado’s RBI double made it 10-1 going into the fourth.
Luke Heyman hit a solo shot in the fourth inning for No. 2 and top-seeded Florida (44-14). Wyatt Langford added a two-run homer in the fifth and JT Riopelle went 1 for 4 with two RBIs.
Nick Maldonado entered the game with runners on first and second with no outs in the eighth and needed just 13 pitches to escape the jam with Vanderbilt’s five-run lead still intact. He retired the Gators 1-2-3 in the ninth to seal the victory.
Grayson Moore (1-0) replaced starter JD Thompson with two out in the fifth inning and allowed three hits and an earned run with two strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings pitched.
Davis Diaz drew a walk on a nine-pitch at bat in the first inning and a seven-pitch at bat in the second and scored after each for the Commodores.