A sloppy day of baseball Sunday led to Vanderbilt’s first home-series loss in Southeastern Conference play in two years.
Committing four errors and leaving 10 runners on base, the 17th-ranked Commodores dropped a 3-1 decision to 22nd-ranked Kentucky at Hawkins Field in a game delayed nearly two hours by rain.
It marked VU’s first SEC series loss at home since 2006. The Commodores scored six runs over the weekend, their lowest total in a three-game conference series in five years.
“Every phase, terrible,” Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said. “Terrible at the plate, terrible defensively. It’s a shame.”
Commodore leadoff batters reached base in six of the first seven innings, but VU couldn’t muster clutch hits against Kentucky starting pitcher Greg Dombrowski (5-0), who picked up the win while surrendering just one earned run despite giving up 11 hits.
Trailing 3-1, Vanderbilt’s final shot came with the bases loaded in the eighth inning, but Wildcats reliever Andrew Albers induced Steven Liddle into an inning-ending double play.
VU starter Nick Christiani (5-2) pitched his first career complete game, allowing six hits and striking out five. Corbin said his team’s shoddy defense undermined Christiani’s strong outing.
“I thought he was competitive and came right after the hitters,” Corbin said. “He threw a shutout and we (expletive) it up. We handed them three runs. That’s the thank you he gets.”
Christiani shrugged off his bad luck.
“There have been times when I haven’t pitched very well at all,” he said. “Things like this happen.”
Vanderbilt fell to 33-13 and 11-9 in SEC play, while Kentucky improved to 33-11 and 11-10.
Pedro Alvarez had three hits, including a double, to lead the VU offense.
A two-run triple by UK’s Sawyer Carroll in the fifth inning proved to be the decisive blow. His hit scored Bryan Rose and Collin Cowgill, who had back-to-back two-out singles.
Alvarez doubled to lead off the fifth inning but Vanderbilt couldn’t capitalize. In the seventh, VU’s David Macias led off with a single but was thrown out stealing.
In the eighth, a single by Dominic de la Osa and back-to-back walks by Andrew Giobbi and Shea Robin loaded and the bases and knocked Dombrowski out of the game.
Albers, a lefty, then quelled the rally by getting Liddle to ground into a double play to second base.
“We just didn’t come through in some key situations, but that’s not going to happen very often,” Christiani. “We’re a good hitting team.”
Losing an SEC series at home stunned the Commodores, the defending league champions.
“It’s surprising to lose at home, but that’s done with,” Alvarez said. “We just have to move on.”