HOOVER, Ala. — Vanderbilt dominated its opponent for the second straight time at the Southeastern Conference tournament, ripping Texas A&M 12-3 on Saturday to clinch a spot in the championship game.
The Commodores (42-18) broke open their semifinal game with a five-run fifth inning and a two-run sixth to put them ahead 11-3 against the Aggies (45-11), who handed them their only loss of the tournament Thursday, 6-1.
Vanderbilt, the reigning national champion, rebounded Friday with a 16-1 beating of Alabama in seven innings.
Saturday against A&M, the Commodores held a 4-3 lead after four innings before their outburst in the fifth and sixth.
Dansby Swanson hit a two-run homer in the seventh after Jeren Kendall was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
“(Swanson) doesn’t come in here looking to hit home runs,” Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said. “He just comes in to center the ball. He certainly can hit it.”
In the Commodores’ dominant fifth inning, Rhett Wiseman scored first on a throwing error by Tyler Stubblefield after Swanson’s bunt. After another Aggies error, Zander Wiel reached first and Swanson scored from third. Kendall then tripled, scoring Wiel and Toffey. Penn Murfee followed with a sacrifice fly to left, bringing home Kendall.
“I like the offensive push that was made throughout the game,” Corbin said. “We played very well. We had a lot of quality at-bats and there were a couple of walks that we maximized. It was a good bounceback game in a lot of ways.”
Vanderbilt kicked off the second inning with Toffey’s two-run homer hit to left field. A&M answered in the bottom of the second on Nick Choruby’s single to score Nick Banks, cutting Vandy’s lead to 2-1.
Wiel hit the Commodores’ second home run of the day in the third, followed by another run scored by Toffey on a wild pitch by the Aggies’ Andrew Vinson.
“This is big time baseball right here,” Wiseman said. “This is playoff baseball. If we can play well in these types of situations, then we’ll be good to go. This team is young. There are a lot of young guys on this team and a lot of new energy. I think the dynamic of this team is different than teams in the past. There’s a lot of good stuff going on in the dugout and on the field.”
Vanderbilt pitcher John Kilichowski (3-3) threw five hitless innings in relief.
Andrew Vinson (4-2) took the loss for Texas A&M. He allowed four runs on four hits in just three innings.