No. 8-seed Vanderbilt picked up an important win for its NCAA Tournament resume, beating fellow bubble team Florida, the SEC Tournament’s 9-seed, in opening-round action Tuesday. Vandy’s 6-3 win advances the Commodores to the double-elimination stage, where they’ll take on 1-seed Tennessee.

It all started on the mound for the Dores. Skipper Tim Corbin turned to Bryce Cunningham, and the weekend hurler delivered a quality start.

Cunningham went 6 scoreless innings on 77 pitches. Facing 24 batters, he struck out 6 while allowing 5 hits.

Florida batters struggled against Vandy pitching. The Gators finished .154 (2-of-13) with runners on, and .125 (1-of-8) with runners in scoring position.

The Vandy Boys displayed strong situational hitting in getting to Florida starter Pierce Coppola early. With 2 on and nobody out, a ground out and sac fly gave the Commodores a 2-0 lead in the 3rd inning.

Vanderbilt chased Coppola in the 4th inning and extended its lead to 4-0 with a pair of RBI singles. Matthew Polk and Braden Holcomb each finished with 2 RBIs.

Calvin Hewett added a solo homer off Jack Clemente in the 5th inning to make it 5-0. An RJ Austin RBI single in the 7th inning made it 6-0.

Florida scored on an RBI ground out in the top of the 8th and got a 2-run homer from Michael Robertson in the 9th inning, but could not rally any further.

Vandy gets bubble boost; Florida will sweat it out

Florida ended the regular season thinking it had done what was necessary to get in the NCAA Tournament. The Gators took 2-of-3 from a highly-ranked Georgia team to finish 2 games above .500 and get to 13 SEC wins. With an RPI above No. 30, UF’s 2024 resume would qualify for every NCAA Tournament since 2012.

This year, though, could be an exception to the 13/30 rule. Six SEC teams are solidly in the NCAA Tournament. Five teams finished with 13 regular-season conference wins. The SEC has never received more than 10 bids to the NCAA Tournament.

All five 13-win clubs played Tuesday. LSU, South Carolina and Vanderbilt picked up wins boosting their stock. Alabama still has the No. 18 RPI after losing to South Carolina.

The Vandy Boys can breathe easier, improving to 36-20 overall with the No. 22 RPI and No. 15 strength of schedule. On Monday, D1Baseball projected Vanderbilt as a 3-seed in the Corvallis Region (hosted by No. 10 Oregon State) and Florida a 3-seed in the Tallahassee Regional (hosted by No. 9 Florida State).

UF will be on edge for the next few days, hoping that the No. 29 RPI and No. 1 strength of schedule prove to be enough to hear its name called on Selection Monday. It may come down to how many bid thieves win conference tournaments, as Kevin O’Sullivan’s team looks to be 11th in the SEC pecking order.