Anthony Gomez drove in the go-ahead run — then stole second, third and home — and Vanderbilt rode a five-run ninth inning to an 8-6 victory over Florida on Saturday in the Southeastern Conference tournament.
The Commodores (33-25), aiming for their first SEC tournament title since 2007, face Mississippi State in Sunday’s championship game. They have made it to the final game six times in nine trips to Hoover, Ala., under coach Tim Corbin.
Vanderbilt fueled the comeback win over the Gators (42-18) with a flurry of stolen bases, six in the ninth. That included a triple-steal with the bases loaded when Gomez made his dash to home plate.
The Commodores had entered the inning down 4-3 but touched up closer Austin Maddox for five hits and two walks.
“We got exposed there in the ninth,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Nobody likes to lose, but I’m glad it happens this week and not next [in an NCAA regional]. Trust me, we’ll get that cleaned up.”
Florida scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth and had the bases loaded before Vanderbilt reliever Drew VerHagen got Justin Shafer to pop up to right field on his sole pitch to end the game.
Brian Johnson went 4 for 5 with four RBI, including one in the bottom of the ninth, and doubled twice to lead the Gators. Their own comeback bid fell short.
The Gators had loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, but reliever Will Clinard (7-2) got Vickash Ramjit to ground into a double play and stay within one run.
“We showed a lot of fight in our team,” said Johnson, who starred at the plate a day after pitching his first career complete-game in a win over South Carolina. “Hopefully, it’s a good sign of things to come for what we have coming up next.”
The Commodores started the rally with help from the bench. Pinch-hitters Connor Castellano and Andrew Harris led off with a double and sacrifice bunt.
• Virginia 5, Florida State 0: Derek Fisher and Colin Harrington drove in two runs apiece, and Virginia beat Florida State in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Artie Lewicki struck out four and allowed three hits in seven innings for the fourth-seeded Cavaliers (38-17-1). They finished pool play with a 2-1 record and sent the top-seeded Seminoles (43-15) to a surprising 0-3 finish in the tournament.
Virginia led 1-0 in the fourth inning before breaking the game open by scoring six runs in the seventh inning.
Devon Travis had two of Florida State’s five hits.
Sun Belt tourney
• Arkansas State 12, FIU 4: FIU finished the 2012 season with a 31-26 record after a loss to Arkansas State in the Sun Belt tournament at Bowling Green Ballpark in Bowling Green, Ky.
Freshman Roche Woodard was 2 for 4 with two runs scored while Pablo Bermudez doubled in a run in his final game as a Panther. Senior R.J. Fondon pitched in his final game and struck out two over 4 2/3 innings.