SEC Baseball Today: March 24 > SEC > NEWS
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    SEC Baseball Today: March 24

    Alabama 3, Ole Miss 2
    Florida 5, South Carolina 4
    Arkansas 8, Mississippi State 0
    Kentucky 5, Tennessee 0 (5th inning, ppd.)
    Auburn 3, LSU 2
    Vanderbilt 5, Georgia 4

    Brett Booth Walk-off Home Run Lifts Alabama to 3-2 Win Over No. 17 Mississippi

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Brett Booth’s two-out, two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning propelled the Alabama baseball team to a dramatic, 3-2, win over the No. 17-ranked Mississippi Rebels on Saturday at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. With the victory the Crimson Tide improves to 9-14 on the season and 1-4 in Southeastern Conference play while the Rebels fall to 16-7 (2-3 SEC).

    Booth’s game-winning home run, his first homer of the season, capped a 1-for-4, two-RBI performance at the plate, helping the Crimson Tide halt a five-game losing streak. The walk-off home run was the first for Alabama since Kent Matthes’ walk-off effort versus Nichols State on Feb. 25, 2009. Moreover, it was the Crimson Tide’s first game-winning home run since Brett Whitaker’s 10th-inning game-winning home run against Mississippi State on April 30, 2011.

    “All week we’d been talking about just competing and really having an understanding of what that is at each per bat,” UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “I thought Brett (Booth) just really showed that in the last at-bat, same with (Josh) Rosecrans, to start the inning. Overall, I’m happy for our team. It’s been a tough month and certainly the last week and a half has been a grind. They’ve continued to work hard and stay at it. I’m happy for those guys and hopefully we can take this win into tomorrow.”

    UA starting pitcher Justin Kamplain tossed a career-high 7.0 innings, allowing two runs on three hits while tying his career-high with six strikeouts. The freshman left hander pitched six innings of no-hit ball to start the game, allowing the Rebels their first hit in the seventh. Kamplain retired the first 14 batters he faced, before allowing a walk with two outs in the fifth.

    Freshman Taylor Guilbeau (2-2) earned the victory for the Tide, pitching a scoreless ninth inning of relief. Guilbeau pitched out of a jam in the ninth, getting Zach Kersley to fly out to left field with the bases loaded. On the day, Alabama pitchers allowed the Rebels just two runs on four hits, the second-lowest tally of the season in both categories for Mississippi.

    “Today starts on the mound and Justin Kamplain,” Gaspard said. “I thought that was the best start we’ve had all year, and particularly for any of our freshmen guys that have gone out. You could see that he really slowed the game down today and was able to execute his secondary pitches. That was the plan with Coach Norris; we wanted to pitch backwards, which means we were going to throw a few more breaking balls today. It worked really well against a left-handed dominant lineup with Ole Miss. (Jay) Shaw came in and worked a good inning and then Guilbeau wiggled out there in the ninth inning of a tough spot.”

    Freshman catcher Ben Moore was 1-for-4 at the plate with one RBI day, while freshman AJ Cole tallied a 1-for-3 effort with a run scored, in his first career start at second base. Josh Rosecrans finished the day 2-for-4, marking the third time Rosecrans has registered two or more hits this season.

    Mississippi relief pitcher Brett Huber (0-1) took the loss, after allowing Booth’s walk-off home run. Rebel starter R.J. Hively pitched 8.0 innings, allowing just one run on four hits while striking out eight batters.

    Alabama struck first versus the Rebels for the second consecutive game, taking a 1-0 advantage in the bottom of the third inning on Moore’s two-out RBI single.

    The lead would last all the way to top of the seventh, until Mississippi plated a pair in the frame to take a 2-1 advantage. Rebel second baseman Alex Yarbrough broke up Kamplain’s no-hit effort with a single to lead off the inning. Yarbrough came around to score on a one-out, RBI single by catcher Will Allen. Mississippi grabbed the lead later in the frame on Preston Overbey’s RBI single, scoring Allen from third.

    After a scoreless eighth, Rosecrans led off the ninth with a single to get things started. Brandt Hendricks, who came in to pinch-run for Rosecrans, then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by pinch-hitter Jon Kelton, before later moving to third on a groundout by Cole.

    From there, Booth quickly got down 0-2 before battling his way back against Huber, unleashing a 2-2 pitch over the wall in left field to secure the Tide’s first SEC win of the season.

    The Crimson Tide and Rebels will close out the series on Sunday, with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m., from Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Alabama will start freshman left-hander John Keller (0-0, 3.38), while Mississippi will counter with sophomore righty Mike Mayers (2-2, 3.34)

    No. 1 Florida Claims Rubber Game At No. 6 South Carolina, 5-4


    COLUMBIA, S.C. – Junior Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) delivered a tie-breaking, two-out, two-run triple in the ninth to lift No. 1 Florida (22-2/5-1 SEC) to a 5-4 victory over No. 6 South Carolina (17-7/1-5 SEC)  before another sellout crowd of 8,242 fans at Carolina Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Fontana (2-for-5) had entered the contest 1-for-33 in his career against the Gamecocks and came through with the decisive hit. It was the third time that the Gators have emerged victorious in their final at bat this season and enabled head coach Kevin O’Sullivan’s club to capture the series.

    With the game tied at two runs apiece entering the ninth, junior Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) drew a two-out walk from USC junior Matt Price (3-2) and junior Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) was hit in the back by a 3-2 pitch. Fontana picked an opportune time for his first triple of the season, ripping a 1-2 pitch from Price to the gap in right center to give the Gators a 5-3 advantage. Price stranded Fontana on third by having senior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.) (2-for-5) fly out to right field.

    In the home part of the inning, junior LB Dantzler brought South Carolina within 5-4 with a one-out homer to left center field, his fourth of the year and the first allowed by junior Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) this season. The right-hander (2-0) had senior Adam Matthews foul out to freshman first baseman Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.) for the second out and induced a game-ending fly ball to right field by sophomore pinch hitter Brison Celek as the Gators claimed their second-straight series in Columbia.

    The Gators grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning against junior Colby Holmes on a sacrifice fly by junior Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) (1-for-3, two RBI). Fontana had led off the game with a base-hit into center field and took third on hard single by senior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) that ricocheted off junior first baseman Christian Walker. Zunino’s team-high fifth sacrifice fly went to the warning track in right field and allowed Fontana to break the ice.

    Pigott and Zunino boosted UF’s lead to 3-0 with solo homers in the third inning. With one down, Pigott battled back from 0-2 count and sent his second big fly of the season into the visiting bullpen. Zunino connected on his team-leading ninth round-tripper by hammering a two-out, 2-2 pitch to left center field to give the Orange and Blue a three-run advantage. It was his second-straight game with a homer after a three-run jack in the opening frame on Friday night. 

    Junior Tyler Webb replaced Holmes prior to the fourth after the Gamecock starter surrendered three runs on five hits in three innings of work. Freshman Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) (2-for-4) recorded his fourth double of the season down the left-field line but was left in scoring position when Webb induced consecutive grounders by Ramjit and Dent.

    The Gamecocks narrowed the gap to 3-2 in the fourth inning on two hits and an error. Freshman Joey Pankake (2-for-3) started things off with a single into left field, the initial hit off sophomore right-hander Jonathon Crawford (Okeechobee, Fla.). Walker lofted a fly ball to straightaway center field that Pigott misplayed, leaving the hosts with two runners aboard with none out. Freshman Kyle Martin advanced his teammates with a sacrifice bunt and freshman Grayson Greiner punched an RBI single into center field to bring home Pankake. Sophomore Erik Payne drove in Walker with a sacrifice fly to right field and Crawford prevented further trouble by having Dantzler ground out.

    South Carolina tied the game in the fifth on a two-out RBI single by Pankake that scored freshman Tanner English, who had reached on a one-out double into left field. Ramjit made a phenomenal leaping catch into the stands for the second out on a fly ball by junior Evan Marzilli but Pankake followed with a base-knock into left field to knot the game at 3-3.

    After Crawford went the first five innings, giving up four hits and three runs (one earned), with two strikeouts and a walk, junior Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) took over on the mound. The southpaw set down the Gamecocks in order in the sixth to keep the contest tied.

    Webb (3.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R) registered the first two outs of the seventh before turning the game over to Price, who had Pigott pop-up in foul territory to close the frame.

    Rodriguez issued a one-out walk to Pankake in the eighth, prompting a pitching change. Maddox came in for Rodriguez (2.1 IP, 0 H, 1 BB, 3 K) and uncorked a wild pitch that pushed Pankake into scoring position. The Gators elected to issue an intentional free pass to Walker and USC sent up senior pinch hitter Michael Roth. Another wild pitch advanced both runners into scoring position and Maddox countered with back-to-back strikeouts of Roth and Greiner.

    Florida returns to action on Tuesday night at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville in the second of three meetings against No. 4 Florida State (19-2/6-0 ACC entering today). The contest will begin at 7 p.m. and will be carried live on Sun Sports. The Gators collected a 9-2 victory in the initial encounter at McKethan Stadium on March 13. 

    This Florida-Florida State baseball game is part of the Fresh from Florida Sunshine Showdown Series. Presented by Fresh from Florida, its goal is to remind all fans of the importance of buying home grown and harvested products from Florida. It supports our state’s farmers and fishermen, and our local economies.

    Arkansas blanks Mississippi State 8-0 to even series

    STARKVILLE, Miss. – Ryne Stanek and Cade Lynch combined for a three-hit shutout as the third-ranked Arkansas baseball team blanked Mississippi State 8-0 on Saturday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.

    With the win, the Razorbacks improved to 21-3, 4-1 in the Southeastern Conference, while Mississippi State dropped to 16-8 and 2-3 in league play.

    Stanek was masterful on the mound for the Razorbacks to improve to 6-0 on the season and run his winning streak to eight dating back to last season. The sophomore right hander tossed 6.1 scoreless innings, giving up just three hits and striking out six.

    Lynch finished up the shutout by pitching 2.2 shutout innings. Lynch retired all eight batters he faced, striking out two. The shutout was the fifth of the season for the Razorback pitching staff.

    Mississippi State starter Nick Routt took the loss to drop to 1-3 on the season. Routt allowed two runs on seven hits and struck out eight in 4.2 innings.

    Five players in the Arkansas starting lineup had at least two hits in the win. Matt Reynolds drove in a game-high three runs and went 3-for-5 in the win. Tim Carver went 2-for-4 with two RBI. Dominic Ficociello and Jacob Mahan each drove in a run and added two hits, while Derrick Bleeker also added two hits.

    Seven of Arkansas’ nine starters recorded at least one hit as the Razorback offense had 14 hits in the win. The top four batters in the Razorback lineup combined to 9-for-19 with seven RBI and four runs scored.

    Sam Frost, Trey Porter and Hunter Renfroe each had one hit to account for the three Bulldog base hits in the game.

    After a quiet first four innings, Arkansas struck first with two runs in the top of the fifth. Jacob Morris drew a leadoff walk and then moved to second after a successful sacrifice bunt by Carver. After a strike out of Mahan for the second out of the inning, Ficociello provided a two-out RBI single to center field to score Morris for the game’s first run. Reynolds followed that up with a clutch hit of his own, doubling into left field to bring home Ficociello and put Arkansas in front 2-0.

    The Razorbacks broke the game open with six runs in the top of the sixth inning. A walk to Jake Wise, an infield single by Bleeker and a walk to Morris loaded the bases with nobody out. Carver then drove in a pair of runs with a single to center field. Morris and Carver then executed a double steal to move up to third and second. The catcher’s throw to third was high and went into left field, allowing Morris to score and moving Carver to third. Mahan brought home Carver with a single to right field to make the score 6-0. Ficociello then laid down a bunt single up the third base line and the third baseman’s throw to first was wild, allowing Mahan to advance to third on the error. Reynolds scored both Mahan and Ficociello with a double to the gap in right-center field to put the Razorbacks on top 8-0.

    Stanek and Lynch took care of the rest for Arkansas, completing the shut out of Mississippi State over the final four innings to give the Razorbacks an 8-0 win.

    The three-game weekend series wraps up on Sunday afternoon at 12 p.m. Arkansas will start junior left hander Randall Fant (1-1, 4.82), while Mississippi State will start junior righty Kendall Graveman (2-0, 2.30). The series finale will be televised by FSN and SportSouth.

    No. 2 Kentucky at Tennessee Halted in Fifth; Postponed to Sunday

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- With No. 2 Kentucky owning a 5-0 lead with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning at Tennessee, the game has been postponed, with a resumption slated for 12 p.m. ET Sunday. Following the conclusion of the resumed game, the two teams will finish the weekend with a seven-inning series finale. 

    Kentucky (22-1, 3-1 SEC) owns a 5-0 lead with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning and runners on second and third and leadoff hitter Will Maddox at the plate.

    UK starter Jerad Grundy (3-0) was in the midst of a career outing in the fifth inning, working 4.2 innings, allowing only four hits – two infield knocks – with one walk and two strikeouts.

    The Wildcats had been paced by a two-hit, three-RBI game from J.T. Riddle through the first five innings, with Riddle launching a two-run homer in the fourth inning. Senior Thomas McCarthy is 2-for-3 through the first few frames, with UK also getting hits from A.J. Reed, Michael Williams and Matt Reida. Williams hit his second homer of the year in the second inning but the ball was ruled as having been in play.

    Tennessee (13-8, 2-2 SEC) starter Brandon Zajac made his collegiate debut in the game, tossing 2.2 innings, allowing three hits and three runs, walking one. He was relieved by Conner Stevens, who worked 2.1 innings, allowing four hits and two runs, walking two without a strikeout.

    The games on Sunday will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with Dick Gabriel voicing the action. Fans in Lexington can hear the game live on WGVN 1580-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UK will send sophomore southpaw Corey Littrell (2-0, 2.45 ERA) to the mound to face Tennessee sophomore right-hander Nick Williams (2-2, 2.05 ERA), the brother of UK senior catcher Michael Williams.

    Kentucky got on the board in the second inning, as Reed extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a single to leadoff. After a fielder’s choice erased Reed and put Cameron Flynn on first, McCarthy singled into the gap to push Flynn to third base. Riddle then smacked a grounder off the glove of Zajac up the middle, allowing Flynn to score from third base. Williams then belted his second homer of the year over the leftfield fence, bouncing off the top of the fence and ricocheting off the railing behind the fence. While in his home run trot, the ball was launched back into play after hitting the railing, with Williams tagged out before reaching second base, and McCarthy scoring before the tag. Williams was tagged out on the throw from leftfield, as no signal was made by the three-man umpire crew on the homer until the tag at second base. Williams finished his home run trot without any doubt on his homer, but after a furious reaction from the UK dugout the three-man crew elected to stay with the call on the field, ending the inning.

    UK added a run in the third inning taking advantage of a pair of UT errors. Reida drew a walk to leadoff, with Austin Cousino replacing him at first on a fielder’s choice. Zac Zellers then popped up for the second out, with Cousino stealing second and taking third after a botched pickoff attempt at second base during Zellers’ at bat. Maile then hit a slow roller at third base, going as an error and allowing Cousino to score from third.

    In the fourth inning, UK continued to add to its lead, as McCarthy led off with a single up the middle. Riddle then homered over the rightfield fence – his first of the year – giving UK a 5-0 lead.

    Auburn Downs No. 8 LSU, 3-2, To Win Series

    AUBURN, Ala. – The Auburn defense turned inning-ending double plays in the ninth and 10th innings, both times with the go-ahead run on third, and Dan Glevenyak hit a 10th-inning game-winning sacrifice fly to send the Auburn baseball team to a 3-2 win over No. 8 LSU on Saturday afternoon at Plainsman Park. The win upped Auburn’s record to 15-8, 4-1 SEC and gave the club a third straight series win over LSU, something it hasn’t done since 1988-90.

    Staring at a 2-1 deficit headed to the bottom of the eighth, Auburn tied the game on Garrett Cooper’s RBI single to right, scoring Ryan Tella, who had two hits in the game. That set the stage for the spectacular defensive plays, both of which were 4-6-3 double plays, and Glevenyak’s sac fly.

    The bottom of the 10th started with a four pitch walk to Cullen Wacker out of LSU reliever Joey Bourgeois (0-1). A Cooper sacrifice bunt put the winning run in scoring position for Justin Bryant, who after working a 3-1 count was intentionally walked. LSU then went to closer Nick Goody, and he uncorked a wild pitch to put both men in scoring position and bring Glevenyak to the plate. With a drawn in infield, Goody went to 2-2 on Glevenyak before he hit one plenty deep in right-center for Wacker to race home with the game-winning run and Auburn’s fifth straight win.

    “I was just looking for a ball up in the zone that I could handle. I got a fastball, put a good swing on it and drove it out to right field,” Glevenyak said. “When I first hit it I didn’t think it was going to be that deep but it started carrying and I had a pretty good feeling about it.”

    Slade Smith (2-3) picked up the win out of the Auburn bullpen, entering in the 10th with one down and none out. After giving up back-to-back singles that put runners on the corners, he induced the grounder from Grant Dozar that ended the LSU threat.

    “I can’t say enough about our starting pitching. They get us deep in the game and then when we get the call in the bullpen we just have to go out there and execute pitches and let the offense do what they do,” Smith said. “(Double Plays) are huge. I think I speak for Justin (Bryant) as well. We try not to get ahead of ourselves. We try to stay calm and get ground balls and let the middle infield do their job.”

    Auburn went up 1-0 in the first on a Wacker sacrifice fly to score Jay Gonzalez, who drew the first of his two walks on the afternoon.

    LSU (17-6, 2-3 SEC) responded by taking its first lead of the weekend in the third off of Auburn starter Will Kendall, using a safety squeeze from Chris Sciambra and a sacrifice fly from Mason Katz to go up 2-1.

    Kendall worked six full innings, scattering six hits without issuing a walk while LSU starter Ryan Eades worked 7 1/3 innings, allowing seven hits and four walks, striking out four.

    Auburn’s bullpen of Jay Wade, Bryant, Cory Luckie and Smith combined to throw four innings of shutout ball, allowing five hits and two walks but nothing else.

    Creede Simpson lead Auburn at the plate with three hits, his fourth three-hit game of the season, and also started two of Auburn’s defensive double plays.

    Auburn’s one-run victory was its third straight in SEC play going back to the Sunday win at Ole Miss.

    Auburn will be going for its first season sweep of LSU since 1988 on Sunday and the first at home since 1982. Daniel Koger (1-1) will get the start on the mound for Auburn while LSU will send Aaron Nola (3-1) to the hill. First pitch is set for 1pm.

    Dores walk off with win over Dawgs

    Nashville, Tenn. – Vanderbilt rallied for three runs in the ninth inning to come from behind and beat No. 17 Georgia 5-4 Saturday at Hawkins Field.

    The Commodores’ (8-15, 1-4) ninth inning started with the Bulldogs (17-7, 3-2) leading 4-2 after a Colby May home run in the top of the inning. Vanderbilt, however, bounced back in the bottom of the ninth getting leadoff man Jack Lupo aboard on a Georgia error. With one out, pinch hitter Drew Fann and Tony Kemp drew back-to-back walks to load the bases. Spencer Navin’s sacrifice fly closed the gap to a single run but served as the second out of the inning. A walk to Anthony Gomez loaded the bases again before Georgia closer Blake Dieterich’s fourth walk of the frame, this one to Mike Yastrzemski, forced in a run to tie the game. After a pitching change to freshman Jay Swinford, Conrad Gregor played the hero for the Commodores singling off a diving Levi Hyams in short right field. Gregor was immediately mobbed by his teammates at first base celebrating the Dores’ first Southeastern Conference win of the season.

    Vanderbilt’s pitching kept the team in the game all day despite giving up a season-high 17 hits to the Bulldogs. Starter Tyler Beede turned in five solid innings, allowing one run on eights hits with a career-best eight strikeouts. The freshman pitched into and out of trouble in all five innings wracking up six strikeouts in the first three innings. Sophomore T.J. Pecoraro made his season debut almost 10 months after undergoing ligament replacement (Tommy John) surgery last summer. The right-hander pitched 1.2 scoreless innings allowing one hit and striking out two, including the first batter he faced. Will Clinard (2-1) picked up the win despite giving up May’s home run in the ninth. Dieterich (3-1) took the loss giving up three unearned runs in the ninth.

    Georgia scored first scratching out a run in the second inning on two singles with Peter Verdin’s knocking in a run. The Dores tied the score in the fourth on Gregor’s first RBI-single of the day. The Bulldogs took a late lead with two runs in the seventh on Conor Welton’s two-run single and tacked on another with May’s ninth inning homer. Georgia stranded 14 runners on base leaving at least one runner aboard in all nine innings. Curt Powell and Brandon Stephens each had three hits for the Dawgs in the loss. Gregor led VU with three hits and two RBI while Andrew Harris added a pair of hits. Kemp scored twice and Gomez’s eighth inning sacrifice fly gave him a team-best 22 RBI on the season.

    The win marked the program’s 2000th victory, putting Vanderbilt in company with six other current SEC schools. The victory also snapped a season-long five-game slide and gave the Dores their first win in one-run games this season. The game started two hours late due to a rain delay, the second in as many days of the series.

    The rubber match between the Dores and Dawgs is scheduled for 1 p.m. tomorrow at Hawkins Field.