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    SEC Baseball Today: March 30

    Tennessee 10, Alabama 8
    Mississippi State 5, Auburn 3
    South Carolina 8, Vanderbilt 3
    Ole Miss 3, Florida 0
    LSU 10, Arkansas 6
    Kentucky at Georgia, ppd.

    Vols Rally from Six-Run Deficit for Exciting 10-8 Victory Over Alabama

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The 100th all-time meeting between Tennessee and Alabama was certainly an eventful one as the Volunteers (16-10, 3-4 SEC) rallied from a six-run deficit, exploding for four runs in both the third and eighth innings, to record a 10-8 triumph in the series opener against the Crimson Tide (9-17, 1-6) on Friday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

    “I am very proud of our guys,” UT head coach Dave Serrano said. “That is the only thing I said to them in the locker room was how proud I was and how proud this coaching staff was of them. When (Alabama was) up 6-0, I went walking up and down the dugout saying maybe this is supposed to happen for a reason. Maybe we need to find a way to overcome some real adversity and there was no panic, there was no yelling and screaming. There was maybe some frustration, but we got on it offensively and dropped a four. That kept us in the game offensively. We did a lot of good things and in the end they gave us the (two wild pitches), but we will take it any way we can get it.

    “We overcame ourselves today,” Serrano said. “We have a lot of guys in that locker room right now that are feeling pretty good and confident about themselves, and that there is no deficit we cannot overcome when we play the game together. That is what I want them to feel. I have been a part of wins like this in the past, but this goes up there pretty high for me. How we have been swinging the bats, how we haven’t been able to overcome a lot of deficits especially by the amount we were down and to see this team before your eyes grow up is pretty exciting to me.”

    The Volunteer offense pulled out all the stops on Friday, scoring on a straight steal of home, a pair of wild pitches, two home runs, two groundouts, a bases-loaded walk and a single.

    The win over Alabama is Tennessee’s third straight, including a doubleheader sweep in Tuscaloosa last season, which marks just the second time since the start of the rivalry in 1897 that UT has recorded three consecutive wins over the Tide. The only other time the Vols have accomplished that feat came in 1994 when they swept a three-game series in Tuscaloosa.

    Down by two going into the bottom of the eighth, UT loaded the bases with nobody out after a pair of singles and a hit batter. Tide pitcher Jay Shaw was able to retire the next hitter, but Will Maddox followed with a run-scoring walk before pinch-hitter Wes Walker tied the game with a groundout to third. The Vols tacked on two more as Alabama uncorked back-to-back wild pitches to put the Big Orange ahead, 10-8.

    Junior Nick Blount came on in the ninth to record the final three outs for his fourth save of the season and third in the last three games. Sophomore Carter Watson (2-0) picked up the win after striking out two in his only inning of work, while Shaw (0-1) suffered the loss, yielding two runs in a third of an inning.

    Chris Pierce, Zach Osborne and Maddox each had three hits for the Orange and White, with Maddox hitting his first career home run and driving in a career-high four runs. All three players were 3-for-4 on the night with Pierce scoring three times and Osborne adding a pair of doubles.

    Ethan Bennett also launched a longball for UT, his second of the year. It was Tennessee’s first two-home run game since the season opener against Northern Illinois on Feb. 17.

    The offenses exploded for both teams in the third inning with Alabama scoring five and Tennessee plating four. The Crimson Tide jumped out to a 6-0 lead thanks to a pair of singles that brought in three runs and a double that scored two more.

    The Vols stormed back into striking distance though, getting four consecutive extra-base hits to start the bottom of the third, including a pair of home runs, en route to a four-run inning. Leading off the frame, Bennett launched a 2-2 pitch well over "The Porch" in left for his second dinger of the year and UT's first run of the day.

    Osborne followed by ripping a double down the left-field line before Maddox crushed the very next pitch high off the foul pole in right for his first career home run, cutting the Alabama lead in half. Zach Luther made it four straight extra-base hits with a double to left before back-to-back groundouts brought him home and put the tally on the scoreboard at 6-4.

    The two teams traded runs in the fourth with Alabama using a pair of doubles to plate one and the Vols getting a bases-loaded single by Maddox to score theirs. It appeared that Tennessee had another run when Luther lifted what looked like a sac fly to center, but the home plate umpire ruled that the UT runner left third base early though, bringing the inning to a close.

    Alabama tacked on one more in the fifth but the Vols got it back in the sixth. With one out, Pierce singled to left before moving to third on Osborne's second double of the day. With the pitcher working out of the windup, Pierce took off for home and slid in safely ahead of the pitch and the tag. The straight steal of home put the Vols down by just two at 8-6 and set up the exciting eighth inning. The last Vol to steal home was Khayyan Norfork against Kentucky on May 2, 2010.

    “That steal at home was all coach Bergeron,” Serrano said. “That was his aggressiveness and that was probably the momentum changer that allowed us to win the game. I think that really got our team the level of help we needed to get back in the game.”

    Tennessee will go for the series win over Alabama at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The Vols will send senior southpaw T.J. Thornton (0-0, 5.25) to the mound, while the Tide will counter with a lefty of their own in Justin Kamplain (1-1, 2.54). The game will be televised on CSS with Bernie Guenther and former UT player Rusty Ensor on the call.

    MSU Wins Friday Night Series Opener at Auburn

    AUBURN, Ala. – Welcome back Brent Brownlee.
    Brownlee, an outfielder for the Mississippi State baseball team, returned to the lineup for the first time since March 3 and had a critical eighth-inning throw out at home plate, helping preserve the Baseball Bulldogs’ 5-3 win over No. 24 Auburn Friday night at Plainsman Park.
    MSU won a Southeastern Conference series opener for a second straight weekend. With the win, MSU improved to 18-9 overall and 3-4 in league play. Auburn fell to 15-11 and 4-3.
    Once again, MSU pitching was the story of the night. Chris Stratton (6-0) notched another quality start, allowing eight hits and three runs (two earned). The Tupelo native stuck out eight and walked one.
    All-American Caleb Reed closed out the Tigers to earn his 18th career save. Reed is now a perfect six-for-six in save opportunities this season.
    “Chris Stratton went out there and did what we need him to do on a Friday night,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “He threw strikes into the zone and attacked the batters. He only had one walk. That is what you need. Caleb Reed then comes in and slams the door after that.”
    The Bulldogs held a 4-3 lead in the home half of the eighth inning when Brownlee threw a strike to catcher Mitch Slauter to get the final out of the inning, taking out the potential game-tying run. A critical insurance score in the ninth gave Reed some breathing room, as he worked around a walk before completing the win.
    “Brent goes out there and guts it out today,” Cohen said. “He plays solid outfield for us and made a really great play there in the eighth inning. Those are the types of plays that win a game on a Friday night in this league. I am so proud of Brent. He came back a lot quicker than anyone thought.”

    The start of the contest was delayed an hour due to rain and again in the sixth inning 23 minutes for another shower.
    Each team scored twice in the first inning. The tie was broken in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly by Matthew Britton. MSU turned a pair of Auburn errors into a critical insurance score in the eighth inning. An RBI-single by Trey Porter placed the Maroon and White in good shape in the ninth inning.
    The Bulldogs finished with 10 hits, including three hits by Porter. Adam Frazier and Hunter Renfroe each added multiple hits. Sam Frost ran his hit streak to five games with a seventh-inning single.
    The series resumes at 3 p.m. Saturday.

    Gamecocks Earn 8-3 Win Over Vanderbilt

    Nashville, Tenn. – Christian Walker tallied his first two-homer game of his Gamecock career, senior left-hander Michael Roth allowed just three runs in six-plus innings of work to improve to 3-0 and junior right-hander Matt Price pitched three hitless innings of relief for his first save of the year as 10th ranked South Carolina defeated Vanderbilt 8-3 in the series opener at Hawkins Field.  South Carolina improves to 19-7 and 2-5 in the SEC while Vanderbilt drops to 10-16 and 2-5 in league play.  Friday’s game was played in front of a season-high 2,525 fans at Vanderbilt.

    Walker now leads the Gamecocks with five homers for the season.  He was 2-for-3 with three runs scored and three RBI for the evening.  Tanner English was 2-for-5 with a run scored as well.  Brison Celek drove in a pair of runs. 

    South Carolina starter Michael Roth allowed three runs on five hits in six-plus innings of work.  He walked one and struck out three. Price had five strikeouts and just one walk in three hitless innings of relief to pick up the save. Vanderbilt starter Kevin Ziomek allowed six runs on seven hits in 5.1 innings with four walks and six strikeouts in a loss for the Commodores.  He is now 2-4 for the season.

    Walker’s 200th career hit was a solo home run in the top of the first inning to give the Gamecocks a 1-0 lead.  Walker roped a 0-2 pitch from Ziomek over the left-centerfield wall.  He is the 25th player in South Carolina history with 200 or more career hits.

    With a 1-0 lead in the top of the third, the Gamecocks batted around and scored five runs to increase the advantage to 6-0 against the Commodores.  English led off with a bunt for a base hit and Adam Matthews followed with his own bunt single.  Evan Marzilli would drive in English with a RBI single up the middle.  Marzilli has reached base in all 26 games this year.  After a sacrifice bunt by Joey Pankake moved the runners into scoring position, Vanderbilt elected to intentionally walk Walker to load the bases for Celek.  With one out, Celek crushed a two-run double off the Green Monster wall in left field.  Erik Payne would add a sacrifice fly and LB Dantzler had a two-out RBI base hit.

    “It was good to see (five runs in the third), a great feeling (in the dugout) there,” said head coach Ray Tanner.  “We knew there were a lot of innings left.  We haven’t put up too many of those numbers.” 

    Vanderbilt responded in the bottom of the fourth inning with a pair of runs.  Anthony Gomez led off with an infield base hit and after advancing to second base on Pankake’s throwing error would score by Mike Yastrzemski’s RBI double.  Conrad Gregor would follow with a RBI base hit up the middle to make it 6-2.  Roth dug deep though and got a 4-6-3 double play against Spencer Navin and struck out Drew Fann to keep the Commodore run total at two runs.

    It remained that way until the top of the seventh inning when Walker struck with his second homer of the game.  After Joey Pankake led off with a base hit, Walker hit his second round tripper of the day, just clearing the Green Monster wall in left field.

    South Carolina held an 8-2 lead but Vanderbilt looked to rally one more time in the bottom of the seventh.  Gregor drew a leadoff walk, Navin singled and Drew Fann reached on a fielding error by Roth on a sacrifice attempt to load the bases with no outs for the Commodores.  Vince Conde drove in Gregor with a base hit up the middle to cut Carolina’s lead to five runs.  Into the game entered Price, who kept the Commodores at bay with a strikeout against Connor Harrell, another strikeout against pinch hitter Connor Castellano and a flyout by Tony Kemp to end the inning and preserve the five-run cushion.  Price would set Vanderbilt down in order in the bottom of the eighth and allowed just one out in the ninth and closed the game out with a 3-6-3 double play.

    “Roth gave us a quality outing,” added Tanner.  “He got into a little trouble there, we had to go to Matt (Price) but it was a good win for us on the road on Friday night.”

    Game two of the series is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.  It will be televised live on CSS and Time Warner Cable channel 506 in South Carolina and North Carolina.  It can also be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network from IMG College including flagship station, 107.5 FM “The Game.”  Freshman right-hander Evan Beal (1-2, 3.68 ERA) will make his first career start for the Gamecocks.  He will go against Vanderbilt freshman right-hander Tyler Beede (0-3, 6.46 ERA).

    No. 16 Rebels Shut Out No. 1 Florida In Series Opener


    OXFORD, Miss. – Sophomore right-hander Bobby Wahl worked a career-long eight innings and held the top-ranked Gators scoreless as No. 16 Ole Miss (19-7, 4-3 SEC) shut out No. 1 Florida (23-3, 5-2 SEC) with a 3-0 victory on Friday night.

    Wahl (5-0) limited the Gator offense to two hits on the way to the series opening win, walking three batters and striking out six while keeping Florida off the board. Only one Gator advanced past first base in Wahl’s time on the mound.

    Junior right-hander Brett Huber then picked up his sixth save of the season and 22nd of his career, working the ninth inning. After a lead-off triple from Daniel Pigott, Huber retired the next three Gator batters on a strikeout, fly out and a groundout to preserve the shutout for the Rebels.

    Hudson Randall (5-1) suffered his first loss of the season, allowing three runs on eight hits with a walk and four strikeouts in 6.0 innings of work.

    It was the second straight shutout for the Rebels who blanked Jackson State on Tuesday night and was the fifth shutout of the season for the Rebels.

    “I thought we played really well,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “Bobby (Wahl) was tremendous. He continued to make pitches even when it seemed like he fell behind. He was able to battle back and get into the strike zone.  He just pitched a terrific game. We’re proud of the way Brett (Huber) came in, and he knew it wouldn’t be easy after the last two weeks. He did what he was supposed to do. He threw the ball in the strike zone and he got ahead of all of the hitters.

    “We played a very clean game defensively and of course we were able to put the first inning together,” Bianco said. “Thankfully we were able to put the first inning together and we pitched really well.”

    The Rebels scored three runs in the first inning and it proved to be all Ole Miss would need as Wahl kept the Florida hitters in check and held Florida off the board through eighth before turning things over to Huber in the ninth.

    Tanner Mathis opened the Rebel first with a single and moved to second on a sac bunt from Austin Anderson. He then stole third before scoring on a single to right from Alex Yarbrough to get Ole Miss on the board. Matt Snyder then took an 0-2 pitch over the fence in right field to give the Rebels the 3-0 lead.

    It was the fourth home run of the season for Snyder and proved to be all of the runs Ole Miss needed in the Friday night pitcher’s duel.

    Ole Miss and Florida will take the field again for game two of the series at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.

    No. 12 LSU Posts 10-6 Win over Third-Ranked Arkansas

    BATON ROUGE, La. — The LSU offense exploded for three home runs and starter Kevin Gausman recorded career-high 12 strikeouts as the Tigers defeated No. 3 Arkansas by a score of 10-6 on Friday night at Alex Box Stadium.

    No. 12 LSU moved to 20-6 on the year and 4-3 in SEC play while Arkansas dropped to 22-4 and 5-2 in the conference. The two teams will return to action tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. Ryan Eades (4-1) will take the mound for the Tigers.

    The Tigers produced 17 hits Friday, as leftfielder Raph Rhymes, catcher Ty Ross and third baseman Tyler Hanover each delivered their first long balls of the season.
    The last time LSU hit three home runs in a contest was May 21, 2010 against Mississippi State.

    “I know everyone will focus on the three homers, but I thought we had several great at-bats that produced two-out RBIs,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “We really swung the bats well against the best pitching staff in the SEC.

    “Kevin Gausman really battled all night long and gave us a tremendous effort. Once we took the lead in the fourth inning, he raised his game to another level.”

    Rhymes, the SEC’s leading hitter, totaled four RBI. Second baseman JaCoby Jones registered a career-best four hits in the leadoff spot.

    Gausman overcame a rough  third inning in which he allowed five runs, but he did not allow a hit after the third. The sophomore’s ending line read 6.2 innings, five hits, five runs (five earned), two walks and a career-best 12 strikeouts.

    Arkansas starter DJ Baxendale (5-1) lasted 2.1 innings, allowing eight hits and five runs (five earned) with one walk and four strikeouts. Reliever Cade Lynch (0-1) was charged with the loss after entering the game in the bottom of the third. Lynch pitched 2.1 innings, allowing four runs (four earned) on five hits with one strikeout.

    LSU put two runs on the board in the bottom of the second. Shortstop Austin Nola led off the inning with a single just over the shortstop’s glove. Catcher Ty Ross executed a perfect hit-and-run with a single to right and Nola reached third easily after running on the pitch.

    Centerfielder Jared Foster smashed a two-out grounder through the left side of the infield, scoring Nola and moving Ross to second. Jones plated Ross on a single back up the middle and moved Foster to second.

    Arkansas took the 5-2 lead in the top of the third. Gausman struck out Jacob Morris and Tim Carver, but Carver reached first on a wild pitch. Bo Bigham punched a single under Hanover’s glove at third and Carver moved to second. Dominic Ficociello slashed a high pop up to center that Jones fielded, allowing Carver to advance to third.

    Matt Reynolds laced a double down the left field line, which scored both runners. Bates walked to put two runners on. Bleeker lined a triple to right field to score Reynolds and Bates, and Bleeker came home on a wild pitch.

    LSU knotted the game in the bottom of the third. Katz led off the inning with a single through the hole between third and short. Rhymes stepped up and blasted a towering home run to the left field bleachers.

    After Nola struck out, Ross crushed a solo shot to tie the game at 5-5. Lynch replaced Baxendale following Ross’s homer. Lynch retired Hanover and Didier to limit the damage.

    The Tigers took the lead in the bottom of the fourth. Dozar ripped a two-out double to right field before Katz plated Dozar on a single to left.

    LSU increased the lead to 10-5 in the bottom of the fifth. Hanover led off the inning with his first home run since May 21, 2010 versus Mississippi State.

    Jones lined a two-out single to right. Dozar nicked a single that neither the second baseman nor shortstop could make a play on. The hit chased Lynch, and new pitcher Colby Suggs plunked Katz to load the bases.

    Rhymes delivered a two-RBI single to left, which scored Jones and Dozar and moved Katz to second. Nola slashed a single up the middle and Katz raced home from second to widen the gap.

    Arkansas cut into the lead in the top of the seventh. After Gausman exited the game, Kevin Berry came in and allowed a single to Bigham. Ficociello plated Bigham on a double to center that a diving Foster attempted to corral. Chris Cotton entered the game for LSU and recorded the final out to end the threat.

    The Razorbacks almost cut into the LSU lead in the eighth. Cotton allowed a leadoff single to Bleeker, who moved to second on a wild pitch and to third on a ground out. Nick Rumbelow entered the game and fanned two to preserve the lead.

    Kurt McCune pitched a scoreless ninth to maintain the final margin.

    Georgia-Kentucky Postponed Due to Inclement Weather, Doubleheader Slated For Noon Saturday         

    ATHENS, Ga. - Due to inclement weather, the Kentucky-Georgia baseball series will feature a doubleheader Saturday beginning at noon. Game two of the series will begin at 4:05 p.m. and be televised by Fox SportSouth.

    Game one of the series between No. 25 Georgia and No. 10 Kentucky slated for Friday has been postponed. The Bulldogs are 17-9 overall and 3-3 in the SEC while the Wildcats are 25-1, 5-1 in the SEC.

    Fans holding a ticket for Friday’s postponed game can exchange that ticket for any remaining regular season game at Foley Field this year. Rainout tickets can be exchanged at the Foley Field Box Office while tickets are still available. Saturday’s tickets for the Georgia-UK baseball contest will be good for admission to both games of the doubleheader.