Baxendale pitches No. 13 Arkansas to series win
|Arkansas 8, Georgia 0
|South Carolina 6, Tennessee 1
|Alabama 6, Auburn 2
|Kentucky 8, Ole Miss 3
|Mississippi State 8, Vanderbilt 7
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas starting pitcher DJ Baxendale struck out seven and allowed just six hits over eight shutout innings to lead the 13th-ranked Razorbacks to an 8-0 series-clinching win over Georgia on Sunday afternoon at Baum Stadium.
The Razorbacks improve to 24-7 overall and 7-5 in the Southeastern Conference with the win, while Georgia drops to 19-13 and 5-7 in league play after the loss.
Baxendale (6-1) was outstanding on the mound for Arkansas en route to earning his sixth win of the season. The junior right hander threw a season-high eight shutout innings, allowing six hits and striking out a season-best seven without issuing a walk. Baxendale threw 109 pitches, 84 of those for strikes, in his eight innings of work.
Nolan Sanburn closed the win for Arkansas, striking out a batter in a scoreless ninth inning.
Georgia starter Pete Nagel (0-1) took the loss after allowing three runs on two hits in two-plus innings.
For the second straight game, the Arkansas offense produced a double-digit hit total, recording 11 hits in Sunday’s victory. Dominic Ficociello had a pair of hits, including his fourth homer of the season, and drove in three runs. Ficociello extended his hitting streak to eight straight games with his pair of hits. Jimmy Bosco and Matt Reynolds also added two hits and a RBI in the victory. Reynolds stretched his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 11 straight. Brian Anderson, Joe Serrano and Jacob Morris each contributed a hit and a RBI.
Brett DeLoach, Kyle Farmer, Levi Hyams, Colby May, Peter Verdin and Conor Welton each had one hit for the Georgia offense.
Arkansas struck first, scoring a run in the bottom of the second. Reynolds reached on an infield single to the shortstop to start the inning, but was retired at second base on a fielder’s choice ground out by Bosco. After Derrick Bleeker fouled out to right for the second out, Serrano and Jake Wise drew back-to-back walks to load the bases. Anderson then took four straight balls to force in a run for the game’s first run.
The Razorbacks stretched the lead to five with a four-run bottom of the third. Jacob Mahan was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and was along for the ride on Ficociello’s two-run blast over the bullpen in right field. The homer for Ficociello was his fourth of the season. Reynolds then drew a four-pitch walk and stole second base. A base hit to right by Bosco scored Reynolds to put Arkansas in front 4-0. With one out, Bosco advanced to second on a balk. Serrano then grounded a single up the middle that scored Bosco from second base.
Arkansas closed the scoring with a three-run bottom of the eighth. Anderson drew a lead-off walk and then advanced to second on a single to center by Tim Carver. Bo Bigham moved each runner into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Ficociello drove in his third run of the game with a single to right, scoring Anderson and moving Carver to third. A ground out to the shortstop by Reynolds scored Carver. Morris then reached on an infield single to the shortstop. Ficociello never stopped running on the play and was able to score all the way from second to put the Razorbacks in front 8-0.
Sanburn allowed a lead-off walk in the top of the ninth, but retired the next three batters to give Arkansas the victory.
Gamecocks Defeat Tennessee 6-1 To Clinch Series
Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina junior right-hander Colby Holmes allowed just one run on four hits in a season-high seven innings and the 10th ranked Gamecocks batted around for four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning on the way to a 6-1 victory over Tennessee to clinch a weekend series at Carolina Stadium. South Carolina is now 23-9 on the year with a 5-7 record in the SEC. The loss drops Tennessee to 20-12 and 6-6 in league play.
Holmes did not allow a run until a solo homer in the top of the seventh inning. He struck out six batters and walked none to improve to 4-0 on the year. Tennessee starter Nick Williams suffered the loss and is now 2-3 for the season. He allowed four runs, all unearned, on three hits with in 4.2 innings with three walks and three strikeouts. Gamecock freshman right-hander Evan Beal pitched two hitless innings of relief with two strikeouts and two walks to earn his fifth save of the season.
The first four innings were slow for both teams on Sunday as Holmes and Williams battled back and forth for the beginning of the game. The Gamecocks though found their offense in the bottom of the fifth as Joey Pankake reached base on a walk. LB Dantzler followed with a sacrifice bunt to advance Pankake but Dantzler was also able to make it first on a throwing error by Williams. Dante Rosenberg advanced the runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Carolina loaded the bases then with one out as Chase Vergason reached base on a walk. Williams struggled with his control and walked Tanner English scoring Pankake for the first run of the game. Evan Marzilli made it 2-0 with a sacrifice flyout to center. Matthews and Walker added RBI singles to score two more runs bringing the score to 4-0 for the Gamecocks.
Holmes continued his strong day by striking out two of three hitters in the top of the sixth. The Volunteers would finally get some offensive production in the top of the seventh inning as Tennessee’s Chris Fritts hits a solo home run to left field. Holmes would strike out the next batter after he surrendered the home run, tying a season high with six strikeouts.
The Gamecocks extended the lead to five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Walker was hit by a pitch to open the frame. With one out and Walker on second base, Joey Pankake then knocked a RBI base hit up the middle scoring Walker. Dante Rosenberg also contributed with a RBI double as a ball hit into right field was lost in the sun by UT right fielder Steve Weaver scoring Pankake and giving the Gamecocks a 6-1 advantage.
The Gamecocks finished the day with six runs on six hits and no errors made in the field. Matthews and Rosenberg each had two hits apiece to lead the Gamecocks at the plate.
Alabama Baseball Completes Sweep of No. 23 Auburn with 6-2 Win
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama baseball team completed the series sweep of in-state rival Auburn on Sunday with a 6-2 victory over the No. 23 Tigers at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Having won their fourth consecutive game, the Crimson Tide improves to 13-19 and 4-8 in the Southeastern Conference with their first SEC series win of the year. Auburn falls to 17-14 and 6-6 in the SEC.
The series sweep of Auburn marks the first time since 2002 that the Crimson Tide has swept the Tigers in a three-game series. It is also Alabama’s first sweep of an SEC team since a three-game sweep of Kentucky on March 25-27 of last year.
“We got another really good start from Jon Keller today,” UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “What I think was the key to the weekend was that we got some timely hits, going from Friday to today, we had Booth’s two-run homer that really got us going. But throughout the lineup, the at-bats were really competitive. We’re pressuring the defense a little more from an offensive standpoint. Then, we made some really good plays defensively today as well, and the pitching and the defense go hand-in-hand. We’re throwing more strikes and we’re defending the field much better as well.”
Alabama received another solid contribution from Taylor Dugas on Sunday, as the senior center fielder registered a 2-for-5, one run performance at the plate. Hunter Gregory tallied two runs, courtesy of a 2-for-4 hitting effort, while Brett Booth finished 1-for-2 with two runs and two RBI, including a two-run home run in the fifth inning.
UA starter Jon Keller (1-1) earned his first career victory, tossing 5.2 innings while allowing just one run on seven hits. Keller struck out a career-high six batters in his fourth career start for Alabama. Jake Hubbard didn’t allow a hit or a run in 1.2 innings to record his second save of the season. Auburn starter Daniel Koger (2-2) took the loss, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits in 5.0 innings.
Alabama outscored Auburn a combined 20-11 over the course of the three-game series, totaling a SEC-high 10 runs in the series opening victory on Friday. The Crimson Tide went yard in all three games, marking the first time this year Alabama has gone deep in three consecutive SEC games. The four-game winning streak equals the longest for the Crimson Tide this year.
Alabama struck first in the bottom of the second inning, capitalizing on an Auburn error to take an early 1-0 lead.
Ben Moore, who finished 2-for-4 with one run and one RBI on the day, led off with a single to extend his team-leading hitting streak to 11 games. After two quick outs, Moore attempted to steal second base and looked to be out on the play, but was ruled safe after the ball fell out of the glove of Tiger shortstop Dan Glevenyak. From there, Kenny Roberts drew a two-out walk, before James Tullidge’s RBI single brought Moore home from second to make it 1-0.
After a pair of scoreless innings, Alabama added to the lead in the bottom of the fifth courtesy of a two-run bomb by Booth. The junior catcher from Northport turned on the first pitch he saw, taking the ball over the left field wall for his team-leading third home run and team-leading 22nd and 23rd RBI of the season, giving the Tide a 3-0 advantage.
A home run in the top of the sixth inning by Tiger third baseman Justin Bryant cut the score to 3-1, but Alabama was able to answer right back an inning later with three runs in the bottom of the seventh to swell the advantage to 6-1.
Gregory and Dugas both reached to open the inning, pulled off a double steal to advance to second and third, respectively, then watched as Booth drew a one-out to walk to load the bases. Jared Reaves followed with a sacrifice fly to bring home Gregory for the first run of the inning, before Moore ripped an RBI single to left field to plate Dugas and make it 5-1. The Tide added another run later in the inning on a throwing error by the Tigers’ third baseman, allowing Booth to scoot home from third to push the lead to 6-1.
Alabama allowed Auburn to register a run in the top of the eighth, but avoided further damage thanks to some timely pitching and deft glove work. Freshman Jake Hubbard got the Tide out of a no-out, bases-loaded jam, giving up just one run after Alabama had already cycled through two relievers in the inning.
FLYNN’S SLAM GIVES NO. 1 UK SERIES WIN OVER NO. 10 OLE MISS
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Outfielder Cameron Flynn launched a grand slam in the sixth inning to erase a one-run lead and lift No. 1 Kentucky to a series-clinching 8-3 win over No. 10 Ole Miss, UK’s fourth consecutive league series victory, on a pleasant Sunday afternoon at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (30-3, 9-3 Southeastern Conference) continued its season of firsts with the series win, as the Wildcats won their first series over Ole Miss since the 2008 season, extended their school-record start to a season, achieved 30 wins quicker than any team in UK school history and have opened up its conference schedule with the best start in UK’s 79-year history in the league.
UK has started the season with four consecutive series wins in conference play, sweeping No. 2 South Carolina to open league play, winning road series tilts at No. 18 Georgia and at Tennessee and claiming the series victory over No. 10 Ole Miss for the first time five years.
With the Rebels owning a 2-1 lead after plating a run in the top of the sixth inning, the Wildcats began a furious rally to take the lead and secure the series. UK plated five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning – highlighted by the grand slam from Flynn.
UK starter Corey Littrell (5-0) worked his fifth quality start of the year and the ninth of his two-year career. The Louisville, Ky., native worked six innings, allowing nine hits and two runs, walking two and striking out four in his third consecutive Sunday rubber-match start. Senior Alex Phillips turned in a winning effort in his second save of the year, tossing three innings to close out the game, allowing two hits and one run, striking out three. In his two games this weekend – winning Friday night and saving Sunday’s clincher – Phillips worked 6.1 innings, allowing five hits and one run, walking one and striking out six.
The Wildcats plated eight runs on eight hits, drawing four walks and getting hit by two pitches. UK was led by Austin Cousino at the top of the order, who went 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored. Flynn delivered the big blow, adding a double and a walk with his four RBI, hitting his eighth homer of the year. Luke Maile also homered for the team-leading ninth time in 2012, batting 2-for-4 with two RBI. UK also got a hit from A.J. Reed, an RBI single late in the game. Michael Williams drew two walks, with Reed adding a walk and Thomas McCarthy and Brian Adams scoring runs.
Ole Miss (21-10, 6-6 SEC) starter R.J. Hively (3-2) worked five innings, allowing five hits and six runs, walking two and striking out eight, with the senior righty entering the game owning a 1.71 ERA. Aaron Greenwood worked 1.1 innings, allowing one hit and one run, walking one and striking out one. Dylan Chavez, Hatwin Buchanan and Tanner Bailey worked in relief for the Rebels.
UK will return to action with a non-conference showdown with rival, No. 18 Louisville on Tuesday at Cliff Hagan Stadium, with first pitch slated for 6:30 p.m. ET. The game will be televised by the UK IMG Network, with Dick Gabriel, Ryan Lemond and MLB Gold Glove winner Doug Flynn on the call. Fans can see the game live on Fox Sports South and on C-WKYT locally. It will also be broadcast on the UK IMG Radio Network, with fans in Central Kentucky able to listen to the game live on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
Ole Miss got going quick as leadoff batter Tanner Mathis led the Rebels off with a two-strike single up the middle. Auston Bousfield followed Mathis with a single to the left before Mathis advanced to third on a sacrifice fly by Yarbrough. Matt Snyder stepped up for the Rebels with a single through the right side to score Mathis and give the Rebels an early 1-0 lead. Littrell came back and got out of the first with minimal damage after forcing Allen into an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play.
Maile put the Wildcats on the scoreboard with a lead-off, solo home run over the leftfield wall to tie the game at 1-1. Flynn followed Maile’s solo shot with a double off the rightfield wall and after a fly out to center, Flynn advanced to third on a ground ball back to the pitcher. Ole Miss stranded Flynn on a diving play up the middle by second basemen Alex Yarbrough.
With one out in the top of the fifth, Ole Miss threatened with a double to left center from Mathis. Littrell fielded a ground ball back to him to retire the second out. Yarbrough walked to put runners on first and second with two outs but Littrell got out of the jam with a strike out on a nine pitch at bat by Snyder.
Will Allen led off the Rebels in the top of the sixth with a double down the leftfield line and advanced to third with one out after a sacrifice bunt by Overbey. Andrew Mistone knocked in Allen with a single to left and advanced to second on the throw to the plate. Littrell got out of the inning by forcing two straight groundouts but not before Ole Miss took a 2-1 lead.
Kentucky’s offense came alive in the bottom of the sixth after Cousino led off with a line-drive single to left. McCarthy was hit by a pitch and Reed walked to load the bases with no outs. Maile singled through the left side to score Cousino but Flynn cleared the bases with a grand slam over the rightfield wall, giving the Wildcats a 6-2 lead after a five-run sixth.
Phillips took the hill for the Wildcats to start the top of the seventh and Mathis led off the Rebels with a single through the left side. After a strike out, Yarbrough doubled off the leftfield wall to give Ole Miss baserunners on second and third. Phillips forced a Snyder ground out to second that allowed Mathis to score from third but Phillips stranded Yarbrough and closed out the inning with just one earned run allowed.
For a second consecutive inning, Cousino led off the Wildcats with a single in the bottom of the seventh before advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt by McCarthy. Reed earned his first RBI of the game with a single to rightfield, scoring Cousino from second and giving the Wildcats a 7-3 lead.
The Wildcats looked for insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth when Michael Williams walked with one out for Kentucky before Adams coming in to pinch run. A well-executed sacrifice bunt by Reida advanced Adams to second and Cousino tallied his third hit of the game with a double to left center that would score Adams and increase Kentucky’s lead to 8-3 entering the ninth.
MSU BASEBALL WINS SERIES FINALE FROM VANDERBILT
STARKVILLE, Miss. – On Easter weekend at Mississippi State University, designated hitter Daryl Norris was hiding hits all over Dudy Noble Field.
Norris’ two-out double in the home half of the ninth inning lifted the Bulldogs to a thrilling 8-7 win over the Vanderbilt Commodores in the final game of a three-game Southeastern Conference baseball series.
With the Sunday afternoon victory, MSU captured its first conference series of the year and also took its first series from Vanderbilt since 2005. The Bulldogs improved to 20-12 overall and 5-7 in league play, while the Commodores fell to 13-19 and 4-8.
“I was sitting on a fastball and just waiting on it,” Norris said. “The fact that (Vanderbilt pitcher Kevin Ziomek) also pitched Friday night really helped me there. It made me more prepared for what he was going to throw. I am still a little slow in the field (due to injury), but at the plate, I am fine.
“We needed that win really bad. It was a team effort. We had a lot of guys picking each other up. Down four runs, we didn’t lose confidence. We knew we had a lot of baseball left, it was a matter of staying there and continuing to battle. This was a very big series win.”
For the contest, Norris had three hits and three RBIs. For the series, Norris had six hits in 10 at-bats, with one double and four RBIs. After being sidelined with injury the past month, Norris provided the Bulldogs a huge spark while upping his batting average to a team-best .409.
“The story for the game is we go down four and the kids keep battling,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “We stayed positive and kept believing that we were going to find a way to get this done. A lot of people helped on the mound. You can’t say enough about Daryl Norris.
“He was at second base when we scored him earlier in the game. You are just locked in on that knee and you are thinking ‘Can he do this’? The things these players are doing are amazing. You could not be more proud of a group of guys who are playing hurt.”
Vanderbilt built a 4-0 lead with three runs in the third inning. Closer Caleb Reed drew his first start since 2010. Reed threw 56 pitches, while allowing five hits and four runs (three earned) in three innings of work.
Nick Routt worked the fourth and part of the fifth innings. Evan Mitchell finished the fifth inning and worked until one out in the ninth inning. Ross Mitchell, Taylor Stark and Luis Pollorena (1-0) combined to finish the ninth inning.
The Bulldogs rallied with three runs in the third inning. A two-run single by Wes Rea was the big blow in the inning. MSU pulled even at 5-5 on a two-run single by Norris in the fifth inning.
In the seventh inning, Hunter Renfroe placed the Bulldogs on top 7-6 with an RBI-single.
In the ninth inning, Anthony Gomez touched Stark for a game-tying RBI-single in the top half of the inning.
“There are little things, you wish you could have been a little better in the field and you wish you could have hit better in situations,” Cohen said. “But the story of the game is the courage our kids displayed to win a game we really needed.”
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Mitch Slauter drew a leadoff walk. After a strikeout and popout, Norris laced a 1-0 pitch to Ziomek (2-6) to right center for the game winner.
“Winning a series is big for us,” Evan Mitchell said. “We know we are as good, if not better, than the teams we have played. To finally get a series win, even though it came down to the wire, is really big for this team.”
The Bulldogs finished with 13 hits. Behind Norris’ three hits was Adam Frazier with two hits.