SEC Baseball Today: May 4 > SEC > NEWS
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    SEC Baseball Today: May 4

    Tennessee 8, Vanderbilt 2
    Georgia 5, Auburn 2
    Mississippi State 3, Alabama 1
    Florida 5, Kentucky 1
    South Carolina 8, Arkansas 6
    LSU 4, Ole Miss 3

    Complete Team Effort Lifts Vols Past Vanderbilt, 8-2

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Sophomore Nick Williams struck out eight in a career-high 8.2 innings, Drew Steckenrider tied the school record with four doubles while knocking in four runs and Ethan Bennett launched his third home run of the season as Tennessee cruised past Vanderbilt, 8-2, in the series opener on a beautiful Friday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

    “I am very proud of our guys, there is no doubt,” UT head coach Dave Serrano said. “They have been down in the dumps. We have strung together a lot of losses, and they needed this tonight. It couldn’t have come against a better opponent and it is against a team we are fighting for a playoff berth with.

    “The team stepped up today, but Nick Williams did a fabulous job. Obviously Drew Steckenrider offensively too, and the lineup functioned well tonight with productive outs. It feels good to get in the win column again because it seems like a long time since we have been able to do that.”

    Williams (3-4) retired 12 of the last 13 batters he faced before handing the ball to Conner Stevens for the game's final out. He allowed just two runs on six hits in the best start of his collegiate career.

    Steckenrider finished 4-for-5 at the plate with a personal-best four RBIs and a school-record tying four doubles. Josh Liles is the only other Vol to accomplish the feat, doing so against Charlotte on April 2, 2008.

    He was the only UT player with a multi-hit contest, however, as six of the team’s other eight starters had a hit and eight different players scored one run each in the victory.

    T.J. Percoraro (0-3) suffered the loss for the Commodores, allowing three runs on three hits and three walks in 4.2 innings

    Tennessee now has at least one win against half of the field from last year’s College World Series with triumphs over Texas, South Carolina, Florida and now Vanderbilt this season.

    “I think it was a collective effort tonight,” Serrano said. “I tell the truth all the time and I told the team before the game that I am at the front of the ship and we have sunk. All we can do is come back to the top. Hopefully they bought into that and there is nothing to dwell on anymore. All we can do is go forward and go up and they played like that.

    “We played with some confidence tonight. I saw some guys in the dugout having some fun and enjoying success with their teammates. That is what we have to do, no matter how many games we have left to play.”

    VU actually got on the scoreboard first on Friday night with a solo shot to right by Mike Yastrzemski in the opening frame, but the Vols got the tally right back thanks to a two-out rally in the home half of the inning. Davis Morgan got the ball rolling with a five-pitch walk before Steckenrider brought him home all the way from first with a double high off the wall in right-center.

    The Commodores regained the lead in the very next stanza, however, as Jack Lupo came through with a two-out RBI single through the left side to make it 2-1.

    Tennessee had a chance to even the score in the fourth inning, putting a runner on third with just one out after a leadoff double by Steckenrider and a groundout, but couldn't cash in. The next batter hit a sharp groundball to short and Steckenrider took off on contact. Unfortunately a perfect throw to the plate gunned him down for the second out and a flyball two batters later ended the frame.

    The Vols exploded for three runs in each of the next two innings though, grabbing a 7-2 lead in the process. With one out in the fifth, Will Maddox reached on a hit by pitch and promptly stole second on the first pitch to Zach Osborne. Osborne then ripped a double to right-center to tie the contest at 2-2.

    That would end VU starter T.J. Percoraro's night and Steckenrider greeted Commodore reliever Brian Miller with his third double of the evening, plating Osborne from second. Just two pitches later, Chris Pierce punched a single to center to drive in the third run of the inning.

    Leading 4-2, the Vols were not satisfied and quickly added three more to the scoreboard in the sixth. After a leadoff HBP by Chris Fritts, Bennett launched a two-run home run on to "The Porch" in left.

    The next three batters then reached base as Parker Wormsley singled to left, Maddox laid down a bunt single and Osborne reached on a sac bunt thanks to a throwing error by Miller. With the bases loaded and one out after a strikeout, Steckenrider drove in his third run of the contest with a groundout to short which put Tennessee up by a commanding 7-2 score.

    The Vols finished off the scoring with another run in the eighth as Morgan and Steckenrider ripped two-out doubles on back-to-back pitches to put the tally on the scoreboard at 8-2.

    Tennessee head men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin got the day off to a good start, firing in the ceremonial first pitch before the contest.

    The Big Orange will go for the series win at 1 p.m. on Saturday when they will send freshman Robbie Kidd (2-2, 5.01) to the mound. The Commodores will counter with a freshman of their own in Tyler Beede (1-4, 4.18). The contest will be televised on CSS with Mike Morgan and former Vol Rusty Ensor on the call.

    Georgia Beats Auburn 5-2


    Athens, Ga. - Georgia got eight strong innings from Alex Wood and some help from the Auburn bullpen to win the opening game of an SEC series 5-2 Friday at Foley Field.

    Georgia (26-20, 10-12) scored four runs without the benefit of a hit in the sixth to break a 1-1 tie. The Tigers (25-20, 10-12 SEC) issued two bases-loaded walks, hit a batter with the bases loaded and a ground out allowed another run to score.

    It was more than enough for Wood who struck out 10 and allowed two runs on four hits to improve to 6-1. Auburn right hander Jon Luke Jacobs (5-2) got the loss but pitched 5.1 innings allowing just three hits and two runs.
    In the third, Georgia went on top 1-0. With one out, senior Colby May walked, next left fielder Connor Welton ripped a single to right field to put runners on the corners with junior third baseman Curt Powell at the plate.  Powell blooped a single over the head of the first baseman to give Georgia a 1-0 lead, while also extending his hitting streak to 14 games.

    In the fifth the Bulldogs were threatening again.  With two outs, second baseman Levi Hyams was on third, Welton hit the ball hard to left center.  Auburn’s left fielder Cullen Wacker and center fielder Ryan Tella went for the ball, Tella, running full speed, dove for the ball, but collided with Wacker.  Wacker made the catch the for the third out, but both players were down for several minutes. Fortunately, both players were able to walk off the field.  Wacker suffered a strained knee and he did not return to the game.

    In the sixth Auburn equaled the score.  After Wood retired the first two batters, first baseman Garrett Cooper singled to center and pinch-hitter Justin Bryant reached on a walk.  Shortstop Dan Glevenyak shot a single past a diving Powell and into left field, scoring Cooper and making the score 1-1.

    After 5.1 innings, Georgia chased Auburn starter Jon Luke Jacobs once he gave up an infield single to junior shortstop Kyle Farmer. Later that inning Auburn’s bullpen allowed four walks and one hit by a pitch giving Georgia a four-run lead.  Right hander Slade Smith came in to relieve Jacobs, the first batter he faced, right fielder Hunter Cole, singled to left field, then junior catcher Brett DeLoach walked to load the bases.  Freshman Justin Bryan then walked to give the Bulldogs a lead again; next Smith continued to struggle with his control as he hit center fielder Peter Verdin with a pitch, allowing Cole to score.  Verdin was the last batter Smith faced—he finished with one hit, two walks and three earned runs—relieving him was left hander Cory Luckie.  With the bases still loaded, Hyams grounded into a fielder’s choice for the second out of the inning, but DeLoach scored on the play.  Luckie then walked back-to-back batters giving Georgia another run to make the score 5-1. 

    Auburn picked up another run in the eighth and then Georgia looked to freshman Pete Nagel who came in the ninth and took care of the Tigers. He picked up the first save of his career with two strikeouts and pitched around an error.

    “I thought Alex Wood did a very good job and Pete came in and threw strikes too,” said Georgia coach David Perno. “We managed to have a big inning without getting a hit, but I’ll take it. We have a tough time getting that big hit or double with the bases loaded, but it was good to see us score four runs. I was impressed with our outfield play, that is the group we had out there in the fall and we tried some different combinations for various reasons during the season but now it looks like that’s the best one and we’ll stick with Conor (Welton) in left, Peter (Verdin) in center and Hunter (Cole) in right.”

    The series continues Saturday with first pitch slated for 4:05, and the game will be televised by CSS. Before the game, the Bulldogs will honor their former baseball lettermen.

    MSU Baseball Takes Opener at Alabama

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Seven innings of shutout pitching by Chris Stratton helped pace the Mississippi State baseball team to a 3-1 win over Alabama in the opening game of a weekend Southeastern Conference series at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
    Stratton became the first SEC pitcher to win nine games this season, while the Bulldogs won a conference series opener for the sixth time in eight weekends. With the win, MSU improved to 28-17 overall and 11-11 in league play, while Alabama fell to 17-29 and 6-16.
    “Obviously, Strat came in and did a phenomenal job tonight for us, but I think the secret is out on him that Friday night in the SEC, they’re not going to get to two strikes,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “They’re going to take weaker swings and put balls in play, so he’s got to be a little more economical with his pitches.”
    Stratton (9-0) allowed seven hits and, with six strikeouts and no walks. Ross Mitchell, Caleb Reed, Jacob Lindgren and Jonathan Holder combined to pitch the final two innings, with Holder getting the Bulldogs’ 53th double play ball of the season for his second save.
    “With Jonathan Holder, you talk about a kid that doesn’t get sped up,” Cohen said. “He is a 19-year-old freshman in the best league in America and he does a phenomenal job. We got to get him a little more opportunities like that. That’s exactly what we wanted to do in the ninth.”
    The Bulldogs built a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning. Trey Porter reached as a hit batsman. Porter then took second on a wild pitch and moved to third on balk call. A groundball by Daryl Norris brought home the run. Hunter Renfroe followed with a double but was stranded at third base.
    An inning later, the Maroon and White ran the lead to 3-0. Tyler Fullerton began things with a double and was followed by Sam Frost, who hit a single. Adam Frazier followed with an RBI-single. Mitch Slauter lined a sacrifice-fly to cap the scoring in that at-bat.
    Even on not his best night, that offense would be more than enough for Stratton and friends.
    “I really don’t feel like I had my best stuff tonight but I had a couple jam shots that got through,” said Stratton, who became the 12th Bulldog to record 100 strikeouts in a season. “The key was continuing to compete and get through the game. It’s a been there, done that type of deal. I have total confidence in everything that (catcher) Mitch (Slauter) calls.”
    Alabama broke up the shout in the eighth inning when Ben Moore touched Ross Mitchell for an RBI-single. Reed only needed two pitches to work the Bulldogs out of that jam. An inning later, Holder got a 3-2 pitch double-play ball with runners at first and third to snuff the final threat.
    MSU finished with seven hits. Frazier and Fullerton each had multiple hits. For Frazier, it was his 20th multi-hit game of the season.
    Alabama finished with 11 hits. Taylor Dugas, Moore and Josh Rosecrans each had multiple hits for the Crimson Tide. Starting pitcher Spencer Turnbull (2-4) was lifted in the sixth inning and took the loss.
    The series resumes at 2:05 p.m. Saturday.

    No. 5 Florida Clinches Series With 5-1 Win Over No. 6 Kentucky


    LEXINGTON, Ky. – No. 5 Florida (35-12/14-9 SEC) snapped a 1-1 tie on an RBI single by freshman Josh Tobias (Greensboro, N.C.) in the eighth inning and then tacked on three insurance runs in the ninth to post a 5-1 victory over No. 6 Kentucky (36-11/14-9 SEC) on Friday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium. With the triumph, the Gators have clinched the weekend series and moved into a tie with the Wildcats in the league standings. Co-leaders No. 3 South Carolina (34-11) and No. 4 LSU (36-10) are still in action and were each 14-7 in SEC play entering tonight.

    Deadlocked at a run apiece entering the eighth, freshman Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) (3-for-4) started the frame with a triple to deep right field, his second three-bagger of the year. After UK junior starter Jerad Grundy (4-2) had freshman Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) ground out, Tobias sent a 2-2 pitch into right center field to score Turgeon and give Florida the advantage.

    UF added three important runs in the ninth on a sacrifice fly by junior Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.), a pinch-hit RBI single by senior Jeff Moyer (Winter Springs, Fla.) and a sacrifice fly by Shafer. Senior Preston Tucker (Tampa, Fla.) drew a leadoff walk from senior Alex Phillips and junior Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) notched his SEC-leading 19th double off the wall in left field to put the Gators in business. Johnson lofted a sacrifice fly to center field that brought in Tucker and Moyer came through with a pinch-hit single off junior reliever Tim Peterson to bring across Zunino for a 4-1 lead. Turgeon singled into left field off freshman A.J. Reed for two runners aboard and one out and the Gators executed a double steal for a pair of men in scoring position. A sacrifice fly by Shafer to right field scored Moyer to finalize the 5-1 count.

    After sophomore righty Karsten Whitson (Chipley, Fla.) limited the Wildcats to one run over 4.2 innings, the Gator bullpen tossed 4.1 innings of scoreless ball to secure the win. Senior Greg Larson (Longwood, Fla.) entered the contest in relief of freshman Bobby Poyner (Wellington, Fla.) (1.0 IP, 2 H) in the sixth inning with the bases full and two down and had a grounder by senior Thomas McCarthy force freshman Austin Cousino at second base to end the threat. Larson worked 1.1 innings to improve his season ledger to 6-0 and junior Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) set down Kentucky in order in both the eighth and ninth innings and had a couple of strikeouts to record his second save in as many nights. The Wildcats left 10 runners on base in suffering their fourth-straight defeat and dropped an SEC series for just the second time this year.

    The Gators seized a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI single by Tucker off Grundy. Junior Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) opened the game with a double into right field and was sacrificed to third by senior Daniel Pigott (Ormond Beach, Fla.). Tucker sliced a base-hit through the right side to break the ice in the opening frame for the second-straight night.

    Kentucky answered in the bottom of the frame on a game-tying single into left field by junior Luke Maile (2-for-4) off Whitson. Leadoff batter Cousino was hit by a pitch and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. McCarthy drew a four-pitch walk and Maile delivered a single into left field that scored Cousino. Whitson had redshirt junior Cameron Flynn fly out to center field, a fielder’s choice by junior Zac Zellers force McCarthy at third base and a grounder by sophomore J.T. Riddle retire the side.

    Whitson retired the first two Kentucky hitters in the second before sophomore Matt Reida beat out a bunt single and Cousino earned a free pass. The right-hander struck out McCarthy to end the inning.

    Maile began the Wildcats’ third at bat with a single into left field but was erased on a fielder’s choice by Flynn before Whitson induced an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play on a ball hit by Zellers.

    Riddle led off the home part of the fourth with a single into left center but Whitson made a nice grab of a ball hit by senior Michael Williams and threw out the lead runner at second base. Sophomore Paul McConkey (2-for-3) singled into left field to move Williams into scoring position. Whitson fanned Reida but a wild pitch enabled Williams to take third and McConkey to occupy second base. An intentional walk to Cousino loaded the bases with two down and Whitson had McCarthy ground out to strand the runners.

    Whitson registered the first two outs in the fifth and Zellers doubled off the wall in right center to prompt a pitching change. Over 4.2 innings, Whitson scattered six hits and permitted one run, with three walks and a pair of strikeouts. Poyner took over on the mound and Zellers swiped third before the left-hander had Riddle ground out.

    Williams started the sixth with a double down the right-field line and McConkey followed with a bloop single into right field for runners on the corners. A grounder by Reida was fielded by Johnson, who fired a strike home to Zunino to nail Williams at the plate. A fielder’s choice by Cousino forced Reida at second base and left the Wildcats with runners on the corners and two down. Larson replaced Poyner and had a grounder by McCarthy to Fontana erase Cousino at second to preserve the stalemate.

    Flynn was hit with one down in the seventh but was gunned down attempting to steal second base. Larson had Zellers ground out to Tobias to keep the game tied at that point.

    The teams will wrap up the series tomorrow at 2 p.m., when Johnson (5-3, 4.50) will oppose sophomore Corey Littrell (6-0, 2.44) in a matchup of lefties. The game will be carried on WRUF-TV, channel 6 on the Cox Communications cable system in Gainesville/Ocala.

    Gamecocks Rally for 8-6 Win Over Arkansas

    Fayetteville, Ark. –Trailing 6-0 after three innings, third ranked South Carolina stormed back to score eight unanswered runs on the way to an 8-6 victory in 10 innings over Arkansas on Friday evening in the series opener at Baum Stadium.  Evan Marzilli drove in the winning run with a RBI double and would score an insurance run on Grayson Greiner’s RBI base hit.  South Carolina improves to 35-11 and 15-7 in the SEC while the loss drops Arkansas to 33-14 and 11-11 in league play.  South Carolina has won 12 straight conference games.  Game two of the series is scheduled for Saturday, May 5 at 1 p.m. ET and will be televised live on ESPN2.  It can also be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network from IMG College.

    Freshman right-hander Evan Beal earned the win and is now 3-3 on the year.  He hurled three scoreless innings of relief with just one hit allowed.  Junior right-hander Matt Price hurled a perfect 10th inning to pick up his seventh save of the year, his sixth in SEC play.  Arkansas reliever Barrett Astin suffered the loss and is now 2-4 on the year.  He allowed two runs on three hits in 2.1 innings with two walks and two strikeouts.

    With the Gamecocks behind 6-0 entering the top of the fourth, the rally would begin as Carolina cut the deficit in half. Marzilli had a bunt for a base hit and Christian Walker drew a walk to open the frame.  LB Dantzler drove in Marzilli with a double to right field.  With runners in scoring position, Grayson Greiner and Kyle Martin would drive in the next two runs on a pair of sacrifice flies.

    The Gamecocks tied it at 6-6 in the top of the sixth inning.  Dantzler opened the inning with a base hit to right field, his second hit of the evening.  Greiner would then square up a pitch from Arkansas starter Ryne Stanek for a home run to left field, his sixth homer of the season and the first home run allowed all year by the Arkansas right-hander.  Trailing by a run, the Gamecocks loaded the bases as Tanner English was hit by a pitch, Matthews had a bunt for a base hit and Chase Vergason singled to the gap in left-center.    Joey Pankake would drive in English with a sac fly to right field that tied the game.

    It stayed that way until the 10th inning, when the Gamecocks made their move.  Joey Pankake reached base on a single up the middle.  On the play, he would move into scoring position as Arkansas shortstop Tim Carver threw wide of first base trying to nab Pankake.  With Pankake in scoring position, Marzilli drove a RBI double into the gap in left-center that gave Carolina a one-run lead.  After a two-out walk to Dantzler gave the Gamecocks two runners on base, Greiner gave Carolina insurance with a single up the middle.  Hustling all the way from second base, Marzilli reached home as Arkansas catcher Jake Wise could not come up with the thrown from Carver allowing Marzilli to score.  With an 8-6 lead, Price navigated through the heart of the Arkansas order recording three consecutive outs to seal the victory.

    The Gamecocks had 13 hits while Arkansas had just seven for the evening.  Greiner was 2-for-4 and tied a season-high with four RBI.  Pankake, Marzilli, Dantzler and Matthews also had two hits apiece.  Matt Reynolds went 3-for-4 to lead Arkansas at the plate.

    The Razorbacks were aggressive early and broke ahead 3-0 in the bottom of the first inning.    Carver led off with a single and Jacob Mahan reached base on a fielding error by Gamecock second baseman Chase Vergason, as a high chopper off the bat could not be gloved cleanly.  With bases loaded and one out, Jimmy Bosco laced a RBI single into right field that scored.  Brian Anderson would then drive in the third run of the frame on a fielder’s choice as the Gamecocks just missed completing a 6-4-3 double play.

    The Razorbacks extended the lead to 5-0 in the bottom of the second inning.  Bo Bigham led off with a single and Jacob Morris drew a one-out walk.  After a double steal advanced the runners into scoring position, Craver drove in Bigham with a RBI groundout and Mahan tallied a two-out RBI single through the right side scoring Morris.  Arkansas made it 6-0 in the third inning as Reynolds hustled all the way from second base on a lineout of the bat of Anderson to deep right-center to score the Razorbacks’ sixth run of the game.

    Dozar Lifts LSU to 13-Inning Win Over Ole Miss

    OXFORD, Miss. – Designated hitter Grant Dozar’s RBI single in the top of the 13th inning Friday night lifted fourth-ranked LSU to a 4-3 win over No. 24 Ole Miss at Swayze Field.

    LSU improved to 37-10 overall and 15-7 in the SEC. The Tigers are tied with South Carolina for first place in the overall league standings, and LSU has a four-game lead over Arkansas in the SEC Western Division. Ole Miss dropped to 30-17 overall and 10-12 in conference play.

    The series resumes at 2 p.m. CT Saturday with sophomore right-hander Ryan Eades starting on the mound for LSU. Ole Miss will counter with sophomore right-hander Bobby Wahl.

    Dozar was 2-for-5 on the night with a homer and two RBI. His solo blast with two outs in the top of the eighth tied the game at 3-3.

    The Tigers finally broke the tie in the top of the 13th when Ole Miss reliever R.J. Hively issued a one-out walk to leftfielder Raph Rhymes, and Rhymes moved to third on a single by first baseman Tyler Moore. Dozar lined a grounded a Hively pitch deep in the hole at shortstop, allowing Rhymes to score the go-ahead run.

    Junior right-hander Nick Goody earned his ninth save, pitching around a one-out walk to preserve the win. Junior right-hander Joey Bourgeois (2-2), the fifth of six LSU pitchers, was credited with the win as he pitched a scoreless 12th inning, allowing one hit with two walks and a strikeout.

    LSU is now 10-3 this season in SEC games decided by one run. The Tigers improved to 3-1 on the year in extra-inning games.

    “This was a tremendous team victory,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “I thought our players showed great poise in a very difficult place to play. I’m so happy for Grant Dozar, a senior who means so much to our team. He delivered twice in clutch situations, and our pitching kept us in the game until Grant finally got us the big hit.

    Hively (4-4) was charged with the loss, as he allowed two runs on four hits in six innings with two walks and six strikeouts.

    LSU grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the second on a solo homer by first baseman Tyler Moore, his third dinger of the season.

    The Tigers extended the advantage to 2-0 in the third when shortstop Austin Nola singled, moved to second on rightfielder Mason Katz’s groudout and scored on a single by Rhymes.

    Ole Miss narrowed the gap to 2-1 in the sixth on an RBI single by leftfielder Tanner Mathis, and the Rebels took the lead with two runs in the seventh.

    First baseman Matt Snyder opened the seventh with a solo homer, his 11th dinger of the year, and centerfielder Austin Bousfield delivered a sacrifice fly.

    LSU, however, tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the eighth on Dozar’s homer, his third of the season.

    Both starting pitchers turned in effective outings – LSU right-hander Kevin Gausman allowed three runs on six hits in 7.2 innings with no walks and four strikeouts, while Ole Miss right-hander Bobby Wahl limited the Tigers to two runs on seven hits in seven innings with two walks and six strikeouts.