LSU Earns Thrilling 10-Inning Win Over South Carolina
|LSU 3, South Carolina 2 (10 Innings)
|Auburn 5, Florida 4
|Alabama 6, Georgia 4
|Mississippi State 11, Kentucky 3
|Vanderbilt 6, Ole Miss 3
|Arkansas 8, Tennessee 2
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COLUMBIA, S.C. – Pinch hitter Jackson Slaid delivered a two-out RBI single in the top of the 10th inning for the go-ahead run Saturday as fourth-ranked LSU posted a 3-2 victory over top-ranked South Carolina to claim at least a share of the 2012 SEC championship.
LSU concluded the regular season with a 42-14 overall mark, 19-11 in the SEC. The Tigers will share the league title with Kentucky if the Wildcats defeat Mississippi State in Starkville Saturday afternoon. If Mississippi State wins over Kentucky, LSU will become the outright SEC champions.
South Carolina is 39-15 overall and 18-11 in league play.
The SEC title for LSU is a league-best 15th in school history, and the Tigers’ second conference championship in four seasons.
LSU will begin play Wednesday in the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala. against an opponent to be determined. The conference office will release the 10-team tournament bracket Saturday night.
“What a resilient effort by our players; they’ve certainly earned the right to call themselves SEC champions,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “This team has overcome adversity all season and overachieved in a lot of ways. I’m extremely proud to be their coach – they’re young men of great character who represent our university the right way. To win the SEC title in this environment against the two-time defending national champions is a tremendous achievement.”
With the game tied 1-1 in the top of the 10th, LSU designated hitter Jordy Snikeris led off with a walk from South Carolina reliever Evan Beal, and Snikeris advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by third baseman Tyler Hanover.
Second baseman JaCoby Jones lined out to second base, and Beal intentionally walked shortstop Austin Nola, setting the stage Slaid, who was pinch hitting for centerfielder Arby Fields.
Slaid, facing reliever Tyler Webb, punched a 3-2 pitch into right field to score Snikeris with the go-ahead run. First baseman Mason Katz lined a Webb pitch into center field to score Nola and give the Tigers a 3-1 lead.
South Carolina Evan Marzilli doubled off of LSU closer Nick Goody to lead off the bottom of the 10th, and rightfielder Adam Matthews singled to put runners at the corners.
First baseman Christian Walker lined a sacrifice fly to reduce the Tigers’ lead to 3-2, but Goody, who earned his 10th save, retired third baseman LB Dantzler on a fly ball to right and catcher Grayson Greiner on a pop out to first to end the game.
LSU reliever Chris Cotton (6-0) earned the victory, firing three scoreless innings with no hits, one walk and four strikeouts. LSU starter Ryan Eades turned in an outstanding effort, limiting the Gamecocks to one run on seven hits in 5.1 innings with one walk and six strikeouts.
Beal (3-4) was charged with the loss as he surrendered two runs on no hits in 2.2 innings with two walks and one strikeout.
Fields doubled with one out in the first inning, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a groundout by Katz to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
South Carolina tied the game in the third as Marzilli tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Matthews, and the game remained knotted at 1-1 until the Tigers’ rally in the top of the 10th.
Seniors Lead Way In 5-4 Win Over No. 2 Florida In Finale
AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn’s senior class would not be denied in its final regular season game at Plainsman Park as the baseball team pulled out a 5-4 win over No. 2 Florida on Saturday. The win upped Auburn’s record to 30-26, 13-17 SEC while Florida dropped to 40-16, 18-12 SEC.
“Something special happened here today,” Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski said. “I am really proud of the way our kids responded. We were down several players today and the guys that stepped into those roles and played and contributed, that was special on this big day for all our seniors.”
Auburn honored its eight seniors (Zach Blatt, Caleb Bowen, Justin Bryant, Jon Luke Jacobs, Cory Luckie, Creede Simpson, Derek Varnadore and Ethan Wallen) before the game and then it was the senior’s turn to end the regular season on a high note.
Varnadore (4-7) logged seven full innings in his first start since April 20, allowing four runs (three earned) on 10 hits and two walks while striking out three. The righty was tagged for three runs in the second and an unearned run in the fourth but was helped out when the Auburn defense turned double plays in the sixth and seventh innings.
“I was just happy I had the opportunity today,” Varnadore said. “Coach (Pawlowski) told me last night that I was starting and I was excited I had the opportunity today to just go out there and throw. He told me to go as long as I can and just throw it. I felt pretty good about what I did but they (the rest of the team) got me the win today.”
Bryant followed Varnadore and picked up his sixth save of the season with two shutout innings and also drove in the winning run in the seventh before his trip to the mound. Facing Florida closer Austin Maddox with two in scoring position and two out, Bryant hit a hard single back up the middle that Florida second baseman Casey Turgeon dove for and stopped from going into the outfield. However, in Turgeon’s effort to get Bryant at first, Simpson, who was on second, never hesitated in rounding third, scoring what proved to be the winning run on the play.
Simpson, who grew up in Auburn and graduated from Auburn High School, also had the game-ending play, throwing a strike to Bowen behind the plate after a Brian Johnson fly out to right to nail Preston Tucker trying to score from third. Simpson, who started all 56 games at second, was moved to right in the top of the third after everyday right fielder Jay Gonzalez left with a sprained thumb following a diving attempt on a Florida double earlier in the game.
“I went out there (to right field) and there really wasn’t much action until the last inning,” Simpson said. “I saw the ball, realized it was shallow and just tried to get behind it and make a good throw. I knew it was on-line I was just worried that it would short-hop but it bounced perfectly and long-hopped to Bowen. He did a good job of catching that ball and putting the tag on.”
Simpson finished the game 0-for-4 with a run and a RBI while Bryant was 1-for-4 with a pair of RBIs.
Steven Rodriguez (3-2) took the loss for Florida, getting charged for all three of Auburn’s runs in the seventh.
Florida went single, double, triple in the second by Johnson, Daniel Pigott and Turgeon to go up two and then had a bases loaded, run scoring double play to take a 3-0 lead in the second.
Auburn answered with single runs in the second and third as Zach Alvord doubled in Patrick Savage in the second and Tanner Cimo, inserted at second after Simpson went to right, walked and scored on an error to make it a 3-2 game after three.
Florida regained a two-run lead, 4-2, in the fourth as Tobias singled and scored on a Tucker single.
The game remained a two-run Florida advantage until the seventh when Alvord and Self both singled to start the inning. A Simpson fielder’s choice made it a one-run game before Bryant’s two-out hit gave Auburn the lead.
Alabama Baseball Defeats Georgia, 6-4, to Win Season Ending Series
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama baseball team concluded the 2012 season with a 6-4 come-from-behind victory over the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. With the win the Crimson Tide completes the 2012 season 21-34 overall and 9-21 in the Southeastern Conference, taking its third SEC series of the year. The Bulldogs fall to 31-24 and 14-15 in SEC play.
Jon Kelton, who registered a 2-for-4, one-run, two-RBI day at the plate, drove home the game-winning runs in the bottom of the eighth inning with a two-out, bases-loaded single that broke open a tie game and gave Alabama a 6-4 lead heading into the ninth. Trey Pilkington came on to pitch a scoreless ninth frame and earn his second save of the year to give the Crimson Tide the series victory.
“I thought it was a good way for our seniors to go out,” UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “I’m certainly proud of the guys the last two nights. They showed a lot of character and with today it was nice to see Jon Kelton, a senior, step up and get that big hit for us.”
Jared Reaves, one of eight UA seniors playing in their last game, was 2-for-4, with a run, and two RBIs to finish as the Tide’s 2012 season-leader in RBI. Austen Smith contributed a 2-for-4, one-run, one-RBI effort, while Hunter Gregory and Brett Booth each finished 1-for-3 with a run scored.
Jay Shaw (1-1) earned his first victory of the season and the second of his career, pitching 1.2 innings of scoreless relief over the course of the seventh and eighth innings. Blake Deiterich (3-4) took the loss the Bulldogs.
Taylor Dugas, who finished the day 0-for-3 with a walk, closes out his tenure at UA as the all-time leader in career hits (334), singles (235), doubles (67), triples (18). Moreover, Dugas finished in the top-10 in 14 different statistical categories at Alabama during his four-year career, including third in runs with 232.
“Overall, the last two nights some good things happened,” Gaspard said. “I’m happy for our seniors, we get to leave today on a good note after a win.”
Georgia opened the scoring with a run in the top of the first to take a 1-0 lead at the game’s outset. UA starter Charley Sullivan retired the first two batters of the inning before allowing back-to-back walks, followed by a two-out RBI single from UGA second baseman Levi Hyams. From there, Georgia followed that up with two more runs in the third to push the score to 3-0 after three.
After Sullivan got out of two runners on, no-out jam in the top of the fourth, the Crimson Tide answered with a run in the bottom half of the inning to cut the margin to 3-1, before notching two more runs in the fifth frame to even the score at 3-3.
Kelton and Gregory got things going in the fifth with a back-to-back singles off UGA reliever Chase Hawkins. Following a Crimson Tide out, both Kelton and Gregory came around to score on Reaves’ one-out, two-RBI double – his team-leading 33rd and 34th RBI of the year – to tie the score at 3-3.
Georgia regained the lead in the seventh with an RBI fielder’s choice to make it 4-3, but the Tide was able to respond an inning later, registering three runs in the eight to take a 6-4. Alabama loaded the bases with one out before a wild pitch by UGA reliever Pete Nagel allowed Reaves to scoot home from third to tie the score at 4-4. After an out and a walk, Kelton came to the plate and ran the count full before lacing a line drive back up the middle to score Booth and Tullidge and give the Tide a 6-4 lead.
Pilkington came on to pitch a scoreless ninth to earn the series victory for the Crimson Tide, but the Bulldogs made it interesting as they loaded the bases with two-outs before Conor Welton flew out to left for the final out of the game.
MSU BASEBALL COMPLETES SWEEP OF NO. 2 KENTUCKY
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State closed out the regular season in grand style Saturday as the Baseball Bulldogs upset No. 2 Kentucky 11-2 to complete a three-game Southeastern Conference weekend series sweep.
The Bulldogs completed a series sweep of the Wildcats for the first time in 2001. MSU last completed the regular season with a sweep in 2004 when the Maroon and White beat Alabama three times in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
The victory allowed the Bulldogs to nail down the No. 7 seed in next week’s SEC Tournament. MSU will face No. 6 seed Arkansas in a first-round game of the 10-team tournament at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala. Ole Miss and Kentucky will meet at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, with MSU and Arkansas starting 30 minutes after that contest is completed.
The morning session of the tournament’s opening round will be broadcast by SportSouth. For fans not in the SEC region, the games may also be viewed online at ESPN3.COM. Complete tournament coverage may be found at RoadBeginsInHoover.com, the SEC’s official tournament home page.
With the victory, the Bulldogs complete the regular season at 34-21 overall and 16-14 in the Western Division. MSU finished in a two-way tie with Arkansas for second place in the Western Division and a three-way tie with Vanderbilt and Arkansas for fifth place in the overall standings. By virtue of the league’s tie-breakers, the Bulldogs drew the seventh seed.
For one, MSU head coach John Cohen is excited about the postseason.
“I’d like to think we can get on a roll and our kids are really confident, they should be,” Cohen said. “These kids really have the grind it out mentality that we ask of them. Everything that we’ve asked them to do, these kids have done to the highest level.”
The 16 conference wins mark the most for the ballclub since a 17-12 conference finish in 2003. The Bulldogs finish with a 28-8 ledger at Dudy Noble Field, which last happened when the 1997 squad finished with 28 home wins. The Bulldogs win five league series and compiled an 11-4 finish in the last 15 games, which is the best stretch to close a season since 1989.
“I feel like we can compete with anybody in the country,” Cohen said. “The whole thing is trying to get on a roll in tournament play.”
The Bulldogs were on a roll Saturday, pounding out 14 hits – their best hit total in league play this season. Sam Frost had three hits. Adam Frazier, Hunter Renfroe, Trey Porter, Demarcus Henderson and Wes Rea each had multiple hits. Frost had has second three-hit game, while Frazier had his 25th multi-hit game. Henderson had a career-high three RBIs.
“I just told myself that with guys being able to freeze me with curveballs and something inside that I wasn’t going to get beat that way,” Henderson said. “If anything my goal was simply to put the ball in play.”
The Bulldogs erased a 2-0 deficit with three runs in the fourth inning and five scores in the fifth inning – their best run-scoring inning in league play this season. UK ace Corey Littrell (8-1) was lifted in the fifth inning and took his first loss.
The unsung hero for the Bulldogs may have been Jacob Lindgren. In relief of starter Evan Mitchell, Lindgren (2-2) threw 5.1 innings, allowing three hits and one run, with seven strikeouts.
MSU tied the game on a bunt single by Henderson. Rea then slapped the go-ahead single. Henderson also had the big blow an inning later with a two-run single. Two UK errors also aided the cause.
Kentucky finishes the regular season at 41-15 overall and 18-12 in league play. The Wildcats lost the Eastern Division crown to South Carolina and the overall league title to LSU by being swept for the first time this season. Kentucky earned the fourth seed for its first-round matchup with Ole Miss.
A two-run single by Frazier highlighted MSU’s three-run seventh inning.
Vandy finishes sweep of Ole Miss
Nashville, Tenn. – Vanderbilt finished off a series sweep of No. 22 Ole Miss Saturday afternoon at Hawkins field with a 6-3 victory.
The game was delayed for two hours when a thunderstorm popped up as game time approached. After the storm passed, the Rebels (34-22, 14-16) wasted no time scoring a run in the first inning to take their first lead of the weekend. Vanderbilt (29-25, 16-14) immediately responded in the bottom of the first when Tony Kemp led off with a single. Kemp then stole second went to third on a throwing error and scored on a wild pitch to tie the game. The Commodores took the lead in the second on a Connor Harrell solo home run and widened the gap in the third on Riley Reynolds clutch two-run double down the right field line.
The Rebels scratched out a run in the fifth on a groundout to third to close within two runs before Anthony Gomez’s RBI-single in the sixth pushed the lead back to three runs. A two-out rally in the eighth added an insurance run for VU when Kemp singled, stole second and scored on Mike Yastrzemski double to deep center field. Ole Miss made it interesting in the ninth loading the bases to bring the tying run to the plate but Matt Snyder’s deep fly ball to right field fell just short of the wall and into Yastrzemski’s glove for the second out. The sacrifice fly scored a run and brought in Will Clinard, who struck out Will Allen to end the game and earn Clinard’s fourth save of the season.
Kevin Ziomek (4-6) picked up the win with five-plus solid innings, giving up two runs on seven hits and two walks. The lefty settled down after a rocky first inning to keep the Rebels off the scoreboard for the next three innings. Ole Miss starter R.J. Hively (5-5) took the loss allowing four runs, three earned, on six hits over 3.1 innings. Vandy freshman Brian Miller turned in 2.2 scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
Kemp led the way for the Dores’ offense with a huge day matching a season-best with four hits, stealing three bases and scoring three runs. The VU second baseman posted two doubles and a single in the win. Anthony Gomez and Conrad Gregor each added two hits with Gomez moving into sole possession of ninth place on Vanderbilt’s all-time hits list with 256 for his career. Tanner Mathis and Auston Bousfield paced the Rebels with three hits apiece.
Arkansas finishes sweep with 8-2 victory
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Arkansas broke a 2-2 deadlock with six runs over the final three innings as the Razorbacks completed a three-game sweep of Tennessee with an 8-2 victory on Saturday afternoon at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
With the win, Arkansas finishes the regular season with a 39-17 overall record and a 16-14 SEC record. Tennessee finishes its season with a 24-31 overall record and an 8-22 conference mark.
Depending on the result of the Vanderbilt-Ole Miss game, Arkansas will be either the fifth or the sixth seed in next week’s SEC Tournament, which begins on Tuesday, May 22, at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala. If Arkansas is the fifth seed it will play the final game of the day on Tuesday, approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of game three. If Arkansas is the sixth seed, it will play the second game of the day, approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one. The official bracket with seedings and first round matchups will be announced after all games are complete on Saturday.
The Razorbacks continued their hot hitting on Saturday, finishing the game with 13 hits, the team’s third double-digit hit game of the series. Brian Anderson, Dominic Ficociello, John Clay Reeves and Matt Vinson each had two hits to lead Arkansas. Anderson homered and drove in a game-high three RBI. Tim Carver went 1-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Bleeker also had a homer in the win, belting his third homer of the series and sixth round tripper of the season. Matt Reynolds had a single and was hit by a pitch to extend his streak of reaching base to 39 consecutive games.
Tennessee was led offensively by Davis Morgan, who had a pair of hits. Parker Wormsley accounted for both of the RBI for the Volunteers.
Arkansas reliever Colby Suggs (6-0) earned his sixth win of the season. Suggs retired all seven batters he faced in 2.1 innings. Tennessee reliever Conner Stevens (1-2) took the loss after giving up three runs, two earned, on four hits in 1.1 innings.
Razorback starter Randall Fant pitched well, but received a no decision. Fant threw four shutout innings, striking out three and giving up five hits.
Arkansas struck first with a run in the top of the first. Carver drew a leadoff walk to begin the game and then stole second with one out. A base hit to center field by Reynolds brought home Carver to put the Razorbacks in front.
The Razorbacks doubled the lead in the top of the fourth when Bleeker belted a solo homer over the wall in left field to stretch the lead to 2-0.
Tennessee tied the game with two runs in the home half of the sixth. Morgan singled to begin the inning and moved to second after Drew Steckenrider walked. Chris Fritts then hit a fly ball to the warning track in right-center field that was dropped by Anderson, allowing Fritts to reach and loading the bases. Chris Pierce hit a grounder back to Nolan Sanburn on the mound and he fired home to start a 1-2-3 double play for the first two outs of the inning. Wormsley was able to make sure the inning would not be scoreless for the Volunteers as he singled to right to score both runners and tie the game.
Arkansas regained the lead with three runs in the top of the seventh. Reeves started the inning with a double down the left field line. Vinson then reached on an infield single to short with pinch runner Conor Costello advancing to third. A base hit to right by Carver scored Costello with the go-ahead run. Vinson was then picked off second and caught in a run down for the first out of the inning with Carver advancing to second during the run down. A base hit to left by Ficociello advanced Carver to third. The UT catcher tried to throw Ficociello out at second, but his throw was low and allowed Carver to score from third on the throwing error. With two out, pinch hitter Michael Gunn walked to put runners on first and second. A base hit to left field by Anderson brought home Ficociello to put Arkansas in front 5-2.
The Razorbacks added another run in the eighth. Jake Wise doubled with one out and then took third on a wild pitch. After a walk to Vinson, Carver grounded into a fielder’s choice to second with Wise scoring on the play.
Arkansas closed the scoring with two runs in the ninth. Reynolds was hit by a pitch to begin the inning and was along for the ride on Anderson’s two-run homer with one out in the inning.