GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- All-America southpaw Corey Littrell fired eight one-run innings and Micheal Thomas belted a three-run homer in the second inning, leading No. 9 Kentucky to a 6-2 win over Florida, its first series win at UF in 15 years and just the third in program history, on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in front of 3,284 at McKethan Stadium.
In a series that dates back to 1953, Kentucky (16-2, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) had only won three, three-game weekend series in Gainesville, in 1973, 1975 and 1999. After UK fell 6-1 in the series opener on Friday, UK rebounded to even the series with an 11-5 win on Saturday, before posting the rubber-match win on Sunday.
Littrell (3-0) turned in his fourth quality start and the 18th of his career. The Louisville, Ky., native worked eight innings, scattering 10 singles for one run, not allowing a walk and striking out seven, including striking out the top of the order in the seventh. With the decision, Littrell earned his 18th career win, moving into a tie with Doug Sutton (1986-88) for ninth place all-time in UK career history.
In Littrell’s last two seasons, the southpaw has made nine starts in series-deciding rubber matches, with UK winning all nine games and the junior posting a 7-0 record and a 1.92 ERA.
Trevor Gott came on to get the final three outs of the game and seal the series win for the Wildcats, allowing a run on three hits.
The Wildcats were led by two-hit games from Austin Cousino, A.J. Reed, J.T. Riddle and Matt Reida, as UK pounded out 12 hits, drew three walks and was hit by one pitch. Thomas belted his first homer of the year – a three-run job in the second inning that game UK a lead – with UK also getting hits from Zac Zellers, Jeff Boehm and Kyle Barrett.
Florida (9-11, 1-1 SEC) starter Eric Handhold (0-1) worked 3.2 innings, allowing 10 hits and five runs, walking one and striking out three. Lefty Daniel Gibson replaced him in a two-out jam in the fourth, working a career-high 3.1 innings, not allowing a hit and walking two with three strikeouts. Mike Vinson worked two shutout innings in relief of Gibson.
UK got on the board in the top of the second, as Boehm drew a four-pitch walk with one out and Barrett smacked a single off the glove of Handhold on the mound. Thomas then smashed a no-doubt three-run homer over the stands in leftfield to give UK a 3-0 lead.
The Wildcats plated a run in the third inning to stretch their lead to 4-0. Reed led off with a single to rightfield, with Kuhn replacing him at first on a fielder’s choice. UK then executed a hit-and-run with Riddle, who singled to leftfield, with Max Kuhn out at third base trying to motor headfirst into the bag. Boehm then smashed a double off the leftfield wall, allowing Riddle to score from first.
In the fourth inning, UK added a run, as Reida doubled to leadoff, taking third on a well-placed groundout from Cousino. Zellers then singled through the left side with the infield in to score Reida and give UK a 5-0 lead.
The Gators got on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning, as Connor Mitchell singled to lead off and was erased on a 4-6-3 double play. Harrison Bader followed with an infield single that sent Reida deep into the hole. After a Justin Shafer single pushed Bader to third base, Vickash Ramjit singled to leftfield to score Bader.
UK added a run in the eighth, as Barrett drew a walk to leadoff, taking second on Thomas’ sacrifice bunt. Reida then smashed a single through the right side to score Barrett and give UK a 6-1 lead.
Florida got a run in the ninth for the final margin. Cody Dent singled with one out and scored on Justin Shafer’s two-out RBI single up the middle.
NO. 6 OLE MISS TAKES SERIES FROM NO. 11 ARKANSAS IN 13 INNINGS
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – It took 13 innings and almost everyone on the bench, but the Rebels made the plays when needed as No. 6 Ole Miss (20-2, 2-1 SEC) rallied to force extra innings on the way to a 6-4 win over No. 11 Arkansas (14-7, 1-2 SEC) Sunday at Baum Stadium.
Tied at four heading into the 13th inning, the Rebels got things started with a leadoff walk from Tanner Mathis. Auston Bousfield then put down a sac bunt and the Razorbacks went for Mathis at second, but bounced the throw in behind Mathis who advanced safely as Bousfield reached first safely.
Austin Anderson then lay down another sac bunt attempt down the third base line, advancing both runners to scoring position. The throw to first on the bunt sailed past the first baseman, allowing Anderson to reach safely while Bousfield moved to third and Mathis scored to put the Rebels on top.
A sac fly from Stuart Turner to right field brought Bousfield home and gave Ole Miss the 6-4 cushion it would need to pick up the series-clinching win.
“It was a great college baseball game and a big win for us on the road,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “Both teams played their hearts out and it’s what the SEC is all about. It was a grind it out kind of game that could have gone either way. That last inning we were able to get the leadoff walk and put down the bunts and do the things to pull us through.
“The challenge today was coming back out today after winning on Friday then getting our rear end kicked on Saturday,” Bianco said. “Could we answer the bell and could we do it on the road? We played really hard and neither team played really well, but obviously we’ll take it.”
Brett Huber (2-0) picked up the win in relief, holding the Razorbacks hitless through the final 1.2 innings. He entered the game with one out and a man on first in the 12th inning and allowed the Rebels to pick up the win.
Huber entered the game in relief of right-hander Tanner Bailey, who turned in his best outing of his career as he worked 5.1 innings in relief, scattering five hits and striking out nine batters while not allowing a walk.
Brandon Moore (1-2) suffered the loss for Arkansas, allowing the two unearned runs on one hits with three walks and a strikeout through 4.0 innings of relief work.
Ole Miss struck first, scoring two runs in the top of the fourth. Turner reached on a fielding error at short and Andrew Mistone walked to put two men on before a Will Allen double to the wall in left field brought the first run home. The second run came home on a sac fly to center from Will Jamison and the Rebels held the 2-0 lead.
Arkansas cut the lead in half in the bottom of the inning on a two-out single through the left side from Jake Wise. The Wise hit brought home Joe Serrano who had reached on a single to open the inning. Serrano moved into scoring position on a two-out single from Matt Vinson to set up the RBI-single from Wise that cut the lead to 2-1.
The Rebels moved back in front by two runs in the fifth on a single up the middle from Stuart Turner that scored Tanner Mathis from second. Mathis reached on a single and took second on a groundout to first from Austin Anderson to set up the two-out RBI from Turner.
Arkansas put together a three-run rally in the seventh to briefly claim the lead. The Razorbacks put the first three men on base with a single, a double and a walk before Jacob Morris would deliver a one-out single to left to bring home the first run. A fielder’s choice gave the Rebels the second out on a force play at home but left the bases loaded with two outs. Serrano then singled over the glove of a leaping Anderson at short to bring home two runs and give the Razorbacks the 4-3 lead.
Ole Miss returned the favor and tied the game in the eighth inning, loading the bases with back-to-back singles and a hit batter before pinch hitter Lance Wilson drew a bases-loaded walk to even the score at four. Arkansas would get out of the inning, however, when the shortstop snagged a flare from Bousfield on the run in shallow left to get out of the inning.
The Rebels and Bailey held the Razorbacks in check the rest of the way until Ole Miss could mount the game-winning rally in the 13th to claim the series.
Commodores finish sweep of Tigers
Auburn, Ala. – No. 2 Vanderbilt finished a series sweep at Auburn on Sunday afternoon with an 8-6 victory.
The Commodores’ (19-2) offense jumped on the Tigers (13-6) early scoring in each of the first four innings. Conrad Gregor started the scoring in the first with a sacrifice fly to plate Tony Kemp. VU tacked on three more runs in the second inning and chased Auburn starter Rocky McCord. Chris Harvey delivered a RBI-double and Gregor again came through narrowly missing a home run with a two-run double off the left-center field wall. Rhett Wiseman’s two-out, RBI-double in the fourth gave Vandy a 7-1 lead headed to the bottom of the fourth.
The Tigers climbed back into the game with two runs in the fourth and two more in the sixth to cut the Commodores’ lead to two runs. But the Vanderbilt bullpen rose to the occasion with Jared Miller and Brian Miller working the final three innings to preserve the win and give the Commodores’ their first road series sweep since sweeping the Tigers on The Plains in 2011.
“Last week at Oregon, playing a top-notch team with a good crowd and atmosphere really prepared us to come here,” Brian Miller said. We’re really a mature team; Coach [Corbin] talks about that a lot. Those two things combined help us relax and play our game.”
Brian Miller saved all three games for the Commodores over the weekend and now has seven for the season, four shy of the single-season school record. His 12 career saves in his first two seasons have already moved him into a tie for fourth on the all-time saves list at VU.
Vanderbilt pounded out 13 hits on the afternoon with seven players collecting at least one hit and four having multi-hit games. Kemp and Mike Yastrzemski led the way with three hits each while Wiseman and Harvey had two-hit, two RBI games. Gregor’s three RBI in the win are a season-best for the junior. Patrick Savage and Blake Austin picked up two hits apiece in the loss for Auburn.
Dores’ starter Philip Pfeifer tossed four-plus innings allowing three runs on five hits and three walks in a no decision. McCord (2-1) was pinned with the loss for the Tigers giving up four runs on four hits and three walks in just 1.2 innings on the mound.
Alabama Baseball Explodes for 20 hits in a 15-1 Victory over Tennessee
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama scored eight runs in the bottom of the first and never looked back as the Crimson Tide cruised to their Southeastern Conference win over the Tennessee Volunteers, 15-1, on Sunday afternoon from Sewell-Thomas Stadium. With the win Alabama completes the series victory over Tennessee and improves their record to 11-9 overall and 2-1 in the SEC. The Volunteers drop to 10-9 in all and 1-2 in conference play.
"I told the team, you have to win games a lot of different ways,” UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “Obviously, today was one of those rare commodities where you score eight runs in the first inning. What I was most proud of the team today was that after the eight runs, we kept playing and our guys had constant pressure throughout the game. All weekend we had really good energy, was very competitive throughout, even in last night's game we were just a little sloppy at times but we continued to play.”
After allowing their only run of the game to the Volunteers in the first inning, the Alabama bats erupted for eight runs in the bottom half of the inning. The Tide batted around the order and sent 14 batters to the plate and keyed their highest scoring game of the season and most runs scored since March 12, 2010, versus Stony Brook. Their 20 hits in the game were also the most all season and the most since Alabama hosted Troy on April 7, 2009.
Freshman center fielder Georgie Salem paced the offensive production with a 3-for-5 night that included a run scored and a career-high four runs batted in. Senior catcher Brett Booth had four singles in six at-bats to set a new career high in hits. Booth also added a run scored and a run batted in. Freshman short stop Mikey White reached base in four of five plate appearances, putting up a to-run double, a single, a walk and a hit by pitch, with two runs scored. Senior third baseman Kenny Roberts also put together a strong performance, going 2-for-4 with a single, a two-RBI double, a walk and two runs scored.
Sophomore RHP Spencer Turnbull picked up his first win of the year in his fifth start for the Crimson Tide to move his record to 1-1. He gave a “quality start” for Alabama, going seven innings with only one run allowed off of nine hits and two walks. Sophomore right-hander Jay Shaw and senior righty Trey Pilkington each turned in a scoreless and hitless inning, respectively, to finish the game out. Tennessee starting pitcher, Andy Cox (1-2) was charged with the loss after lasting only 0.2 innings and allowing five runs.
“This team has a good will about them,” Gaspard said. “Today it was nice to get the good lead from Spencer (Turnbull) and let him settle in. He was trying to get his confidence where it needs to be and it was nice for him to stretch out and get those seven innings in today."
Tennessee opened the scoring against Turnbull in the first inning. After the leadoff hitter was advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, Tennessee’s Scott Price drove him in on an RBI single to give the Vols a 1-0 lead.
The Tide quickly responded in the bottom of the frame with their most explosive inning of the year. Roberts was the first to reach base on a single to center field, and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After Moore walked, Booth opened the floodgates with an RBI single to right center. Austen Smith followed by reaching on a fielder’s choice and Kyle Overstreet stroked his third double of the season down the left field line to score another. Cameron Carlisle, White, and Andrew Miller were all hit by pitch in the next three at-bats to force in Smith and Overstreet. The inning was capped off by Roberts’ two-RBI double in his second turn at the plate in the inning, providing the Tide with an 8-1 advantage.
The Alabama lineup continued their hot hitting in the second inning. Smith set up another run on a base hit to left field, and advanced to second on a wild pitch. White swung at the second pitch he saw and stroked his second double of the year deep down the left field line, pushing Smith across home plate for a 9-1 lead. Runs were also added in the fourth and sixth innings on a single and a double by Salem. Daniel Cucjen recorded his first career hit and RBI when he ripped a single into right in his pinch hitting appearance in the seventh.
The Tide rolled along in the eighth inning when Ryan Blanchard, who was replacing Moore in the lineup, stroked a single through the left side to drive in a run. Chance Vincent got an opportunity in place of Smith and recorded his first career hit and RBI on a two-run single to cap off the scoring at 15 runs for Alabama.
Mississippi State Defeats LSU
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State found this Sunday not being a day for rest.
With green lights illuminating from the Dudy Noble Field scoreboard in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, the Bulldogs loaded up and put lots of positive numbers on that scoreboard.
No. 8 MSU pounded out 12 hits and scored in five different innings to knock off No. 2 LSU 10-2 in the final game of a weekend three-game Southeastern Conference series.
With the victory, MSU improved to 19-4 overall and 1-2 in league play, while LSU fell to 18-2 and 2-1. The Bulldogs prevented a first-ever three-game series sweep by the Tigers at Dudy Noble Field.
While each of the first two contests hung in the balance in the ninth inning, the Bulldogs created breathing room Sunday behind a balanced offensive attack and brilliant pitching by starter Kendall Graveman.
“Kendall put the team on his shoulders,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “From his body language and preparation, he couldn’t be denied. This was a really a big win for us, because we needed it from a confidence standpoint.
“With one pitch on Friday, we take two-of-three, but that’s the nature of this league. It really is unforgiving.”
Graveman (2-1) allowed seven hits and one run (earned) over six-plus innings of work. The senior right-hander struck out four, walked three and faced 26 batters, while throwing 91 pitches.
Offensively, the Bulldogs set the tone by scoring twice in the first inning. Adam Frazier began things with a leadoff single. After a sacrifice bunt by C.T. Bradford, Hunter Renfroe slapped an RBI-double. Renfroe later scored on Wes Rea’s double to the left center gap.
MSU extended the lead to 6-0 with a single score in the second inning and three scores in the fourth inning.
Bradford ripped an RBI-single, while Rea added a two-run base hit in the fourth inning.
An RBI-single by Mitch Slauter extended the advantage to 7-0 in the sixth inning.
LSU broke up the shutout on a sacrifice fly by Jacoby Jones in the seventh inning. Working in relief, Ben Bracewell got the Bulldogs’ 32nd double play ball of the season – third of the game – to snuff that threat.