By: Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
Highlights | Box Score
HOOVER, Ala. – Top-seeded Vanderbilt exploded for seven runs in the second inning Saturday and held on to win a 16-8 slugfest against fifth-seeded Mississippi State to advance to its third consecutive Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship Game at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
Vanderbilt (51-8), the nation’s No. 1 team, will square off with No. 2 LSU on Sunday for the SEC Tournament Championship. The game is slated for a 3:30 p.m. CT start and will be carried live on ESPN2.
The two teams combined for 24 runs and 23 hits in the game, including 19 hits by the Commodores. Vanderbilt scored the majority of its runs in the second (7) and fifth (5) innings. Four Vanderbilt players had three hits in the game.
TJ Pecoraro (4-1) picked up the win for Vanderbilt, pitching 6.0 innings in a starting role and allowing seven earned runs. Jared Miller picked up his second save of the season, toiling the final 3.0 innings and striking out three. Jacob Lindgren (4-3), the Mississippi State starter, took the loss for the Bulldogs. Mississippi State used seven pitchers in the game.
Vanderbilt first baseman Conrad Gregor went 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored. Designated hitter Zander Wiel was 3-for-5 with three RBI, while second baseman Tony Kemp went 2-for-4 with three RBI.
2013 SEC Baseball Tournament
Game 16 – Saturday, May 25 – 3:40 p.m.
#1 Vanderbilt vs. #5 Mississippi State
Vanderbilt Postgame Quotes
Coach Tim Corbin
“It’s a tale of two different games. That’s what makes the game unique. It was good offensive output. It was our ability to swing the bat better than we did yesterday. We had a good attack on the ball. We took advantage of a couple of missed cues early, scored some runs and kept applying pressure. It was a good job by our boys.”
On playing in the championship
“Getting the chance to play in the championship game is a special game. I think there was a sense of redemption from the kids from the other night. We were disappointed. The kids had the ability to stay present put them in this position right now.
On pitching accomplishments
“It’s a big accomplishment. I think a lot of MSU. They are one of the best teams in the conference. The fact that we did the job today was pretty good. It’s tough to score on those guys, so it was a defensive attack.”
On playing tomorrow
“Every chance we get to play a team that wins 50 games a year is a chance to get better. That’s something that doesn’t happen every year. They’re a good ball club. We want to play the best teams and test ourselves even more.”
On bunts boosting confidence
“It boosts confidence. When you see your teammate have a good at bat, you get it from them too. You’re feeling good stepping into the box. You give everything you’ve got because he did as well. You want to pass it on to the next guy. As long as you can do your best to pass it on to him, everyone is going to keep rolling and be successful.”
On playing tomorrow
“It’s going to be a fun matchup because two of the best teams in the nation are going at it. We’re not going to have our best pitchers but we’re going to have our younger guys that are going to step into the role.”
On wanting to win the championship
“Hopefully tomorrow, I can bring energy to the team and produce some runs. It’s going to be a lot of LSU fans. We have the crowd support too, so hopefully it’s going to be some Black and Gold chants tomorrow.”
Mississippi State Postgame Quotes
Head Coach John Cohen
“We don’t have a problem giving them the baseball. In the big picture, we got beat by a bunch so we don’t feel good about that. If we had the chance to play tomorrow, I feel good about how these boys would do. I have a lot of confidence in these guys and the way they played in this tournament.”
On the eight run deficiency
“All these old rules where the other team is down by a bunch, the other team is supposed to stop stealing, stop scoring. Vanderbilt does it the right way. This is college baseball; you score as many runs as you possibly can. When you’re down by eight runs, the other team is simply showing you your deficiency.”
On the loss and their elimination from the tournament
“Saw the ball well all weekend really, couldn’t get by, we couldn’t get everything together. We really worked on loading, striding everything; just couldn’t get the mental concept of putting the bat where it needed to be.”
On playing from behind
“It’s always tough playing from behind, but our pitching staff always gives us a chance to win, as long as we keep putting on runs. That just wasn’t the case today.”
On making this loss a positive when moving forward
“We got all the weekend guys worked, that’s a definite positive. The pitcher did a pretty good job, the hitters did great work. All of our pitchers did a fantastic job all weekend. That’s all you can ask for. We got a bunch of hits today, if we can keep that going into the Regional, or the College World Series, we’ll do pretty good.”
On State’s chances in the postseason
“We were 21-15 against top 50 teams in the RPI. Nobody else in the country has played that many games against the top RPI 50. I feel like our schedule has prepared us for the postseason coming up, and we go out and play our game, we have as good of a chance as anybody.”