SEC Tournament Notebook - Day 4

HOOVER, Ala.- Georgia came into the SEC Tournament needing three wins to secure an NCAA berth, and it didn't look promising after a 10-0 loss to Vanderbilt to start the week. The Bulldogs responded with three straight wins, two of them coming over top-five teams, to secure a postseason bid. It concluded on Saturday with an emotional win over Florida.

"It was really special for our program," Georgia head coach Dave Perno said. "The kids played hard like they have all year. I'm probably as proud of this team as I am of any team we've ever had."

The Bulldogs got a lift when teammate Jonathan Taylor joined them in the dugout for the second time this season after he was paralyzed in a mid-March game. The injury occurred when he collided with a teammate in the outfield.

"It's always good to see him," Georgia outfielder Zach Cone said. "He has been to two of our games this year, the other when we played (Georgia) Tech at Turner Field, and we've won both of them. It's always good for us to see him. He's our brother."

The humbling reality of Taylor's situation put baseball into perspective for the team. His energy and passion to fight poured through them.

"Baseball is just a game," Georgia pitcher Michael Palazzone said. "That's real life. You can't take this game too seriously. You've got to go out there and have fun because you're never guaranteed tomorrow."

Perno was upset Wednesday when his team was shutout by Vanderbilt freshmen T.J. Pecoraro and Kevin Ziomek. He didn't like the at-bats his team put together and thought they hit the ball in the air too much for a team that doesn't have much power.

They worked saw multiple pitches against the Florida pitching staff to get deep into counts and fight their way on-base. It's not an offense that can survive without putting runners in motion and creating offense, and Perno is okay with that.

VANDERBILT CRUISES TO TITLE GAME: The Commodores took care of Arkansas in one game on Saturday, keyed by a two-run home run by Connor Harrell and 6.1 innings from left-hander Grayson Garvin. The Vanderbilt scoring came from three runs in the first two innings, with Anthony Gomez driving in the other run.

The big blow was Harrell's home run, which gave the Commodores the only support they would need.

"It was a changeup that he just left up a little bit," Harrell said. "I was able to get my hands extended and get it up into the air of that jet stream."

Garvin allowed nine hits in his 6.1 innings, but he pitched well with runners on base to limit the Razorbacks to two runs. He threw 67 of his 93 pitches for strikes.

The big boost came from the Vanderbilt bullpen. They struggled in big series against Florida and South Carolina this season, but recent outings have regained confidence for the group, as they tossed 2.2 perfect innings.

"The relief pitching was really good to see," Corbin said. "I'm really proud of the way our pitching has finished up these games."

ARKANSAS COMFORTABLE AS HOST: The Razorbacks needed to win some games in Hoover to secure hosting an NCAA Regional next weekend, and their two wins have head coach Dave van Horn believing that they did it.

"I think we've had a good season," van Horn said. "We put together a good resume with the league we play in and we won the Western Division. That's the things that probably jump out at me."


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