Vanderbilt scored seven runs in the first three innings, capped off by a five run third and used a strong relief outing by Brett Jacobson to beat Ole Miss, 7-4, in the semifinal action at the Southeastern Conference tournament Saturday afternoon at Regions Park.
The Commodores (40-19) forced a second game with the Rebels (36-23) later tonight. A win would put Vanderbilt in the title game for the third straight year, while a loss would end the team's tourney run.
"In order to do it, you have to have a rout and we created a rout and some believability because of it," said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin on his team's hot start and ability to force another game. "If we hadn't done it before, it might be a pipe dream, but we've done it before so it isn't a pipe dream. There are a lot of things that have to happen, you have to have quality pitching and some luck and you have to hit. It's still tough."
VU snapped a three-game losing streak to Ole Miss dating back to the regular season series in Oxford in April. The win was the third straight over the Rebels in tourney play as the Commodores swept two games in a similar situation on semifinal Saturday a year ago.
David Macias led off the game with a solo homer to right to give the Commodores an early 1-0 lead. It was his eighth homer of the season.
Cody Overbeck's two-run homer in the bottom half gave the Rebels a 2-1 lead.
VU tied the game in the second on a RBI groundout by Shea Robin and then plated five runs on three hits in the third to take a 7-2 lead. Alex Feinberg reached on an error to lead off the frame and back-to-back walks to Pedro Alvarez and Ryan Flaherty loaded the bases with no outs. Dominic de la Osa singled to left to score two runs to give VU a 4-2 lead. Steven Liddle followed with a RBI single to score Flaherty and Andrew Giobbi had a RBI groundout to score de la Osa to make it 6-2. Robin capped off the inning with a RBI single up the middle to score Liddle.
Ole Miss plated two runs in the fourth courtesy of a double into the left-center gap by Tim Ferguson to make it 7-4.
The Commodores then rode the strong pitching of Brett Jacobson and solid defensive play to hold the Rebels in check the final five innings.
Ole Miss had a chance to cut into the lead in the fifth, loading the bases with freshman slugger Matt Smith at the plate with two outs. Jacobson struck him out to end the threat.
Jacobson hit the lead off batter in the eighth and walked the next batter before facing Smith again. This time Smith grounded to third, allowing Alvarez to touch the bag and throw to second for the second out. Feinberg then threw to first to attempt to finish out the triple play but the umpire called him safe in a close play.
Tim Ferguson walked to lead off the ninth, causing the Commodores to go to Richie Goodenow out of the bullpen. He struck out the first batter he faced before walking Jordan Henry to bring the tying run to the plate. Goodenow struck out Fuller Smith before Russell Brewer came in to face Logan Power. Brewer got Power to pop to second to end the game and pick up his eighth save of the year, tying him for third best in school history.
Jacobson improved to 2-4 on the year pitching four innings of no-hit ball with two strikeouts and four walks.
"Sometimes you make great pitches that get hit, and not so great ones that don't get hit," said Jacobson. "I was fortunate to make some good pitches. It seemed like every time there was a ball put in play the defense was turning a double play or almost a triple play. Our defense really picked me up today."
Vanderbilt 115 000 000 -- 790 Ole Miss 200 200 000 -- 451
Hill, Jacobson (5), Goodenow (9), and Robin. Satterwhite, McKean (2), Cryer (3) and Basham. W- Jacobson 2-4, L- McKean 4-1. Sv- Brewer (8) HR: VU: Macias (8) OM: Overbeck (15)
Ole Miss 8 Vanderbilt 7 (game 2)
Vanderbilt's late rally fell short as Ole Miss held on for an 8-7 win in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament Saturday night at Regions Park.
The Commodores trailed 8-3 heading into the bottom of the eighth when Pedro Alvarez walked and Ryan Flaherty singled to lead off the inning. Rebel ace closer Scott Bittle came in and struck out Dominic de la Osa and Steven Liddle before Andrew Giobbi banged a RBI double down the left field line to score Alvarez to cut the lead to 8-4. Shea Robin then singled up the middle to score two runs and make it a two-run deficit at 8-6.
Pedro Alvarez launched a solo homer with one out in the bottom of the ninth to cut the lead to 8-7. It was his 49th career homer tying him with Scotti Madison for first on the school's career list.
Ryan Flaherty followed Alvarez' homer with a single to center, but de la Osa and Liddle struck out to end the game.
"We came up short tonight, but we've got some young kids who grew up this week," said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin.
The Commodores streak of three straight championship game appearances in as many opportunities (2004, 2006-07) ended as they fell to 40-20 with the loss.
The Rebels improved to 37-23 and advanced to the championship game for the second time in three years where they will face a red hot LSU team that is carrying a 19 game winning streak into the game.
Flaherty blasted a two-run homer in the second to cut the deficit to 3-2. It was his 14th homer of the year and scored Alex Feinberg who reached on a walk.
The score stayed the same until the fourth when Ole Miss used a RBI double by Tim Ferguson and a RBI single by Jordan Henry to extend the lead to 5-2.
Guerrero added a solo homer in the fifth, his fourth of the tourney, to extend the lead to 6-2.
Steven Liddle doubled with one out in the sixth and scored on Andrew Giobbi's RBI single to right to make it 6-3.
Matt Smith's solo homer in the seventh, his 14th of the year, put the Rebels back up by four at 7-3. The Rebels added another run on a RBI groundout in the eighth to make it 8-3.
Drew Hayes gave up three runs, all via the homer in the first, in three innings of work with two strikeouts and four walks to drop to 2-1 on the year.
Steven Schwartz came on in relief in the fourth and struck out a career-high nine batters in 4.1 innings of work. He gave up five runs on nine hits and did not walk a batter.
Ryan Flaherty led the Commodores with three hits, while Andrew Giobbi added two of his own with two RBI.
"I think we can take a lot out of this tournament," said Flaherty. "We've got a little bit of momentum going."
Jake Morgan gave up three runs on three hits in three innings of work to pick up the win to move to 4-0 on the year.
The Commodores will return back to Nashville on Sunday morning and have the day off. NCAA Regional sites will be announced at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN2. The 64-team NCAA Tournament field will be announced Monday at 11:30 a.m. CT on ESPN.
Ole Miss 300 210 110 -- 8(12)0 Vanderbilt 200 001 031 -- 790
Bukvich, Morgan (5), Bittle (9) and Basham. Hayes, Schwartz (4), Lamm (8), Reid (9) and Robin W-Morgan 4-0, L- Hayes 2-1. Sv- None. HR: OM: Guerrero 2 (8), M. Smith (14) VU: Flaherty (14), Alvarez (9)