#2 South Carolina 3 Alabama 2
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – SEC CHAMPS!!! Second ranked South Carolina (44-12, 22-8 SEC) broke out of the gates with an early two-run lead and behind solid work from starter Colby Holmes and three relievers the Gamecocks defeated Alabama (32-24, 14-16) 3-2 on Saturday afternoon to claim at least a share of the SEC Championship. It is the school’s third SEC Championship in baseball and the first since the 2002 regular season. Carolina also claims at least a share of the SEC Eastern Division title, the school’s fifth (1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2011). South Carolina heads to Hoover, Ala. for the SEC Tournament as the No. 1 seed and will face the No. 8 seed Auburn at 5:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday May 25 at Regions Park.
South Carolina broke ahead by two runs in the first two innings. The Gamecocks took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Peter Mooney singled up the middle and Scott Wingo singled to right field to get things started and put runners on the corners with no outs. Mooney would then score on Christian Walker’s RBI sacrifice fly to right field. That lead would increase to 2-0 in the second inning as Steven Neff delivered with a solo home run to right field, his fourth home run of the season, and fourth homer in last 15 at-bats.
#3 Vanderbilt 17 Georgia 7
Athens, Ga. – Vanderbilt emerged with a wild 17-7 win over Georgia Saturday afternoon at Foley Field to clinch the series and win a share of the Southeastern Conference championship.
After cruising to an early 6-0 lead the Commodores let Georgia back in the game with the Bulldogs scoring four runs in the sixth inning. The Bulldogs then took the lead with back-to-back home runs in the three-run seventh inning. However, the Dores sent 10 men to the plate in the eighth to score five runs on five hits and piled on six more runs in the ninth to finish off the victory and clinch a piece of the school’s first SEC crown since 2007.
The Commodores pounded out 18 hits, including 11 in the final two innings, en route to the team’s 44th win of the year. For the second straight day all nine players in the VU lineup had at least one hit with five collecting two hits or more on Saturday. Connor Harrell continued to swing a hot bat going 3-for-3 with three runs scored, three RBI and his sixth home run of the year. Aaron Westlake and Jason Esposito each hit home runs in the team’s ninth inning rally. Tony Kemp led all players with four hits and Anthony Gomez added three RBI. Zach Cone led Georgia with two hits and two runs scored.
#5 Florida 19 Kentucky 3
No. 4 Florida (41-15/22-8 SEC) used a seven-run fourth inning and a 25-hit outburst to defeat Kentucky (25-30/8-22 SEC), 19-3, and earn a share of the SEC Championship on Saturday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. Splitting both the league’s overall and Eastern Division titles with No. 2 South Carolina (44-12) and No. 3 Vanderbilt (44-9), the Gators became the first program to repeat as the SEC winner since LSU accomplished the feat in 1996-97. Florida will be the third seed for next week’s SEC Tourney in Hoover, Ala., and will face sixth-seeded Mississippi State (34-21/14-16 SEC) on Wednesday afternoon.
Florida claimed its 12th SEC Championship after previously bringing home the crown in 1952, 1956, 1962, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1988, 1996, 1998, 2005 and 2010. LSU’s total of 14 titles leads the conference, while Alabama is second with 13 and UF is next with 12. The Orange and Blue also matched its school record for regular-season wins (1989 (41-18 reg. season), 1991 (41-19 reg. season), 1996 (41-14 reg. season) and 1998 (41-13 reg. season)).
The Gators repeated as the league champion for the second time in school history and the first time since 1981-82. In addition, Florida earned its third-consecutive Eastern Division title, last done by the Gators from 1996-98. UF’s 21 division titles is the highest total in the SEC, as LSU is second with 15. Now in his fourth season, Kevin O’Sullivan became the fourth Gator head coach to win multiple SEC Championships, along with Dave Fuller (1952, 1956, 1962), Joe Arnold (1984, 1988) and Andy Lopez (1996, 1998).
Game 1: #18 Arkansas 2 Mississippi 0 (7 innings)
Game 2: #18 Arkansas 5 Mississippi 3 (7 innings)
FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas clinched the Southeastern Conference Western Division title, sweeping a doubleheader from Ole Miss on Saturday afternoon at Baum Stadium.
The Razorbacks clinched their fourth Western Division title since joining the SEC and the first since the 2007 season. Arkansas finishes the regular season with a 36-18 overall record and a 15-15 mark in conference games. Ole Miss closes the regular season with a 30-25 record and a 13-17 record in league games.
Arkansas entered the second game of the doubleheader in a must-win situation if it wanted to advance to the conference tournament. With the win, Arkansas clinched the outright division title, finishing 15-15, a game ahead of Alabama, Auburn and Mississippi State. A loss in the second game of the doubleheader would have forced a five-way tie for first place in the Western Division, but Arkansas would have missed out on the conference tournament due to tiebreaker rules.
Tennessee 4 Auburn 3
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee freshman Andrew Toles delivered a walk-off single to cap a two-run ninth inning that gave the Volunteers a 4-3 victory over Auburn to close out the 2011 campaign on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The contest marked the end of the collegiate careers of five UT seniors – Rob Catapano, Matt Duffy, Tyler Horne, Josh Liles and Khayyan Norfork.
Prior to Saturday’s ninth-inning comeback, the Big Orange had been 0-28 when trailing after seven innings this season. Tennessee finishes the year with a 25-29 overall record and 7-23 mark in Southeastern Conference play.
“All those things you need to do to win a game, we did today,” UT Head Coach Todd Raleigh said. “We really squelched a lot of (Auburn) rallies. We were down a bunch today, but Josh (Liles) got the huge, huge home run. Rob (Catapano) pitched great to start the day, (Drew Steckenrider) pitched great, Nick Williams was great, T.J. Thornton was great getting that one punch-out. Everything we did, every little move we made, seemed to go our way.
LSU 6 Mississippi State 3
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Freshman right-hander Ryan Eades earned his first SEC victory Saturday and designated hitter Raph Rhymes collected three hits, including a two-run homer in the eighth inning, to lead LSU to a 6-3 win over Mississippi State at Dudy Noble Field.
Saturday’s game concluded the 2011 regular season for LSU (36-20, 13-17 SEC). The Tigers won 12 of their final 15 games of the season, including nine of their last 12 SEC games. The Tigers will await word on a possible bid to an NCAA Regional. The NCAA field will be announced on Monday, May 30.