Alabama 7 Arkansas 4
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Alabama used a five-run first inning and starting pitcher Nathan Kilcrease struck out a career-high 10 batters as the Crimson Tide posted a 7-4 win over the No. 18 ranked Arkansas Razorbacks in the opening game of the 2011 Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament on Wednesday morning from Regions Park in Hoover, Ala.
Seventh seeded Alabama (33-24) got another great start from Kilcrease, the reigning SEC Pitcher of the Week. Kilcrease (7-4) tied his season and career-high with 10 strikeouts, to keep the SEC Western Division Champion and two-seeded Razorbacks’ bats quiet. He finished the game allowing four runs (one earned) on seven hits in 8.0 innings. Jonathan Smart pitched a scoreless ninth inning to pick up his 10th save of the season.
“Nathan (Kilcrease) has delivered for us time and time again, and today was no different,” UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “It seems like every time we need one, he gives us one of his best outings. Today he had the most strikeouts he’s had in a game, and it came against an SEC opponent. I thought our team competed really hard, and in an early game, came out ready to play.”
Sophomore Brian Johnson (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) belted a grand slam in the seventh inning to turn a 5-2 deficit into an eventual 7-5 victory for third-seeded Florida (42-15) over sixth-seeded Mississippi State (34-22) on the opening day of the 2011 SEC Tournament on Wednesday afternoon at Regions Park.
With their first win in the initial round of the event since 2005, the Gators will now meet seventh-seeded Alabama (33-24) at 5:30 p.m. ET on Thursday in a winner’s bracket game. The contest will be carried on Sun Sports, Channels 48/748 on the Cox Communications’ Cable System in Gainesville and Ocala and on WRUF SportsRadio 850. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs will meet second-seeded Arkansas (36-19) at 10:30 a.m. ET in the first elimination game of the five-day tournament.
Hoover, Ala. – Vanderbilt opened the Southeastern Conference Tournament with a 10-0 run-rule win over Georgia Wednesday night at Regions Park.
A trio of freshmen led the fourth-ranked Commodores with pitchers T.J. Pecoraro and Kevin Ziomek teaming up with SEC Freshman of the Year Tony Kemp. Pecoraro and Ziomek combined for a one-hit shutout with Ziomek earning the victory. The lefty entered the game in the fourth inning after Pecoraro exited with a right forearm strain. Ziomek walked the first batter he faced to load the bases but struck out the next two Bulldogs to end the threat. He earned his third win of the year working 3.2 no-hit innings and fanning three.
#1 South Carolina 7 Auburn 3
HOOVER, Ala. – Junior left-hander Michael Roth did not allow an earned run and hurled his first complete game of the season and Evan Marzilli and Peter Mooney each drove in two runs as top ranked South Carolina rallied from an early three-run deficit to open the SEC Tournament with a 7-3 win over Auburn at Regions Park. Carolina improves to 45-12 while Auburn drops to 29-28 on the year. Carolina will face Vanderbilt in the final game on Thursday at a time still to be determined. It will be televised live on SportSouth and can also be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network. FoxSportsSouth.com will also have live video streaming of the SportSouth telecast.
After giving up three unearned runs in the top of the first, Roth battled the rest of the way and limited the Tigers to just three hits in the final eight innings. He retired 13 consecutive batters as well to end the game. Roth improves to 11-3 for the season. He had two strikeouts, two walks and six hits allowed. Auburn starter Jon Luke Jacobs lasted only three innings and allowed four runs on five hits with a strikeout and a walk to take the loss. He is now 1-5 for the season.
“I think that I had a little better composure this time than I did last week,” said Roth. “I wouldn’t have as good of numbers as I do without the guys playing behind me and they showed that today because I didn’t have many strikeouts.