In an elimination game that would send one team packing and one team to the championship, top-seeded Vanderbilt defeated the reigning SEC Tournament champions of Mississippi State 16-8 in an offensive slugfest on Saturday afternoon.
There were 33 combined hits in the game with over twenty players total reaching base including Vanderbilt’s Zander Wiel, Conrad Gregor, Connor Harrell and Xavier Turner who all had three hits in the game in addition to Mississippi State’s Hunter Renfroe.
“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,” said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin.
While some coaches criticize teams for scoring the amount of runs that Vanderbilt did, Mississippi State head coach John Cohen did the opposite.
“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,” said Cohen.
With the loss, Mississippi State is now eliminated from the tournament. However Vanderbilt advances to the championship game to face two-seeded LSU.
“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,” said Vanderbilt right fielder Mike Yastrzemski.
The matchup is one of the most anticipated games of the year as Vanderbilt and LSU are the number one and two ranked teams in both the SEC and the country.
“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,” said Vanderbilt second baseman Tony Kemp.