HOOVER, Ala. – Mississippi State saw its Hoover Metropolitan Stadium magic fade.
After winning the first three game of this year’s Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament, the 13th-ranked Bulldogs saw the fun come to a screeching halt Saturday afternoon. MSU saw an overall game six-win tournament win streak snapped with a 16-8 loss to No. 1 Vanderbilt in the semifinal round of this year’s event.
Vanderbilt will meet LSU Sunday for the tournament championship. MSU will now await its postseason destination. The complete 64-team NCAA regional field will be announced at 11 a.m. Monday on ESPNU. The Bulldogs appear poised to receive an at-large bid to make a third straight regional appearance.
The 16 tournament host locations will be unveiled at 8 p.m. Sunday on ESPN during the network’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcast. If MSU is selected as a regional host, ticket information will be made available through the university at that time.
“Give Vanderbilt credit,” MSU pitching coach Butch Thompson said. “That team swept us during the regular season. We had another chance to figure them out and couldn’t do anything with it. We had a tough time putting outs together.
“Offensively, we had a great game. We had several guys with some great at-bats against a really good pitching staff. We will make the adjustments and get ready for regional play.”
MSU knocked off Vanderbilt 3-0 in last season’s tournament championship game. The encore was much different. The Commodores removed all doubt from the contest with seven runs in the second inning. By the time the marathon ended, the two teams had combined for 24 runs, 33 hits, four errors and 21 stranded base runners.
Still, the Maroon and White continued to fight.
Down 8-0, the Bulldogs (43-17) scored once in the third inning and three times in the fourth inning.
Hunter Renfroe had an RBI-single in the third inning. The Bulldogs tried to creep closer when Wes Rea barely missed grand slam, flying out instead to end the inning.
In the fourth inning, Jacob Robson had an RBI-single, Adam Frazier had an RBI-single and Alex Detz added a sacrifice fly.
Vanderbilt reestablished a commanding lead with five runs in the top half of the fifth inning.
Again, the Bulldogs went to work.
In the fifth inning, Brett Pirtle reached as a hit batsman and Rea followed with a double. Demarcus Henderson had a groundball out, while Sam Frost followed with a sacrifice fly. An RBI-double by Renfroe made it 13-7 in the sixth inning but the Bulldogs could get no closer.
“It simply wasn’t our day,” Thompson said. “Vanderbilt is the best team we have faced this year. Today didn’t change my mind on any of that. Hopefully, our kids will have a chip on their shoulders after this game. Defending the tournament championship was important to this group and they fell one game shy of having that chance.
“Now, it is time to go back home and get to work. I think this group is going to come out and play their hearts out in a regional.”
Renfroe had three hits for MSU, while Frazier and Detz each added multiple hits. Jacob Lindgren (4-3) was lifted during the second inning, allowed six runs (three earned) and took the loss. Six Bulldog hurlers followed as MSU saw its bullpen scoreless streak snapped at 44 innings, dating back to last season’s tournament.
Vanderbilt (51-8) received three hits each from Xavier Turner, Connor Harrell, Conrad Gregor and Zander Wiel. All nine VU starters had at least one hit and scored at least one run. TJ Pecoraro (4-1) threw six innings for the win and Jared Miller finished the contest for his second save.