Saturday SEC recaps; Evan Russell drills three homers; Bama walks off Auburn; Arkansas gets 30th win
Barry Allen and Chris Lee • 4/18/2021 in Baseball
A 10-game day filled with drama made for some exciting SEC Baseball action on Saturday. Alabama and Tennessee both posted dramatic home wins over arch rivals. Ole Miss lefty Doug Nikhazy tossed a 1-hit shutout in the win over rival Mississippi State. Arkansas, Florida and South Carolina all swept double headers on a busy day around the league.
GAME OF THE DAY:
Alabama posted its second walk-off win of the weekend with a 10-9 series-clinching win over rival Auburn on Saturday. The Crimson Tide, who trailed four different times, got a walk-off double from shortstop Jim Jarvis in the bottom of the ninth inning for the win. First baseman Drew Williamson, who singled to lead off the inning, scored the winning run. Alabama trailed 1-0, 5-2, 8-5 and 9-8 during the game against the Tigers.
TEAM OF THE DAY:
Arkansas became the first team in the nation to 30 wins with a pair of home wins over former Southwest Conference rival Texas A&M. The Razorbacks posted a 13-0 blowout in the opener and then needed a walk off win in extra innings to sweep the double header. Matt Goodheart homered in both games for the Hogs.
PLAYER OF THE DAY:
Tennessee left fielder Evan Russell belted three home runs to tie the Vols single-game record against Vanderbilt. It was his second three home run game of the season Russell also hit three home runs in a win over LSU on March 27. Russell belted two home runs off Jack Leiter and then hit a go-ahead grand slam off closer Luke Murphy in the eighth inning. Russell tied the UT single-game home run record held by Rusty Ensor (vs. Vanderbilt, 1981), Alan Cockrell (vs. Austin Peay, 1983), Todd Helton (vs. Arkansas, 1995), Cody Hahn (vs. Ohio, 2009) and Russell (vs. LSU, 2021).
PITCHER OF THE DAY:
Ole Miss left hander Doug Nikhazy fired a one-hit shutout as the Rebels blanked rival Mississippi State 9-0 on Super Bulldog Weekend. Nikhazy struck out a career-high 12 batters in the win. He did not allow a hit until MSU left fielder Brayland Skinner reached on a one-out single in the fifth inning. Prior to the single, Nikhazy had retired 11 straight batters. Nikhazy is the first Ole Miss pitcher to toss a one-hitter since Adam Yates had a 7-inning, one-hitter against SE Louisiana on Feb. 14, 2003.
Tennessee 7, Vanderbilt 4 (Knoxville)
Records: Vanderbilt (27-6, 10-4 SEC); Tennessee (29-7, 10-4 SEC)
Series: Series tied, 1-1
Evan Russell clubbed three home runs for Tennessee, including an eighth-inning grand slam, as Tennessee came from behind to beat Vanderbilt, 8-4, on Saturday.
Russell hit two home runs off Jack Leiter before adding a third—that, the grand slam—off closer Luke Murphy.
Vandy’s C.J. Rodriguez hit a three-run bomb for the Commodores, who saw a 16-game SEC road winning streak snapped.
Tennessee catcher Connor Pavolony and Vandy third baseman Jayson Gonzalez each had solo shots.
The Vols’ Sean Hunley earned the win in relief.
Ole Miss 9, Mississippi State 0 (Starkville)
Records: Mississippi State (26-8, 9-5 SEC); Ole Miss (26-9, 9-5 SEC)
Series: Series tied, 1-1
Nikhazy pitched a game of the ages on Saturday.
The Ole Miss lefty fired a one-hit shutout as the Rebels blanked rival Mississippi State 9-0 on Super Bulldog Weekend. Nikhazy struck out a career-high 12 batters in the win, as Ole Miss snapped a seven-game losing streak to its in-state rival.
He did not allow a hit until MSU left fielder Brayland Skinner reached on a one-out single in the fifth inning. Prior to the single, Nikhazy had retired 11 straight batters.
Nikhazy is the first Ole Miss pitcher to toss a one-hitter since Adam Yates had a 7-inning, one-hitter against SE Louisiana on Feb. 14, 2003. The last Ole Miss to toss a complete-game, one-hit shutout against an SEC team was Rick Ziblich vs. Alabama in 1975.
Nikhazy became the fourth Rebel pitcher to throw a complete-game, one-hit shutout against Mississippi State and the first since Larry Williams in 1960.
Ole Miss scored in each of the first five innings against and chased MSU starter Will Bednar after just three innings of work. He allowed six runs seven hits in the loss.
Right fielder Hayden Leatherwood homered In the win for the Rebels. Shortstop Jacob Gonzalez and first baseman Cael Baker both had two RBIs.
Alabama 10, Auburn 9 (Tuscaloosa)
Records: Alabama (22-13, 7-8 SEC); Auburn (14-18; 2-13 SEC)
Series: Alabama wins series, 2-1
Alabama capped a wild series win over rival Auburn with a 10-9 walk off win on Saturday.
Shortstop Jim Jarvis laced a one-out double off the wall in left-center field to score first baseman Drew Williamson with the winning run. Williamson opened the winning with a single.
The Crimson Tide posted to walk off wins in the series and all three games were decided by one run.
Alabama overcame four different deficits to win the game. The Tide trailed 1-0, 5-2, 8-5 and 9-8, but each time the Auburn bullpen reared its ugly head and gave the leads back.
Auburn took an 8-5 lead in the seventh inning after Peyton Glavine had tossed three shutout innings. The Tigers then turned the game over to Carson Skipper, who suffered the extra inning loss in game one.
Alabama second baseman Peyton Wilson greeted Skipper with a bunt single and right fielder William Hamiter blasted a two-run homer to dead center field to cut the lead to 8-7. One batter later, catcher Sam Praytor homered to left field to tie the game at 8-8.
Auburn retook the lead in the eighth on first baseman Tyler Miller’s RBI double that made it 9-8. The run came was the first allowed all season relief ace Chase Lee.
The Tigers turned to Mason Barnett, but he could not hold the lead as Wilson smacked a game-tying double into left-center field to make it a 9-9 game.
The Auburn bullpen gave up seven of the 10 runs and 12 of the 16 hits in the loss. The Tigers used five relievers as starter Jacob Gonzalez lasted only 1 1/3 innings.
Alabama DH Owen Diodati had a two-run single in the first inning and two-run home run in the third inning.
Miller, catcher Steven Williams and second baseman Brody Moore all had two RBIs for the Tigers.
Alabama left Connor Prielipp made his first start of the season since opening day and pitched only one inning. He allowed the first of his collegiate career when Williams had an RBI single in the frame.
Arkansas 13, Texas A&M 0 (Game 1)
Arkansas 2, Texas A&M 1 (10 Innings) (Game 2) (Fayetteville)
Records: Arkansas (30-5, 11-3 SEC); Texas A&M (20-17, 3-11 SEC)
Series: Arkansas leads series, 2-0
Arkansas posted a lopsided win in game one and needed a walk off win in extra innings to complete the double header sweep of Texas A&M.
The Razorbacks posted a 13-0 win in the opener and scratched out a 2-1, 10-inning win in the nightcap to take over sole possession of first place in the SEC standings.
Starter Peyton Pallette was brilliant, striking out seven in six innings of work. The righty allowed only three hits and did not walk a batter in the longest start of his collegiate career.
Designated hitter Matt Goodheart provided Pallette with early run support, launching a homer over the wall in right center in the bottom of the first inning to give the Hogs a 1-0 lead.
The one-run lead would hold up until the top of the seventh. Kevin Kopps, who entered in relief of Pallette to start the inning, was greeted by a solo home run from Texas A&M right fielder Brett Minnich to tie the game at 1-1.
From there, the reliever was nearly unhittable. Kopps closed out the remainder of the game, striking out five while allowing only more hit in his four innings of work to pick up his sixth win of the season.
His dominance out of the bullpen set the stage for Cayden Wallace, who stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the 10th with runners on first and second. The freshman did exactly what was needed.
Wallace put the ball in play, reaching on a fielder's choice as Texas A&M second baseman Ty Coleman's errant throw to first base allowed Moore to score the game-winning run from second.
Arkansas won the opener 13-0 with home runs from second baseman Robert Moore, Goodheart and first baseman Brady Slavens.
The trio, along with Wallace, were a combined 10-for-16 with 10 runs scored, two doubles, two home runs and nine RBIs.
Slavens finished with a home run and four RBIs.
Goodheart homered in both games and had four hits and two RBIs in the doubleheader.
Florida 8, Missouri 5 (Game 1)
Florida 6, Missouri 4 (Game 2) (Gainesville)
Records: Florida (25-11, 9-6 SEC); Missouri (11-23, 4-11 SEC)
Series: Florida sweeps series, 3-0
Florida completed a three-game sweep of Missouri with a pair of wins on Saturday in Gainesville. The Gators rallied for an 8-6 in the opener and held on for a 6-4 win in game two. The teams played a double header on Saturday to due to the threat of inclement weather on Sunday in Gainesville.
The Gators have swept Missouri for five consecutive series and six of the eight series since the Tigers joined the SEC in 2016.
Florida has now won four straight SEC games for the first time since 2018.
The Gators overcame a 5-0 deficit to win the opener 8-5.
The Tigers scored five runs in the second inning , capped by second baseman Mark Vierling’s two-run homer, to take a 5-0 lead.
The Gators grabbed a lead by scoring five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. DH Kirby McMullen had an RBI single and second baseman Josh Rivera plated the tying and go-ahead runs with a two-run single.
Missouri tied the game on a ground out in the sixth inning, but McMullen’s sac fly put the Gators back in front in the bottom of the inning.
Jack Leftwich came on in relief of Tommy Mace in the sixth inning and retired all 11 batters he faced for the win.
Leftwich posted two wins this week against Florida State and Missouri. He worked four scoreless innings against the Seminoles on Tuesday night. In all, he logged eight hitless innings and retired 23 of the 24 batters he faced.
First baseman Kendrick Calilao had two RBIs in to lead the Gators to a 6-4 in the nightcap. He recorded RBI singles in the seventh and eighth innings in the win.
South Carolina 4, LSU 2 (7 Innings) (Game 1)
South Carolina 9, LSU 0 (7 Innings) (Game 2) (Baton Rouge)
Records: South Carolina (24-10, 10-5 SEC); LSU (21-14, 4-11 SEC)
Series: South Carolina wins series, 2-1
South Carolina rallied in its final at-bat for a 4-2 win over LSU in the first game on Saturday and then rode that momentum to a 9-0 win in the night cap to take the series from the Tigers in Baton Rouge.
It was the third SEC series win for the Gamecocks this season after losing the series opener.
Second baseman Braylon Wimmer and centerfielder Brady Allen both stroked two-run doubles in the decisive inning off LSU reliever and losing pitcher Devin Fontenot.
LSU scored single runs in the first and second inning to take a 2-0 lead. Third baseman Cade Doughty had an RBI double in the first inning and second baseman Zach Arnold had a sac fly in the second inning.
Andrew Peters worked two scoreless innings for the win. Brett Kerry pitched scoreless seventh for his third save.
The Gamecocks carried that momentum into the second game with a 9-0 win.
All nine starters had at least one hit and seven of the nine starters had at least one RBI.
Right fielder Andrew Eyster had three hits in the win. First baseman David Mendham stroked a two-run home run.
Will Sanders tossed six scoreless innings for his sixth win of the season.
Georgia 7, Kentucky 6 (Athens)
Records: Kentucky (22-10, 7-7 SEC); Georgia (22-12, 6-8 SEC)
Series: Series tied, 1-1
Georgia held on for an 8-7 win to even the series with Kentucky.
The Wildcats scored three times in the final two innings and the winning run at the plate in the ninth inning before Jaden Woods got TJ Collett to fly out to end the game.
UK had scored three runs off reliever Ben Harris in the eighth and ninth innings bringing Collett, who had homered earlier in the game, to the plate. Harris got the fly out and his first save.
Georgia catcher Corey Collins had a big night with a home run and four RBIs. He stroked a three-run home run in the first inning and added a sac fly in the seventh.
Third baseman Garrett Blaylock had three hits for the Dogs, including a solo homer in the fourth.
UK second baseman Chris Estep and centerfielder Aaron Schultz both had two RBIs.