Saturday SEC recaps: Georgia stuns Vandy; Tennessee in first place

 Barry Allen and Chris Lee   in Baseball

Kirby Connell photo courtesy of Tennessee Athletics.

TEAM OF THE DAY:

Georgia dominated the No. 1 Vanderbilt Commodores for the majority of the weekend. The Bulldogs capped its trip to Nashville with a 9-1 series-clinching win on Saturday. Georgia outscored Vandy 25-8 over the weekend and posted first series win over the No.1 team in the nation since beating Mississippi State in Athens in 1993. The Bulldogs hit nine home runs in the series and got dominant starting pitching. Right fielder Connor Tate was 7-for-11 with six runs scored, three home runs and six RBIs in the series. The Bulldogs led in all three games and held the Commodores scoreless in 22 of 26 innings in the series. Georgia has won the last two series with Vanderbilt after losing 10 straight series from 2009-18.

GAME OF THE DAY:

Tennessee posted its second straight come-from-behind win to defeat Florida 5-4. The Volunteers have won their first four SEC series for the first time since 1970. In addition, UT is in sole possession of first place in the SEC this late in the season for the first time since 2005. Tennessee strung together three straight two out hits from right fielder Jordan Beck, first baseman Luc Lipcius and catcher Connor Pavolony in the five-run sixth inning. Tennessee reliever Kirby Connell worked the final three innings for his first save.

PLAYER OF THE DAY:

Ole Miss catcher Hayden Dunhurst collected seven hits and five RBIs in the double header against Arkansas. Dunhurst went 5-for-5 with two RBIs in the opener. He stroked a two-run double that gave the Rebels a 2-0 first inning lead. He made it six straight hits with an RBI single in the first inning in game two. He capped the day with a two-run triple in the eighth inning in the nightcap. In the two games, went 7-for-10 with two extra base hits and five RBIs to lead the Rebels.

PITCHER OF THE DAY:

Georgia right-hander Jonathan Cannon, who looked an awful lot like the potential first-rounder we expected to see coming into the season, was the story of the day for the Bulldogs. He struck out nine, walked none and shut out Vandy for seven innings before leaving after 110 pitches. Cannon retired the Commodores in order in the first, fourth, sixth and seventh innings. He retired the last nine batters he faced in the win.

SATURDAY RECAPS:

Georgia 9, Vanderbilt 1 (Nashville)

Records: Vanderbilt (25-5, 9-3 SEC); Georgia (20-11, 5-7 SEC)

Series: Georgia won series, 2-1

If you'd said going into the Vanderbilt-Georgia series that one team would dominate the other through the long ball and lights-out starting pitching, anyone would have believed you. No one, however, would have believed the Bulldogs would be the team to do it.

It was Georgia, and not Vandy, that looked like the nation's No. 1 team most of the weekend, and that was the case again on Saturday in the Bulldogs' 9-1, series-clenching win.

The story of the day was Georgia right-hander Jonathan Cannon, who looked an awful lot like the potential first-rounder we expected to see coming into the season. Cannon struck out nine, walked none and shut out Vandy for seven innings before leaving after 110 pitches. 

Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said Cannon's fastball-slider combination particularly gave his hitters trouble. That fastball hit 95-97 on the stadium gun, and the velocity didn't wane at any point.

Right fielder Connor Tate was the hitting star, whacking his third home run of the series while notching three hits and three RBIs.

Georgia out-scored Vandy 25-8 in the series, but it was worse than that for the 'Dores, who may have lost pitcher Sam Hliboki for a while. The sophomore, who's excelled in long relief stints, left the game in the middle of the fourth inning clutching his right elbow. 

The Commodores were already without three starters--Tate Kolwyck (second base), Cooper Davis (left field) and Isaiah Thomas (right field)--for the weekend due to injuries. 

Tennessee 6, Florida 5 (Knoxville)

Records: Tennessee (27-5, 9-2 SEC); Florida (20-11, 5-6 SEC)

Series: Tennessee leads series, 2-0

Tennessee finds itself in unfamiliar territory.

For the first time since 1970, the Volunteers have won their first four SEC series.

In the process, Tennessee is in sole possession of first place in the SEC this late in the season for the first time since 2005.

Tennessee won its NCAA-leading 27th game with a 5-4 come-from-behind win over Florida.

Trailing 3-0, UT scored all five runs in the sixth inning to improve to an SEC-best 9-2 conference record.

Florida starter Franco Aleman put the first two runners on base in the first inning and the stymied the Vols until running into trouble in the sixth. Aleman walked the first two batters he faced in the inning and the Gators turned to Jack Leftwich, who walked the next two batters on eight pitches. UT third baseman Jake Rucker drew a bases-loaded walk to put UT on the board.

Trey Van Der Weid replaced Leftwich and got a ground ball double play that chased home Liam Spence. After the double play, UT strung together three straight two out hits from right fielder Jordan Beck, first baseman Luc Lipcius and catcher Connor Pavolony to give the Vols a 5-3 lead.

Tennessee reliever Kirby Connell worked the final three innings for his first save.

Florida led scored three runs in the fourth inning to take a 3-0 lead. Right fielder Sterlin Thompson belted a solo home run and shortstop Jordan Carrion added a two-run single. UF designated hitter Kirby McMullen had an RBI single in the ninth.

Tennessee has won all five SEC home games this season.

Florida’s road woes continued. The Gators are 4-20 in their last 24 SEC road games dating back to 2018. Florida has lost all five SEC road games this season to South Carolina and Tennessee.

Arkansas 7, Ole Miss 3 (Game 1)

Ole Miss 13, Arkansas 6 (Game 2) (Oxford)

Records: Arkansas (25-5, 8-3 SEC); Ole Miss (24-7, 8-3 SEC)

Series: Series tied, 1-1

The top two teams in the SEC Western Division didn’t really settle much on the field Saturday.

Arkansas posted a 7-3 come-from-behind win in the opener, while Ole Miss rebounded for a 13-6 win in the nightcap.

Both teams remain tied for first place with 8-3 conference records. They will decide the series and break the first place in the standings on Sunday.

Ole Miss jumped out to a 3-0 lead on the opener before Arkansas rallied for the win.

Gunnar Hoglund pitched five no-hit innings before the Razorbacks mounted the comeback.

Hoglund, who allowed two hits and five walks, exited after 5 1/3 innings

Arkansas tied the game with three runs in the sixth and tacked on two more runs in the seventh and eighth innings for the win. The Razorbacks were led by designated hitter Matt Goodheart, who went 3-for-4 and scored three runs. Right fielder Cayden Wallace had a two-run single.

Ryan Costeiu (5-0) recorded one out in the sixth inning for his fifth win. Kevin Kopps tossed three scoreless innings for his fourth save. He threw 41 pitches in the win.

Ole Miss catcher Hayden Dunhurst went 5-for-5 with two RBIs in the opener.

The Rebels jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the nightcap before the Razorbacks closed the gap to 8-6 in the eighth inning. Ole Miss tacked on five runs in the bottom of the eighth for the 13-6 win.

Dunhurst went 2-for-5 with a triple and three RBIs in game two. In the two games, went 7-for-10 with two extra base hits and five RBIs to lead the Rebels.

Second baseman Payton Chatagnier had three hits and right fielder Hayden Leatherwood belted a three-run home run in the third inning.

Doug Nikhazy recorded his third win on the mound and Taylor Broadway collected his eighth save. Broadway worked 2 2/3 innings and threw 44 pitches.

Centerfielder Christian Franklin homered for the Razorbacks. He finished the double header with two hits and three RBIs.

Alabama 6, Texas A&M 3 (College Station)

Records: Alabama (18-12, 4-7 SEC); Texas A&M (19-14, 3-8 SEC)

Series: Alabama leads series, 2-0

Alabama snapped a couple of lengthy losing streaks with its 6-3 series-clinching win at Texas A&M.

The Crimson Tide had lost its last nine SEC series before taking the first two games with the Aggies. Prior to Saturday, Alabama’s last series win came at home against South Carolina in 2019.

Alabama also snapped its nine series SEC road losing streak against the Aggies. The Crimson Tide has not won an SEC road series since beating Missouri in Columbia in 2018.

The Crimson Tide scored four runs in the third inning in Saturday’s win. Third baseman Zane Denton, catcher Sam Praytor, left fielder T.J. Reeves and first baseman Drew Williamson all drove in runs the frame. Denton finished 3-for-5 with two RBIs. Reeves had three hit and one RBI. Praytor had two RBIs.

Shortstop Kalae Harrison had two hits and two RBIs for the Aggies.

South Carolina 11, Missouri 1 (Columbia, SC)

Records: Missouri (11-18, 4-7 SEC); South Carolina (20-9, 7-4 SEC)

Series: Series tied, 1-1

South Carolina centerfielder Brady Allen sparked a stagnant offense with a three-run home run in the fifth inning to lead the Gamecocks to an 11-1 win over Missouri.

After dropping the opener 7-2, South Carolina trailed 1-0 in the fifth inning on Saturday before Allen hit his team-leading sixth home run in SEC play.  The Gamecocks broke the game open with six runs in the sixth inning. Allen drew a bases-loaded walk and scored on a wild pitch in the sixth inning.

Brannon Jordan tossed five innings for his fourth win. Daniel Lloyd added four scoreless innings for his first save.

Mississippi State 7, Auburn 2 (Auburn)

Records: Mississippi State (23-7, 7-4 SEC); Auburn (12-15, 1-10 SEC)

Series: MSU leads series, 2-0

Mississippi State belted three home runs in its 7-2 series-clinching win at Auburn.

Third baseman Kamren James, right fielder Tanner Allen and first baseman Josh Hatcher all homered and accounted for all seven runs in the win. James had an RBI single in the first and a go-ahead two-run homer in the third to put MSU up 3-2. Allen smacked a three-run homer in the fourth inning. Hatcher added a solo blast in the sixth.

Auburn is off to its worst SEC start in school history. The last SEC team to open the season 1-10 in conference play was Kentucky in 2005.

Will Bednar (2-0) held the Tigers to one run and four hits in seven innings for the win. He struck out seven and did not walk a batter.

Auburn designated hitter Cam Hill hit a solo home run in the second inning and shortstop Ryan Bliss added an RBI single in the eighth to account for the Tigers offense.

LSU 8, Kentucky 6 (Lexington)

Records: LSU (20-11, 3-8 SEC); Kentucky (19-9, 5-6 SEC)

Series: LSU leads series, 2-0

LSU left fielder Gavin Dugas and designated hitter Cade Beloso both had two RBIs to lead the Tigers to an 8-6 win at Kentucky. It marks the Tigers first SEC series win of the season.

Dugas hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning. Beloso had a sac fly in the third and RBI single in the fifth.

Shortstop Jordan Thompson and third baseman Cade Doughty combined for five hits for the Tigers.

AJ Labas worked six innings for the win, while Garrett Edwards worked a perfect ninth inning for his first save.

UK right fielder Cam Hill went 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs.