South Carolina 7, Vanderbilt 4 (11 innings)
If the opening game dictates how the rest of the tournament will play out, it’s going to be a wild week in Hoover.
The Gamecocks and Commodores got the festivities started at the ripe hour of 9:30 a.m. local time down in Alabama, but they certainly didn’t play like they had a case of the morning blues.
Each side recorded three runs in the first two innings. South Carolina’s came on a two-run home run by Carlos Cortes in the first and a solo shot from Jonah Bride in the second, while Vandy’s Will Toffey made the most of a bases-loaded at-bat in the bottom of the second, clearing the bases with a three-run double.
South Carolina wasn’t quite done with the homers, yet. Justin Row led off the third inning with a solo shot to give the Gamecocks a 4-3 lead. A lead which they would hold until the bottom of the seventh inning when Vandy’s Connor Kaiser hit a solo shot of his own to tie the game at four.
The game would remain tied at four for... quite some time. After squandering chances in the ninth and tenth, South Carolina was determined to not do it again in the 11th. They didn’t. Riley Hogan drew a bases loaded walk to push the lead to 5-4, then Alex Destino doubled home two more for the eventual winning margin of 7-4.
Tyler Johnson picked up the win for South Carolina, striking out eight Commodores over the final 4.1 innings of the game. On the other side, Reed Hayes too the loss for Vandy.
South Carolina’s first SEC Tournament victory in four years moves them to the double-elimination second round where they’ll face Kentucky on Wednesday.
Mizzou 12, Texas A&M 7
It took a while, thanks in part to a lengthy delay, but the Missouri Tigers emerged victorious on Tuesday evening.
Coming away with a 12-7 win over the Texas A&M Aggies, the Tigers now move on to face the LSU Tigers, the SEC West champions, on Wednesday afternoon.
Mizzou’s offense helped carry them to victory, scoring the aforementioned 12 runs on 11 hits. The biggest hit of the day perhaps was Robbie Glendinning’s grand slam that helped vault the Tigers over the Aggies on the scoreboard.
Glendinning’s grand slam was one of two hits that the second baseman had on the day. It was also one of three homers smacked by the Tigers as Matt Berler and Chris Cornelius accounted for dingers as well.
Tanner Houck didn’t have the best of days on the mound. Houck pitched 4.1 innings, allowed six hits, six earned runs (seven were scored during his outing), issued three walks and had four strikeouts. Luckily, his offense was able to pick him up in the end as well as his fellow pitcher, Andy Toelken. Toelken, who was the pitcher of record, pitched 4.2 innings of shutout ball in Hoover. He allowed just three hits, zero earned runs, punched out five batters and walked only two. Both Houck and Toelken allowed a combined two extra base hits, a pair of doubles.
The Aggies were boosted by the middle of the order, but were held ineffective elsewhere. Braden Shewmake, Hunter Coleman and Blake Kopetsky went a combined 6-13 at the dish, while the other six were a combined 2-14. Thus, you don’t have to go too far to figure out why the Aggies lost.
Pitching was of great concern as well, as the Aggies had to dig deep into their bullpen. Five pitchers were used by the Aggies on Tuesday, and four of them allowed at least one earned run. Kaylor Chafin took the brunt of the damage, allowing five earned runs on four hits and three home runs. Chafin also wound up being the pitcher of record in the matchup after going three innings. John Doxakis was bounced early after getting the start, as the Aggies pitcher allowed three earned runs in one inning of work without allowing a single XBH.
Auburn 5, Ole Miss 4
The impromptu final game of the day also ended up being the closest game of Tuesday’s opening festivities, as the Auburn Tigers defeated the Ole Miss Rebels, 5-4.
Ole Miss got the scoring started, recording a run in each of the first two innings thanks to an RBI double from Nick Fortes and an RBI single from Kyle Watson.
Things were looking very promising for starting pitcher Brady Feigl and the Rebels, as Feigl kept the Tigers off the board for the first four innings. Then, in the fourth inning, the wheels fell off.
Corey Davis left off the Auburn fourth with a single, but Feigl recorded a strikeout and a fielder’s choice to the next two batters and it looked like he would be able to get out of the inning. Blake Logan kept the inning alive with a single, though, and Will Holland doubled home Sam Gillikin, who replaced Davis on the fielder’s choice, to give Auburn their first run.
Then, with two on and two out, Jonah Todd stepped to the plate. Here’s what happened next.
With one swing of the bat, Todd put Auburn on top. He would be stranded on third, but the damage was done.
However, Ole Miss wouldn’t go quietly. In the top of the sixth inning, Fortes reached on a wild throw on a sacrifice bunt that brought Will Golsan home to tie the game at three. The tie would be short-lived, though, as Blake Logan stepped to the plate in the bottom of the frame.
Auburn would add a big insurance run in the eighth inning as Luke Jarvis scampered home on a Dallas Woolfolk wild pitch to extend the lead to 5-3.
Ryan Olenek made the game interesting in the top of the ninth with a one out solo home run, but Casey Mize was able to retire the next two batters to give the Tigers the 5-4 win.
Auburn advances to the second round where they’ll play top-ranked Florida on Wednesday.