By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
Video Highlights at the bottom of this story: The Bulldogs capture the 2012 SEC Baseball Championship.
HOOVER, Ala. – Recapping MSU’s 3-0 win over Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament championship game at Regions Park on Sunday.
• The buzz: Mississippi State won its first SEC Tournament title in seven years, and in typical fashion. The pitching locked things down, and the offense got on the board early. The three MSU runs scored on 1) a wild pitch, 2) a bases-loaded walk and 3) a sac fly. The win was the fifth of the week for State (39-22), which played six games in as many days. Shortstop Adam Frazier was named tournament MVP, and he was joined on the all-tourney team by pitcher outfielder Demarcus Henderson and pitcher Jonathan Holder,
• Big inning: MSU was already up 1-0 when it added two more in the fourth. Mitch Slauter led off with a single, and then Vandy starter Tyler Beede loaded the bases. He was pulled, and reliever Steven Rice walked the lone batter he faced, Frazier, to make it 2-0. Brent Brownlee followed with a sac fly RBI to score Sam Frost.
• Key stats: Vandy left 10 men on base, MSU nine. … Vandy stole no bases. It had six yesterday vs. Florida. … Today’s attendance: 12,526, mostly State fans.
• MSU at the plate: MSU had seven hits. … Hunter Renfroe had two hits, as did Slauter, who scored a run. Slauter’s double went for naught in the fifth as Henderson was gunned down at home plate. … Frazier was 1 of 3 with a run and RBI.
• Vanderbilt at the plate: The Commodores (33-26) six hits. … Conrad Gregor and Will Cooper each had a double.
• MSU on the mound: Reliever Ross Mitchell (2-0) got the win with five-plus shutout innings, giving up five hits, two walks and striking out three. Two of those strikeouts were very big, to end the seventh and eighth innings and stymie Vandy rallies. … Starter Brandon Woodruff tossed three innings, allowing one hit with two strikeouts and two walks. … After Caleb Reed got a double-play ball, Chris Stratton recorded the final out for his first save of the year.
• Vanderbilt on the mound: Starter Tyler Beede (1-5) lasted 3 1/3 innings, giving up three runs (all earned) on four htis with two strikeouts and three walks. … Vandy used five relievers.
• Bottom line: This team has won eight of its last nine games and will spell trouble for somebody in NCAA regional play. We don’t yet know where the Bulldogs will play, but we’ll find out tomorrow. The pitching staff will have time to rest until then, but it showed no signs of exhaustion today.
From The Associated Press
HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — Ross Mitchell helped Mississippi State continue its torrid pitching and claim the Southeastern Conference tournament title with a 3-0 win over Vanderbilt on Sunday.
The Bulldogs (39-22) ride a hot streak into the NCAA regionals, having won eight of their last nine games after league coaches picked them to finish fifth in the SEC West. It’s Mississippi State’s seventh SEC tournament title and first since 2005.
The overflow crowd of 12,526 was mostly decked out in Mississippi State maroon.
“I don’t know if you could have a better homefield advantage 2 1/2 hours from your campus than we did today,” Bulldogs coach John Cohen said.
The pitching was awfully good, too.
Caleb Reed relieved Mitchell, who’s from Murfreesboro, Tenn., and got Connor Castellano to ground into a double play in the ninth before hitting Andrew Harris with a pitch. Staff ace Chris Stratton finished it off when Tony Kemp grounded to short with runners on the corners.
“Caleb came in after me and had an amazing double play that Adam (Frazier) turned,” Mitchell said. “Stratton came in and does what he does. He’s the best pitcher in the nation.”
Starter Brandon Woodruff allowed one hit and two walks in the first three innings. Mitchell gave up five hits.
Frazier, the tournament MVP, scored one run and drove home another and finished with 12 hits in six games.
Mississippi State, which came in ranked 11th in the SEC in hitting and first in earned run average, allowed seven runs in its five wins at Regions Park.
Frazier scored the game’s first run on a two-out wild pitch by Tyler Beede (1-5) in the third inning. The Bulldogs scored twice in the fourth with a single, two walks — one with the bases loaded — and a hit batter to take a 3-0 lead.
Steven Rice walked Frazier, the only batter he faced, on four straight pitches to bring home a run.
“That’s how we play,” Frazier said. “A sac bunt here and there, a sac fly, a walk or hit by pitch. That’s what we need to get runs in sometimes.
“Three runs up for our pitching staff, we felt pretty comfortable.”
It’s only the second championship game shutout in the 15-year-old current format, the first being Florida’s 5-0 shutout of the Commodores last season. They are 1-5 in the SEC title game under coach Tim Corbin.
“We’re proud of what we’ve done to this point,” Vandy’s Connor Harrell said. “We ran into a tough arm, but there’s a bigger championship coming.”
Vanderbilt had made the title game with a five-run, six-steal ninth inning to beat Florida. This time, the Commodores hit into two double plays and left 10 men on base.
Conrad Gregor lined to first base for an inning-ending double play in the first with runners at first and third, and the Commodores got few scoring opportunities after that.
“That was kind of the story of the day,” Gregor said. “Those close hits didn’t get through.”
Added Corbin: “It’s like they carried that defensive and pitching momentum the rest of the game.”
Now, the Commodores await their NCAA regional destination after starting the season 13-19. They had won nine in a row going into Sunday.
“It really doesn’t matter where we go at this point,” Corbin said. “They don’t care. It doesn’t matter. We’ve seen everything and faced everything. We’re looking forward to playing again, that’s for sure.”
Read more in Monday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.