HOOVER, Ala. - Vanderbilt fell 3-0 to Mississippi State Sunday afternoon at Regions Park in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.
The Commodores (33-26) looked to be off to a hot start in the first inning getting runners on second and third with one out before Conrad Gregor lined into an inning-ending double play. The Bulldogs (39-22) took the lead in the third scratching out a run. Vandy starter Tyler Beede loaded the bases with two outs before a wild pitch bounced to the backstop to give the Bulldogs the first run of the game. Mississippi State widened the gap in the fourth when Beede loaded the bases with a hit by pitch. Steven Rice entered the game and walked Adam Frazier on four pitches to force in a run. Drew VerHagen came on for the Dores and was greeted by a sacrifice fly from Brent Brownlee before getting out of the inning.
Three runs were more than enough for Mississippi State reliever Ross Mitchell, who entered the game in the top of the fourth inning. Mitchell (2-0) turned in five scoreless innings to earn the win. The lefty worked out of trouble in his first inning then cruised into the ninth before allowing the first two Commodores to reach base. Bulldogs' pitcher Caleb Reed put out the rally with a double play in the ninth before Chris Stratton entered to get the final out.
Beede took the loss for the Dores allowing three runs on four hits and three walks over 3.1 innings. The Vandy bullpen worked 5.2 scoreless innings allowing only three hits and one walk. The Commodores' offense had six hits in the loss.
Vanderbilt's nine-game winning streak was snapped with the loss and marked just the second time this season VU had been shutout. Spencer Navin, Connor Harrell and Mike Yastrzemski were all named to the All-Tournament Team following the game.
The Commodores will host a watch party for the NCAA Selection Show at Commodore Grille inside the Holiday Inn on West End tomorrow at 11 a.m. CT.
SEC All-Tournament Team P Brian Johnson, Florida P Jonathan Holder, Mississippi State C Spencer Navin, Vanderbilt 1B Matt Snyder, Ole Miss 2B Casey Turgeon, Florida 3B Thomas McCarthy, Kentucky SS Adam Frazier, Mississippi State OF Connor Harrell, Vanderbilt; Mike Yastrzemski, Vanderbilt OF Mason Katz, LSU; Justin Shafer, Florida OF Demarcus Henderson, Mississippi State DH Brian Johnson, Florida
Vanderbilt Head Coach Tim Corbin Opening statement: "You just have to congratulate Mississippi State. They played a very good game. They held us down. (Ross) Mitchell was very good. After we got (Brandon) Woodruff out of the ballgame and after we weren't able to score in that first inning, it's like they carried some defensive and pitching momentum into the rest of the game. We really couldn't get much going. I think we had a few opportunities if you count that first inning. There was another inning where we had runners at second and third. Connor (Harrell) hit a well-hit ball, but the kid made a heck of a play and stranded runs that inning, and we had second and third and struck out. That stuff happens. You have to credit the guy who pitched. I just credit Mississippi State. They did a nice job."
On his thoughts going into NCAA Regionals and what seed Vanderbilt will receive... "I don't know how high we are. It really doesn't matter where we go at this point. I told the guys that I don't (care) where they put us. They don't care. It doesn't matter. We've seen everything and faced everything. I don't know where we're stationed in terms of two-seeds. We're looking forward to playing again, that's for sure."
On the team playing with backs against the wall this season and being prepared for what's ahead... "I don't know. I would say we've had some good teams before, but this one is pretty durable. They've been tested in a lot of different ways, mentally and physically. I'm really proud of them. I told them that right after the game. It stinks to come down here, and we can't put things in the proper perspective. It (stinks) to lose, but when you come down here six times and you're only successful once, it puts a kind of damper on the day. As a whole - and Connor alluded to it, because I told them in the dugout - we really battled our way in the last month. I feel like we can handle anything now. We have to get a little better offensively in order for us to take steps forward. Pitching-wise and defensively, I think we're pretty solid. I like what we're throwing out there. I found a lot of good heartbeats this weekend. Jared Miller and his fight there at the end and Brian Miller. I love our team, but I loved them when we weren't playing as well, and I reminded them of that, too, because it's one thing to lose games, and it's another thing to do the same things every day. They're just very consistent people, and that's why they're deserving of successes."
On the emotion of the game... "This tournament's really good for our team. All the young guys having experience the first time around this kind of crowd, this kind of environment. It's like playing for a championship, and I think all these games are different in a little way in different aspects of the game. As you see, fundamental defense and pitching win these types of games. It's always been done with situational clutch hitting and today, those hits just didn't fall."
On if he thought he had a hit for an RBI in the first inning... "How the defense was shifted, playing the corner game and giving the middle away, I was a little early on the ball. All I could really do was put the ball up the middle and get a run. On my part, I should have looked middle, but it was a hard hit ball. The kid made a really nice play. That was kind of the story of the day. Those clutch hits didn't get through."
On the emotion of the game... "I think what we're going to take away from this weekend is our play for the entire week, the body of work; proud of what we did up to this point. We ran into a pretty tough arm today. There's a bigger championship coming. We're going to move forward and take the positive from it."
On Mississippi State pitcher Ross Mitchell and how he kept Vanderbilt off-balance... "He's a good pitcher. He kept the ball down. He kept the ball out. Pitched to his strengths. I think he understood what a college hitter does. He was able to keep the ball down and away. You have to credit him. Obviously we didn't make the necessary adjustments, but at the same time, he threw well and it worked for him."