Things didn’t start well for Vanderbilt on Sunday, but the day ended with the Commodores winning the SEC Baseball Tournament Championship.
DH Philip Clarke delivered the walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Commodores to a come-from-behind 11-10 win Hoover, Alabama. With two outs in the inning, Vanderbilt 3B Austin Martin, RF JJ Bleday and SS Ethan Paul drew back-to-back-to-back walks, prompting a Rebels pitching change. It made no difference to Clarke, who sent it into right center field, which can be seen in the video below.
Ole Miss jumped out to a 6-0 in the top of the first inning. The Rebels would extend that big lead to 7-0 in the second inning and 9-1 in the third. But Vanderbilt wasn’t going down easy.
The Commodores scored two runs in the bottom of the third inning to cut it to 9-3. They followed that up with five more runs in the bottom of the fourth, making it a 9-8 ball game. Ole Miss appeared to regain some momentum with a run in the top of the fifth inning (10-8), but the Dores scored the next two runs, knotting things up 10-10 after six innings.
The Rebels put the pressure on Vanderbilt in the top of the ninth. With the score still 10-10, Ole Miss C Cooper Johnson doubled with one out, but he was stranded on second base.
Non-reviews loom large. A controversial call at second base in the first led to Ole Miss runs scoring looked like it could have been reversed if the umpiring crew had called for a review (force outs cannot be challenged until the final two innings). In the sixth inning, the Rebels did not challenge the hit by Harrison Ray to tie the game 10-10. The broadcast replay of Ray’s hit showed the ball landed foul, but the broadcast crew said observed there was no protest from the Ole Miss dugout.
Vanderbilt has all the SEC bragging rights, having won the regular-season title and the tournament championship. VU entered Sunday 3-0 in Hoover, earning byes on Tuesday and Friday. The Commodores took care of No. 8-seed Auburn, No. 4-seed Mississippi State and No. 5-seed LSU to get to the Championship Game. Ole Miss won on Tuesday again No. 10-seed Missouri, but dropped Wednesday’s game against No. 2-seed Arkansas. The Rebels fought off elimination Thursday and Friday, beating No. 6-seed Texas A&M and No. 2-seed Arkansas, to make it to Saturday’s single-elimination semifinals and beat No. 3-seed Georgia 5-3.
The Dores, Rebels and a few other SEC teams will find out who they face in the Regional round of the NCAA Tournament when the bracket is unveiled Monday.
VANDERBILT WALKS IT OFF TO WIN THE SEC TOURNAMENT!!!!! pic.twitter.com/aSYa27G2mS
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) May 26, 2019