HOOVER, Ala. - Even though the weather forecast was ominous, Day 2 of the 2011 Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament in Hoover, Ala. started just like every other Day 2 had; with two losers bracket games and two teams eliminated from play.
Game 5: Arkansas 7, Mississippi State 2
Arkansas found itself in the losers bracket after Alabama scored five runs in the first inning Wednesday, and the Razorbacks never recovered. On Thursday, Arkansas jumped out with four runs in the first inning against Mississippi State; the Bulldogs never overcame the deficit.
It was a lot better start for us today," said Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn. "I give credit to Bo Bigham in that first at-bat. He fouled off a lot of pitches and finally got a base hit. I think their starting pitcher threw 25 pitches before he got his first out. We did a good job going the other way, hitting some balls through the four hole and we weren't trying to do too much.
Van Horn admitted that even with a head start, Arkansas starting pitcher DJ Baxendale didnt have his best stuff. Baxendale lasted five innings and gave up six hits and two runs before he was pulled for reliever Barrett Astin who shut the door on any potential Bulldog comeback.
Astin struck out four Mississippi State hitters through four innings and did not allow a run. He earned his third save of the season.
With the win, Arkansas advances to play the loser of Thursdays Alabama-Florida game. The Razorbacks await their opponent for a 3 p.m. CT Friday game. The game will be broadcast on CSS.
Mississippi State heads back to Starkville, Miss. after being eliminated by Arkansas. The Bulldogs have to wait for Selection Monday to find out if theyve done enough for an NCAA Tournament bid.
"I like our chances," said Mississippi State head coach John Cohen. "We have played well enough this year to deserve a spot. I feel like if our kids get in a tournament, we have a chance to win some games. We have a chance to win a regional."
Game 6: Georgia 3, Auburn 2
The Georgia Bulldogs were run-ruled Wednesday by Vanderbilt and only mustered one hit on their way into the losers bracket. Through four innings the Bulldogs were still scoreless, down 2-0, and had only three hits during the entire SEC Tournament.
Slowly Georgia strung together a few hits, but couldnt break onto the scoreboard until head coach David Perno called his players together in the dugout prior to the sixth inning, and told them to change their approach at the plate.
He Auburn pitcher Derek Varnadore looked like he was knocking the bat out of our hands, said Perno. He was throwing fastballs and we were just popping up and we went into two-strike approach right out of the gate. Even with a 0-0 count, we just tried to shorten our strokes and put the ball in play.
Zach Cone hit an RBI double and Chase Davidson an RBI single to lead the charge to overcome a 2-0 Auburn lead in the sixth. Georgias 3-run sixth inning provided enough ammunition to hold off the Tigers.
Bulldog starter Alex Wood threw his first-ever complete-game in the win, giving up two runs and seven hits.
With elimination, Auburns season ends with a 29-29 overall record. Since NCAA rules require a team to have a record above .500 to be eligible for the NCAA Tournament, the Tigers are done.
Georgia will move ahead to Friday and await the loser of Thursdays South Carolina-Vanderbilt game. CSS will broadcast the game, which will begin shortly after Fridays Game 1 ends.