May 25, 2011
HOOVER, ALA.-----Third-ranked Vanderbilt posted a 10-0 SEC Tournament win over Georgia Wednesday as a pair of Commodores combined on a one-hitter at Regions Park.
Georgia (28-29) entered the tournament as one of the top defensive teams in the league (.975 Fielding Percentage) but a couple of miscues in the second frame led to a pair of unearned runs as the Commodores built a 3-0 lead. Vanderbilt (45-9) went up 1-0 courtesy of a leadoff home run from Jason Esposito, his seventh of the year. An error by third baseman Curt Powell allowed Conor Harrell to reach, and he scored on a two-out, RBI-single by Tony Kemp. After registering a stolen base, Kemp scored on a grounder by Anthony Gomez.
The Bulldogs missed a chance to rally back in the fourth, loading the bases with one out. During Chase Davidson's at bat, Vanderbilt freshman right-hander T.J. Pecoraro had to leave the game due to an unspecified injury. Freshman left-hander Kevin Ziomek came on with a 3-2 count on Davidson. He reached on a walk and then Ziomek issued a free pass to Hester. Shortstop Kyle Farmer was already on base after a leadoff error charged to Esposito. Then, Ziomek came back to register strikeouts of Powell and catcher Joey Delmonico to keep it 3-0. Delmonico had Georgia's lone hit, an infield single to start the third.
Vanderbilt added to its lead in the fifth and sixth frames to go up 6-0. In the fifth, catcher Curt Casali smacked a one-out double, and then Esposito made it 4-0 with a two-out, run-scoring single. In the sixth, Kemp notched another RBI-single, scoring Harrell while Aaron Westlake picked up a two-out, run-scoring bloop double to left.
The Bulldogs went to the bullpen in the seventh as senior Eric Swegman made his return to action. He had been sidelined with a shoulder injury since a scooter accident on April 8th. Palazzone surrendered six runs (four earned) on 11 hits with no walks and four strikeouts in six innings. Swegman faced just two batters, issuing a walk and a single before the Bulldogs looked to junior Chase Hawkins. Vanderbilt would score four more runs that frame and the 10-run rule ended the contest. Palazzone dropped to 9-4 while Ziomek improved to 3-0.
"I felt like Vanderbilt had a good approach at the plate, they got runners on and moved them over and did a good job of two-out hitting," said Palazzone.
Before Wednesday, the last time Georgia was limited to one hit came in 2009 when Brett Eibner of fifth-ranked Arkansas blanked Georgia 2-0. Also, it was the third time that Georgia has been shut out this season.
"We didn't play very well, and I'm real disappointed in our lineup because nobody had real good at bats," said Georgia coach David Perno. "Vanderbilt has a great team, and they did a good job against us tonight. We didn't get a lot of opportunities, and the one time we did load the bases, we struck out twice, once looking and the other on three pitches swinging. We need (Alex) Wood to get us off to a good start and need to some more fight from our lineup."
Georgia now plays No. 8 seed Auburn (29-28) in an elimination game Thursday which will start 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first contest of the day. Thursday will begin with an elimination game featuring Arkansas versus Mississippi State that will start at 10:30 a.m. EDT. The Tigers fell to top-ranked South Carolina 7-3 in their first round contest.
Georgia will start sophomore left-hander Alex Wood (4-7, 4.80 ERA) while the Tigers will go with junior right-hander Derk Varnadore (6-2, 3.75 ERA). On May 7th in Auburn, Varnadore struck out seven in a complete game shutout of the Bulldogs, winning 3-0. Wood pitched game one of the Auburn series earlier this month, and he got a no decision, pitching seven innings and allowing two runs (one earned) on eight hits.