SEC Mississippi Vanderbilt Baseball

SEC Mississippi Vanderbilt Baseball

Vanderbilt’s Pat DeMarco after hitting a three-run home run during the fifth inning of Sunday’s SEC tournament championship game against Ole Miss.

HOOVER, Ala. Ole Miss faded after a fast start, and the Rebels’ quest for back-to-back SEC Tournament championships ended in an 11-10 loss to Vanderbilt Sunday afternoon.

Taking advantage of early control problems by Vanderbilt pitchers the Rebels put up six runs in a 30-minute top of the first.

They had leads of 7-0 in the second and 9-1 in the third, but the Rebels – playing their sixth game in six days – were not able to sustain that pace.

The Commodores, the No. 1 tournament seed, won in a walk-off when cleanup hitter Philip Clarke singled on the first pitch from Ryan Olenek.

It was Clarke’s third hit of the day, the 17th for Vanderbilt which becomes the first team since 2007 to win the SEC’s regular season championship and tournament. It was Vanderbilt then, too.

Before Olenek Ole Miss reliever Austin Miller was scoreless for 2 2/3 innings with six strikeouts and one walk but walked the bases loaded after two quick outs in the ninth.

Will Ethridge, who started the 2-1 win over Missouri on Tuesday, allowed one unearned run in 1 2/3 innings.

“I thought from Ethridge on … Will was terrific. Miller was able to put some zeroes up. The curve ball’s good. We’ve seen it all year. It’s a swing-and-miss pitch. He had better command today. We just couldn’t get him through that inning,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said.

Clarke’s hit gave Vanderbilt (49-10) its first lead of the day.

Ole Miss catcher Cooper Johnson had three of the Rebels’ nine hits including a double in the ninth. He was left stranded at second as the go-ahead run.

Vanderbilt starter Patrick Raby, the school’s career wins leader, walked four and gave up RBI hits to Johnson and Cole Zabowski in the first. He left after two-thirds of an inning, the shortest outing of his career.

“The scouting report said he threw over 70 percent fastballs. When you’re putting that good of swings on his fastball that pitcher starts to get uncomfortable, and he has to start throwing different pitches,” Johnson said.

The biggest dent in the Rebels’ early lead came in the fourth.

Vanderbilt center fielder Pat DeMarco had a three-run home run as part of a five-run frame to make it a 9-8 game.

The Commodores tied the game at 10 in the bottom of the sixth after a two-out error by Ole Miss second baseman Jacob Adams prevented a 1-2-3 inning for Ethridge.

Harrison Ray’s RBI double was his third double of the game and the 15{sup}th{/sup} hit for Vanderbilt. Smoked down the third base line, it appeared foul on replay.

Vanderbilt, which finished with 17 hits, had a bye Tuesday and a day off Friday after winning games on Wednesday and Thursday.

Ole Miss began the day with hopes that its deep run at Hoover Met – with or without a win over Vanderbilt – would be enough to earn a home regional for this week’s NCAA Tournament.

The Rebels (37-25) were playing in the championship game for the fifth time under coach Mike Bianco. They were seeking their third championship in a rematch of the 2006 title game when they defeated Vanderbilt 9-3. They defeated LSU 9-1 last year.

Vanderbilt pitching issued seven walks over the first three innings.

“A team like that you have to expect is going to jump at you at some point,” Ole Miss outfielder Thomas Dillard said. “Everybody fought as hard as they could. A lot goes on the hitters for not adding to what we had, maybe getting complacent a little bit there.”

parrish.alford@journalinc.com Twitter: @parrishalford

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