HOOVER, Ala.: No. 15 South Carolina (42-14) put together a 18-12 record in conference play to earn the No. 4 seed in the SEC Tournament and the first-round bye that comes with it. But the Gamecocks had to wait until late Tuesday night to find out who they'll open the tournament against tonight.
USC's opponent - No. 18 Mississippi State - comes as little surprise, as the fifth-seeded Bulldogs needed only to muscle past No. 12-seed Georgia (26-29-1) Tuesday night at Hoover Met to climb into the double-elimination stage.
Mississippi State (36-20) did that in thrilling fashion, scoring the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning to edge Georgia 5-4 in the tournament's fourth game Tuesday.
Mississippi State entered the top of the ninth inning with a 4-2 lead, but Georgia tied the game with a two-out rally. After putting runners on first and second in the bottom of the 10th with no outs, Mississippi State scored the winning run when Georgia catcher Brandon Stephens picked up Jake Richardson's sacrifice bunt and threw it past first baseman Heath Holder and into right field.
Gavin Collins scored from second on the play, bringing the Bulldogs out of the dugout to celebrate and allowing them to survive another day in the tournament.
South Carolina and Mississippi State haven't met since USC's first game of the SEC Tournament last season, when the Bulldogs beat the Gamecocks 5-3. Mississippi State went 3-1 against USC in 2013, and would go on to the College World Series, where they were swept in the CWS Finals by UCLA.
With a victory over the Bulldogs, South Carolina will face the winner of game seven (Florida vs. Kentucky) at roughly 7:30 p.m. Thursday night. If the Gamecocks lose to Mississippi State Wednesday night, they'll play the loser of game seven at roughly 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
Junior lefty Jordan Montgomery (7-4, 3.26 ERA) will start on the mound for South Carolina. Mississippi State junior right-hander Trevor Fitts (4-3, 2.59 ERA) will get the start for the Bulldogs.
Sophomore second baseman Max Schrock and junior right fielder Connor Bright are both listed as questionable for the game. Holbrook said Monday he'd like to get Bright, whose last start came April 25 against Alabama, some live at-bats before the Gamecocks begin NCAA Tournament play. Schrock last played Thursday in South Carolina's 4-3 victory at Vanderbilt.
OTHER DAY ONE RESULTS.
Vanderbilt 3, Tennessee 2. The six-seeded Commodores scored three runs in the first two innings and held on from there to edge 11-seed Tennessee in the SEC Tournament opener. No. 19 Vanderbilt (41-16) moves on to face No. 14 LSU at 9:30 a.m. today in the first game of the double-elimination stage of the tournament.
Vanderbilt starter Walker Buehler (10-2) picked up the win in eight innings of work, allowing two runs on six hits and a walk while striking out five. Vanderbilt right-hander Carson Fulmer, who started the Commodores' 9-3 win over South Carolina last Friday, pitched the ninth inning to earn his 10th save of the season.
Tennessee freshman right-hander Hunter Martin (4-4) suffered the loss as the Volunteers fell to 31-23 on the season. A bubble team entering the SEC Tournament, Tennessee may have needed to upset its in-state rival to ensure an NCAA Tournament berth.
Arkansas 4, Texas A&M 0. Thanks to a three-run seventh inning and solid pitching from a pair of young arms, seven-seed Arkansas (36-21) downed 10-seed Texas A&M (33-24) to advance to the double-elimination stage of the SEC Tournament. The Razorbacks will face two-seed Ole Miss in the 12:30 p.m. game today.
Sophomore right-hander Trey Killian (4-8) earned the win on the mound for Arkansas, scattering four hits and two walks over six shutout innings before being relieved in favor of freshman right-hander Zach Jackson in the seventh. Jackson pitched three perfect innings, striking out four, to earn his second save of the season.
Texas A&M junior right-hander Daniel Mengden (4-8) pitched 6 1/3 innings and was charged with all four of Arkansas' runs.
Kentucky 7, Alabama 1. Behind a three-RBI performance from leadoff hitter Austin Cousino, nine-seed Kentucky took down eight-seed Alabama 7-1 in the first round of the SEC Tournament.
The Wildcats improved to 33-22 on the season with the victory, and will face No. 7 Florida at 4:30 p.m. today in the double-elimination round of the tournament. A.J. Reed (11-2) earned the win on the mound for Kentucky, tossing five innings and allowing one run on six hits and two walks.
The left-handed junior also went 1-for-3 from the plate with two walks. No. 24 Alabama fell to 34-22 on the season with the loss.
UPDATED TOURNAMENT BRACKET
(All times Central)
Tuesday, May 20
Game 1 Vanderbilt 3, Tennessee 2.
Game 2 Arkansas 4, Texas A&M 0.
Game 3 Kentucky 7, Alabama 1.
Game 4 Mississippi State 5, Georgia 4.
Wednesday, May 21
Game 5 9:30 a.m. #3 LSU vs. Vanderbilt [SPSO]
Game 6 TBD #2 Ole Miss vs. Arkansas [SPSO]
Game 7 4:30 p.m. #1 Florida vs. Kentucky [CSS]
Game 8 TBD #4 South Carolina vs. Mississippi State [CSS]
Thursday, May 22
Game 9 9:30 a.m. Loser Game 5 vs. Loser Game 6 [SPSO]
Game 10 TBD Loser Game 7 vs. Loser Game 8 [SPSO]
Game 11 4:30 p.m. Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6 [CSS]
Game 12 TBD Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8 [CSS]
Friday, May 23
Game 13 3:00 p.m. Winner Game 9 vs. Loser Game 11 [CSS]
Game 14 TBD Winner Game 10 vs. Loser 12 [CSS]
Saturday, May 24
Game 15 Noon Winner Game 13 vs. Winner Game 11 [ESPNEWS]
Game 16 TBD Winner Game 14 vs. Winner Game 12 [ESPNEWS]
Sunday, May 25
Game 17 3:30 p.m. Winner Game 15 vs. Winner Game 16 [ESPN2]
[SPSO] - SportSouth; [CSS] - Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast;
All games available in HD and on WatchESPN and/or ESPN3
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