HOOVER, Ala. – Vanderbilt starter Mason Hickman continued his dominance and right fielder JJ Bleday made history with five hits as the top-seed Commodores run-ruled No. 8-seed Auburn 11-1 in eight innings during the second round of the SEC Tournament on Wednesday night at Hoover Met. Stadium.
Bleday (5-for-5) became the ninth SEC player and first since 2003 to record five hits in an SEC Tournament game. The hit total marked a career high and was the most for a Commodore at the event. The junior’s performance helped Vandy (46-10) snap a four-game losing streak at the tournament while notching its 19th victory in the last 20 games.
Hickman (7-0) kept his perfect record intact, holding Auburn hitless (0-for-5) with runners aboard while limiting leadoff batters to 1-for-7 (.143). The right hander, who did not permit a hit until the fourth, punched out nine and permitted just two hits and a run while walking three across six-plus frames.
Stephen Scott (3-for-4) set a program best in league tournament games, driving in five runs. The senior plated a pair to cap a four-run third and clubbed a two-out solo home run in the fifth. The defending SEC Player of the Week has collected five homers in his last five games.
The Commodores scored in five different innings and collected 16 hits while batting .432 on the evening. Seven players logged at least one hit including Clarke and Pat DeMarco who produced three hits apiece.
Ty Duvall started the scoring with a one-out, two-run single in the second. Auburn (33-24) found minimal success on the mound, throwing three pitchers across the first three innings with each allowing at least one run. Starter Kyle Gray (2-4) permitted two hits, a run and a walk while striking out one in 1.1 innings.
Reliever Jake Eder dropped his ERA to 3.34 behind two hitless frames. The combination of Hickman and Eder limited the Tigers to 2-for-26 (.077) at the plate. Before Eder could return for the ninth, the Commodores scored three times in the eighth including a two-run single from Scott to close the game.
The Commodores turn to right-hander Drake Fellows (10-0, 4.34 ERA) on Thursday at 8 p.m. against the winner of No. 4-seed Mississippi State and No. 5-seed LSU. The contest can be seen on the SEC Network and heard on WNSR 560 AM/95.9 FM and VUCommodores.com.