HOOVER, Ala. - Senior RHP Tyler Myers turned in the performance of a lifetime on Friday in Hoover, and it proved to be more than enough as the Rebel starter outdueled Vanderbilt's Jack Leiter for a 4-1 victory in the SEC Tournament.
Myers (4-2) was starting for just the third time of his entire career, and yet turned in career marks in nearly every statistical category. Myers worked seven complete without allowing a run, and had allowed just four hits by the time he exited in the eighth inning. Although one run was credited to the Rebel starter after his departure late in the game, Myers effectively worked through the Vanderbilt lineup three times through to earn the win in his start.
Brandon Johnson, meanwhile, filled in for the final 2.0 IP to earn the righty's first career save in a Rebel uniform. The combined work of Myers and Johnson held off any hopes of a Commodore resurgence whereas the Rebels did just enough at the plate, including a late homer from Kevin Graham, to ultimately emerge victorious by a score of 4-1.
Ole Miss drew first blood, loading the bases with no outs in the second inning. Peyton Chatagnier won an eight-pitch battle, forcing Leiter to walk home the first run. Then Calvin Harris drove in the second, sending Tim Elko home on a sac fly to left center, making it 2-0 Rebels.
Meanwhile, Myers just kept stringing together outs. Enrique Bradfield and Dominic Keegan both singled in the third as the Commodores looked poised to answer Ole Miss two-run second, but Myers struck out Spencer Jones to escape the jam.
In the fourth, Myers worked through the inning with little issue, much thanks to a spectacular defensive play by Hayden Dunhurst on a bunt attempt. The junior out of Houston kept rolling, retiring Vandy in order in the fifth and sixth innings.
Leiter found his groove as well after the hiccup in the second. The MLB Draft darling retired the Rebels in order in the fourth and fifth, then allowed one baserunner on an error in the sixth before Ole Miss finally chased him in the seventh.
Leatherwood earned his way on with a hit-by-pitch, and pinch runner Cade Sammons quickly moved up on a stolen base. TJ McCants cashed in, singling to right to make it a 3-0 Rebel advantage and bring Nick Maldonado out of the bullpen.
Maldonado escaped the seventh without further damage, but Graham tacked on an insurance run, blasting a home run off of his own picture on the scoreboard in right field to make it a 4-0 lead.
Vanderbilt finally chased Myers with a double and a walk to start the eighth inning, bringing Brandon Johnson out of the bullpen. A single past Jacob Gonzalez at shortstop loaded the bases, but Johnson won a nine-pitch battle with Keegan, inducing a double play to trade two outs for one run. Another groundout ended the frame with the score 4-1.
Johnson would work the ninth with ease, inducing two fly outs and a ground out en route to the junior's first career save in a Rebel uniform.
Ole Miss now advances to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament for the third consecutive time and will face Arkansas tomorrow night in a single-elimination game with a trip to the championship game on the line.
- Ole Miss improves to 41-18 on the season, and 3-1 in the SEC Tournament.
- Ole Miss advances to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament for the third straight year.
- The Rebels officially completed the season victory over Vanderbilt, improving to 3-2 on the season vs. the Commodores.
- Ole Miss pitchers have a 2.55 ERA in the SEC Tournament with 43 strikeouts and just nine walks.
- Starting pitchers in the tournament, including Doug Nikhazy, Derek Diamond, Drew McDaniel, and Tyler Myers, have combined for 25.0 IP, 5 ER allowed, six walks, and 32 strikeouts.
- Kevin Graham increased his reached-base streak to 52 games, the longest active streak in the nation. He has reached safely in 57 of 59 games this season.
- Graham also hit his second homer of the tournament today.
- Tyler Myers struck out a career-high six batters in 7.0 innings, the longest start and appearance of his career.
- Brandon Johnson earned his first career save today after two innings of work.