SEC Baseball Tournament: Texas A&M uses 3 homers to upset top-seeded Vanderbilt

BY Sean Cartell, SEC Digital Network

HOOVER, Ala. -- Ninth-seeded Texas A&M launched three home runs Wednesday to knock off top-seeded Vanderbilt, 5-0, in the Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. The Aggies (32-25), who defeated eighth-seeded Florida on Tuesday evening, advance to face the winner between fourth-seeded South Carolina and fifth-seeded Mississippi State in the fourth game on Thursday. Vanderbilt (48-8) will face the loser between the Gamecocks and Bulldogs in the second game on Thursday. Parker Ray earned the win for Texas A&M, pitching 8.0 innings, scattering three hits and striking out three. Hunter Melton got Texas A&M on the scoreboard in the top of the second inning with his second home run of the tournament, knocking a shot down the left-field line. The Aggies added a run in the fourth as Cole Lankford launched a solo home run to right field to extend his team's lead to 2-0. Texas A&M put another single run on the board in the top of the fifth as Krey Bratson singled through the right side with one out and was driven in by a double to right-center field by Mikey Reynolds to go in front 3-0. Troy Stein sent a solo home run over the left-field wall to give the Aggies a 4-0 lead. Texas A&M's Daniel Mengden singled to open the top of the ninth inning and J.B. Moss pinch ran for Mengden. Moss later scored in the inning on a throwing error to make the final 5-0 margin.

Vanderbilt Postgame Quotes Coach Tim Corbin

Opening statement:

"There is not much to say. It's 5-0. Parker Ray did a nice job. He went through our lineup pretty easily and limited our opportunities. There's isn't much to say other than to give him credit." On Parker Ray:

"I thought he was able to effectively down shift a change-up to the lefties. I thought he was good. He was inspired and pitched well. He's put them in good position to win. His rhythm was good. He put the ball into the air without much energy. It was a tough day for us, but it was because of him."

Connor Harrell

On Parker Ray:

"He's pushing both sides of the play. He's throwing breaking balls and throwing fast balls. He kept us off balance. You have to credit him a little bit, but at the same time it's more on us. We should be able to put together some hits at some point." On Parker Ray's curve balls:

"He's throwing backwards. He was throwing change ups and throwing breaking balls and mixing fast balls on both sides of the plate. You would think that after two or three times at the plate we would be able to crack his code, but we didn't. It's one of those things you learn from." On team's postseason position:

"It's unfortunate. It's not the place we want to be. We felt we would be able to put ourselves in a pretty good spot, but it's not over. We've been in this tournament all four years that I've been here. We want to battle back and play in the championship game. We'll take tomorrow and move on to the next day."

Walker Buehler

On playing a pitcher-friendly field:

"I felt fine. I just made some big mistakes, obviously. That's really what it came down to."

Texas A&M Postgame Quotes Head Coach Rob Childress

Opening statement:

"I'm just really proud of our team. We played extremely well. It all starts on the mound and behind him (Parker Ray) we pitched extremely well. We played defense at a very high level. We grabbed the lead early and were able to extend it with some good swings. Parker wasn't able to finish, but the bullpen made a stand up." On Parker Ray:

"He was a walk-on. He came in and was an infielder. I told him if he came back he was going to try out. The kid came back to walk on tryouts his 3rd semester and we kept him. He had a good fall, but wasn't going to pitch on that staff. I told him if he wanted to pitch at Texas A&M he needed to go to a junior college and prove you can pitch. Not many kids do that at Texas A&M. It's a great place to be a student. He packed up his bags, went to Texarkana, pitched well and came back. All he does is keep his head down and grind. He was out of the bullpen last year and again this year. Every time he got the ball he kept doing well. It was a revolving door in our rotation about the middle of the year. The harder you work, the luckier you get. Everything he has ever gotten, he's earned. He's the definition of a grinder. He's a guy that I want on my side. Now he's one of our leaders, not just on the field, but in the clubhouse." On continuing in the tournament:

"As far as the tournament, we haven't done anything yet. We got into the eight-team tournament and won game one. There's still a lot of baseball left to be played. There's a trophy on the line and that's what we're here for. We're here to win the tournament and do everything we can. We'll have a big challenge tomorrow. If there's a trophy or a ring on the line, why not play for it?"

Parker Ray

On his performance today:

"I felt really good coming in. I had a short rest but I knew this was a big game so I needed to step up for the team and have the fastballs working so I could get ahead on the counts, and then the slider and the changeup fell nice for me there. Hats off to Coach Childress on a great game calling pitches, I have so much respect for him for giving me the opportunity to be in this situation. I tried to make the best of it."

Hunter Melton

On his second homerun of the tournament:

"It started it off with a fastball, and then a slider and honestly I didn't get the best of it. Luckily the ball carried out and that helped out a whole lot."