The Associated Press
The Meridian Star
HOOVER, Ala. — Tony Kemp, Conrad Gregor and Zander Wiel each drove in three runs to power Vanderbilt to a 16-8 victory over Mississippi State Saturday in the Southeastern Conference tournament semifinals.
The top-seeded Commodores (51-8) will face LSU Sunday in their third straight trip to the championship game in a matchup of two teams who have already reached 50 wins.
"It's SEC baseball. It's the two best teams in the conference, who happen to be the two best teams in the country right now," Wiel said. "It's what the people want and it's going to be a good matchup."
Vandy is 0-3 in the title game since winning the 2007 championship. Even with a national seed secured going into the NCAA regionals, the Commodores insist there's no shortage of motivation for this one.
"It'd be really special to be able to come out here and win this thing, because this means something," right fielder Mike Yastrzemski said. "This isn't just a walk-through game. It's the SEC championship. This is what we play for. The only thing that really matters right now is trying to win this game."
The Commodores had 19 hits — including 17 singles — and scored seven runs in the second inning and five in the fifth.
The Bulldogs (43-17), who beat the Commodores in last year's title game, churned out 14 hits.
Gregor, Connor Harrell and Wiel each had three hits for Vandy, which has won three straight since dropping its SEC tournament opener to Texas A&M.
Mississippi State was led by Hunter Renfroe, who was 3 for 5 with two RBIs.
Adam Frazier and Alex Detz each had two hits and drove in a run.
Vandy's first six batters reached in the second to chase starter Jacob Lindgren (4-3), who allowed six runs, three earned.
The Commodores did the damage with five hits, two sacrifice flies, two hit batters, an error and a walk.
"That second inning pretty much told the story of the whole game," Mississippi State coach John Cohen said. "All the elements of a big inning are right there. We got the error, we got the hit by pitch and we got the walk.
"When those things happen, you're going to give up a bunch of runs."
The Bulldogs were on their fourth pitcher by the end of the third inning.
"We took advantage of a couple of miscues early but then we tied a lot of quality at-bats together," Vandy coach Tim Corbin said. "We kept applying the pressure. It was a long day but it was a long day because of the offense."