A year ago, Vanderbilt celebrated its Southeastern Conference baseball championship on its home field.
On Sunday, the Commodores watched another team walk away from Hawkins Field with the crown.
Georgia captured its third SEC title since 2001 with a 12-10 victory. VU begrudgingly handed over its championship mantle after the Bulldogs won two of three games in the weekend series.
“I don’t want to say they’re better than us or we’re better than they are,” Vanderbilt outfielder Dominic de la Osa said. “They played better today and that’s what counted.”
“Does it show who the best team is? No,” added catcher Shea Robin said. “I think we’re both very good teams.”
Vanderbilt’s hopes of a sweep slipped away Saturday. Leading 2-0 in the ninth inning, VU was an out away from victory before a throwing error by Pedro Alvarez helped Georgia tie the game and eventually win in 10 innings.
On Sunday, on a blustery and chilly day at Hawkins Field, Georgia erupted for six runs in the second against against Vanderbilt starting pitcher Nick Christiani, forcing the Commodores to play from behind the rest of the day.
The Bulldogs [33-17-1 overall, 19-7-1 in the SEC] pulled ahead 12-4 before the Commodores [37-15, 15-11] rallied with four runs in the eighth inning and one in the ninth.
Georgia ace reliever Joshua Fields struck out Brad French with one runner on base to finish the game.
“I knew we were going to come back and win,” VU coach Tim Corbin said. “But not enough. Too late. I thought we would get them at the end but we didn’t.”
David Macias, de la Osa and Steven Liddle each had three hits to lead Vanderbilt. Ryan Peisel, Matt Olson, Lyle Allen and Matt Cerione each collected three hits to lead Georgia’s 20-hit attack.
Christiani [5-3] took the loss, while Nathan Moreau [3-2] earned the win.
“It’s tough to watch someone win the SEC on our field,” de la Osa said. “We just have to bite it and move on.”
Trailing 12-4, Vanderbilt rallied for four runs in the eighth inning. A single by Macias scored Shea Robin and Liddle. A double by de la Osa plated Macias. A single by Alvarez scored de la Osa to make it 12-9.
In the ninth inning, Andrew Giobbi walked with two outs and later scored on a base hit by Liddle. Fields then blew a fastball past the swinging French to kill the rally.
GOLD NUGGETS: Vanderbilt can secure a spot in the SEC Tournament by winning one of three games this week at Florida in a series that begins Thursday. The top eight teams in the league, based on winning percentage, will play in the SEC Tournament May 21-25 in Hoover, Ala. …VU has lost two straight SEC series at home for the first time since 2005. Kentucky won two of three games at Hawkins Field April 25-27. …Macias had seven hits in 14 at-bats over the weekend to push his team-high batting average to .375, 50 points higher than any other VU player.