SEC Baseball Tournament 2012: Early Upsets Give Kentucky an Edge

Josh MartinNBA Lead WriterMay 24, 2012

Photo Credit: AJ Reynolds/Staff
Photo Credit: AJ Reynolds/Staff

Top-seed LSU misfired against seventh-seed Mississippi State in the 2012 SEC Baseball Tournament on Wednesday. Then, second-seed South Carolina sliped in its opener against fifth-seed Vanderbilt.

Who benefitted?

Why, 11th-ranked Kentucky, of course!

Okay, so maybe third-ranked Florida is better off as well, though, that all depends on how the Gators fare against Vandy on Thursday.

Nonetheless, having the top-two seeds trudging through the loser's path leaves the SEC tourney wide open for the taking.

The Wildcats are as well-equipped as any team to pounce.

Head coach Gary Henderson has a pair of aces on whom he can rely on in Jerad Grundy (no relation to Solomon Grundy) and Corey Littrell. Grundy was particularly brilliant in Big Blue's 5-1 win over Mississippi State on Thursday, striking out nine Bulldogs in six innings.

More impressively, Grundy's effort came against the very same team that defeated him in his only loss of the season, which came amidst a sweep that dropped the 'Cats from consideration for the top seed in the conference tourney to fourth.

Three more perfect innings from Alex Phillips secured the victory and granted the 'Cats a bye until Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Tigers will have to tangle with the Bulldogs on Friday in an elimination game, from which the winner will move on to face UK in the semifinals.

All of which ultimately gives Kentucky a leg-up on the competition.

At this point, the Wildcats are likely in the NCAA Tournament regardless of what happens from here on out. They checked in at No. 11 in Baseball America's Top 25 rankings, even before picking up two more wins in Hoover, Alabama this week.

But an SEC tourney title would give the 'Cats even more clout in terms of seeding and hosting, not to mention a nice, little morale boost before what figures to be a long, difficult road to Omaha for the College World Series.