Teams in the 2014 SEC baseball tournament transition from the single-elimination play of Day 1 to the double-elimination format on Wednesday.
Tuesday did not lack for enthralling action in what was the nation's most dominant baseball conference this season. Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Kentucky and Mississippi State notched marquee victories, with the Wildcats' triumph the most notable.
Things get more serious on Wednesday, though, as the big dogs such as Florida and Ole Miss enter the fray. Let's take a look at how Day 1 unfolded and weeded out the pretenders, with some predictions for Day 2 to boot.
Day 1 Results
|1||Vanderbilt 3, Tennessee 2|
|2||Arkansas 4, Texas A&M 0|
|3||Kentucky 7, Alabama 1|
|4||Mississippi St. 5, Georgia 4|
Day 2 Schedule
|1||No. 2 Ole Miss vs. No. 7 Arkansas||ESPN 3|
|2||No. 6 Vanderbilt vs. No. 3 LSU||ESPN 3|
|3||No. 9 Kentucky vs. No. 1 Florida||ESPN 3|
|4||No. 4 South Carolina vs. No. 5 Mississippi St.||ESPN 3|
Full tournament bracket can be found here.
Day 2 Predictions
Florida Ends the Cinderella Story
The Florida Gators are one of the best teams in the nation but have no easy task on Wednesday against the aforementioned Wildcats.
Kentucky brutalized Alabama 7-1 behind five strong innings from A.J. Reed, who improved to an outstanding 11-2 on the year. He got help from Austin Cousino's three runs, but Reed was the standout, as Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal notes:
ESPN announcer says UK's A.J. Reed running away with National Player of the Year in a way not seen since Secretariat.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) May 20, 2014
Great, but one problem—Reed cannot save the Wildcats against the Gators and ace Logan Shore (7-2, 1.69 ERA).
Kentucky won the season series against the Gators 2-1, but things are different with so much on the line. The Gators are well-rested after a bye and have hitters who can torch the Wildcats' pitching all day as the best arms rest.
It's not the end of the line for the explosive Kentucky roster, but the Wildcats simply will not be at their best on Wednesday.
Mississippi State Upends South Carolina
Mississippi State is on the ropes.
Yes, the Bulldogs moved past Georgia to make it to the double-elimination portion of the bracket, but they did so just barely after Georgia made a major comeback bid with two runs in the top of the ninth inning.
But apparently Mississippi State is accustomed to just slipping by, as captured by Matt Wyatt of SuperTalk Mississippi:
The program and many of its players know the feeling after playing six games in six days to win the 2012 SEC tournament. Closer Jonathan Holder said before Tuesday's contest that it seems like a long time ago, via Michael Bonner of The Clarion-Ledger:
"It's a blur now. I was just some 18-year-old freshman that came in really out of nowhere and got to pitch a little bit. You never know when it's your last game."
Let the blur commence, because this year's version of the Bulldogs is experienced and hungry. South Carolina has plenty to offer at the plate, but Mississippi State's rotation is deep enough to keep the bats mostly silent for a second consecutive night.