After the first day of action, the SEC tournament is now down to just eight teams looking to bring home the most prestigious conference championship in the country.
The top four squads open up their postseason campaign on Wednesday in a double-elimination round that will put some good teams in tough positions.
One team that is hoping to make a deep run over the course of the week is LSU. Head coach Paul Mainieri explained, via WAFB:
We've always taken pride in playing our best during the postseason, and we're entering the SEC Tournament with a lot of confidence. We've had a lot of success in Hoover recently, winning the tournament four times in the last six years. We want to continue to play well in order to have a chance to win a championship and to enhance our resume as a potential NCAA regional host site.
Every club likely has similar goals at this point of the year, but only one will be able to escape as the SEC tournament champions.
Here is a look at the results from Day 2 that will be updated when available.
|5||LSU 11, Vanderbilt 1|
|6||Arkansas 2, Ole Miss 1|
|7||Kentucky 4, Florida 2|
|8||Mississippi State 12, South Carolina 0|
Day 2 Recap
LSU 11, Vanderbilt 1
The first game of the day was an absolute domination for LSU as the game had to be called in the seventh inning due to a 10-run mercy rule. Bryan Lazare of TigerBait.com noted that this is not a common occurrence:
SEC official notified home plate umpire Morris Hodges about mercy rule. #LSU's 1st 10-run victory in SEC tourney in 5 yrs -- 16-0 vs. UG.— Bryan Lazare (@bldore) May 21, 2014
Alex Bregman was the star of the game with three hits and five RBI, coming just a triple short of a cycle. Conner Hale and Mark Laird each had three hits as well as the Tigers' offense could not be stopped.
Meanwhile, Jared Poche also impressed on the mound, pitching all seven innings while allowing just one run on five hits. Not only was he hard to hit, but his complete game also helped save the bullpen for the rest of the tournament.
It took a while for things to actually get going on the offensive end in this battle. Vanderbilt earned the early lead on a Bryan Reynolds RBI single in the first, but the Tigers quickly tied it up when Laird scored on an RBI groundout by Chris Chinea.
That was the end of the scoring until LSU was finally able to get to Commodores starter Jared Miller in the bottom of the fourth. With a run already in and two on, Hayden Stone came into the game and made a mistake to Bregman that changed the game:
It was 5-1 at the end of the fourth inning, but this was just the start of the rout. LSU scored one in the fifth, two in the sixth and three in the seventh to secure the mercy rule and the win.
The Tigers will now advance to face the winner of Ole Miss and Arkansas. One more victory puts the club in the semifinals, which now seems likely after the way the bats came alive on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Vanderbilt is in a much tougher position while being just one game away from elimination. The Commodores will likely find themselves in the NCAA tournament no matter what happens, but they were hoping to make a deep run in the conference battle first.
After the poor pitching on display, it will be much harder for this to happen.
Arkansas 2, Ole Miss 1
In one of the bigger upsets in the SEC tournament so far, Arkansas got the better of No. 2 seed Ole Miss in a low-scoring battle.
The second game of the day was a quality pitcher's duel between Chris Oliver and Chris Ellis with each player lasting more than six innings for their teams. However, a few key plays helped the Razorbacks escape with the win.
It seemed like Arkansas was ready to light up the scoreboard right away when the first three batters of the game got on base for Brian Anderson. The second baseman was able to drive home the first run on a sacrifice fly, but Chris Ellis was able to limit the damage for Ole Miss.
Arkansas did not get another run until the top of the sixth when Eric Fisher did his damage. The junior singled, stole second and then eventually scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-0.
Ole Miss finally got on the board in the bottom of the seventh when Colby Bortles drove in Sikes Orvis with an RBI single. This ended an impressive streak for the Arkansas staff, according to Bob Holt of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:
PH Colby Borltes singles in Sikes Orvis to pull Ole Miss within 2-1. Hog pitchers went 15.1 innings in SEC tourney before allowing a run.— Bob Holt (@BobHoltADG) May 21, 2014
It seemed like the Hogs were going to add to their 2-1 lead in the eighth inning, but a great play by relief pitcher Scott Weathersby ended a threat, as described by Parrish Alford of the Daily Journal:
This did not matter as Michael Gunn closed out the ninth inning for the underdogs to leave with a 2-1 victory over Ole Miss.
The Rebels will now face Vanderbilt in an elimination game on Thursday. Considering how well they have played recently, it would be a pretty big disappointment if they cannot recover with a win in that contest.
Meanwhile, Arkansas moves onto face LSU in a battle that would send the winner to the semifinals. While the Tigers showcased a great offensive effort earlier in the day, the Razorbacks have a good enough pitching staff to pull off a win in this game.
Kentucky 4, Florida 2
Although Florida was the No. 1 seed in the SEC tournament, it was Kentucky that came away with the victory to advance to the next stage.
Max Kuhn was the big hitter for the Wildcats, going 2-for-5 with two runs and two RBI that came on a home run in the third inning. Kyle Cody earned the win after allowing two runs and four hits in 5.1 innings.
The Wildcats jumped over Florida starter Logan Shore early as they were able to get two runs in the first inning. Ka'ai Tom drove the first run in on a double, which was followed by a sacrifice fly by Thomas Bernal.
Florida was able to get one run back in the second inning when Braden Mattson doubled and eventually scored on a Peter Alonso groundout. However, Kentucky then blew the game open on a two-run shot by Kuhn in the third inning.
Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal noted that this was a rare feat against Shore:
Florida's ace, Logan Shore, had not allowed a single home run this season before Kuhn's this inning to extend UK's lead.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) May 21, 2014
Shore only lasted 5.2 innings while allowing four runs in what was a disappointing start in an otherwise impressive season. He will certainly hope for better showings the rest of the postseason.
Florida had some more chances to even things up, but Kentucky did a good job on the mound as well as in the field, as noted by Brent Ingram of UKAthletics.com:
Ka'ai Tom with a diving, all-or-nothing play in LF to make the first out. If he doesn't catch that, its a 2-run inside-the-parker.— Brent Ingram (@UKMR_BI) May 21, 2014
The Gators cut the lead to 4-2 in the sixth inning when Mattson hit a sacrifice fly to score Richie Martin, but this was the extend of the scoring.
Chandler Shephard was lights out in relief for Kentucky, totaling 3.2 scoreless innings to close out the upset victory.
With the win, the Wildcats move onto the next round to face the winner of South Carolina and Mississippi State. With one of the most talented rosters in the conference, they certainly have the ability to keep up their winning ways.
On the other hand, Florida will have to move on from the disappointing loss to face the loser of Wednesday's final game. Although one more loss can knock the team out of the tournament, it is hard to imagine that defeat coming any time soon.
Mississippi State 12, South Carolina 0
Mississippi State capped off an action-packed day in Hoover with a 12-0 run-rule victory over South Carolina. It was the second such game involving a top-10 RPI team, adding to what's been an already unpredictable SEC tournament:
Vanderbilt & South Carolina are 6th & 8th in country in RPI. Both on verge of being run-ruled in SEC Tourney. Unreal.— Michael Haney (@Haney1075) May 22, 2014
The Gamecocks had been hanging around for most of the game, but an eight-run explosion in the top of the seventh inning from the Bulldogs ended any drama.
Brett Pirtle and Derrick Armstrong led the way offensively for Mississippi State. Pirtle went 1-for-3 at the plate, with the lone hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning. Armstrong finished 2-for-4 driving in two runs himself.
The Bulldogs excelled at manufacturing runs. When you see a team scoring 12 times, you expect to read the box score and see a boatload of doubles and homers. However, Mississippi State had only two extra-base hits: Pirtle's home run and a double from Seth Heck.
South Carolina slowly bled out, until MSU went in for the kill in the seventh.
Rather than relying on one pitcher to shoulder the load, the Bulldogs called used three different hurlers in the win. Jacob Lindgren, who relieved Trevor Fitts, recorded the victory, throwing four innings of no-hit ball, striking out six batters.
You'll need a magnifying glass to see Lindgren's ERA after Wednesday night:
Lindgren's ERA down to 0.88. In SEC games it's 0.49.— Michael Bonner (@MikeBBonner) May 22, 2014
With the victory, Mississippi State moves on to play Kentucky on Thursday. The Wildcats are fresh off their win over the top-seeded Gators, so they won't be a pushover by any stretch of the imagination.
South Carolina, meanwhile, will be fighting for its SEC tournament life against aforementioned Florida. The Gamecocks will need to have a short memory so as to not dwell too much on Wednesday's defeat and let it spill over into Thursday.
Day 3 Schedule
|Game No.||Matchup||Time (ET)|
|9||Vanderbilt vs. Ole Miss||10:30 a.m.|
|10||Florida vs. South Carolina||TBD|
|11||LSU vs. Arkansas||5:30 p.m.|
|12||Kentucky vs. Mississippi State||TBD|
The full tournament bracket is available at SECDigitalNetwork.com.
The double elimination makes things a bit confusing going forward, but Day 3 basically features two matchups of the losers from Wednesday, followed by two battles between the winners.
Those that win the evening games will have an automatic spot in the semifinals to be played on Saturday. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the losers of the morning games are eliminated from the tournament.
The pressure will obviously be on right away for the four teams playing in the morning session, so each squad better hope it can play well enough to stay alive in Hoover.
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