After some shocking upsets in Day 2 of the SEC tournament, a number of top teams are on the brink of elimination.
No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Ole Miss and No. 4 South Carolina all fell in their opening games of the postseason and will now have to win just to stay alive. Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco lamented his team's offensive struggles in the 2-1 loss to Arkansas, via The Sun Herald:
Today's game was like a Friday night in the SEC. That was two great pitchers going at each other on short rest out there. It comes down to timely hitting and taking advantage of opportunities. We didn't take advantage of the opportunities we got, and in a game like that mistakes are magnified.
The Rebels will enter Thursday looking for redemption, although the same can be said about Florida, South Carolina and Vanderbilt.
Meanwhile, No. 3 LSU leads the group of four teams attempting to play their way into the semifinals on Thursday. Arkansas, Kentucky and Mississippi State are all on the brink of advancing after upset wins and are hoping to keep their momentum alive.
This is certain to be an exciting day of baseball at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. Here are breakdowns of each game to be updated throughout Day 3.
|9||Ole Miss 7, Vanderbilt 2|
|10||Florida 7, South Carolina 2|
|11||LSU 7, Arkansas 2|
|12||No. 9 Kentucky 7, No. 5 Mississippi State 6|
Day 3 Recap
Ole Miss 7, Vanderbilt 2
After scoring just one run in a loss to Arkansas to start the tournament, Ole Miss got its offense back on track with a 7-2 win over Vanderbilt.
Austin Anderson and Auston Bousfield each had two hits in a balanced offensive effort for the eventual winners. Jeremy Massie was effective on the mound, totaling 4.1 innings while allowing just one run on four hits while striking out four. He was replaced by Aaron Greenwood, who earned the win with 2.2 solid innings of one-run ball.
Kendall Rogers of Perfect Game was impressed with the effort from Ole Miss:
Just a really nice overall performance by #RebsBSB today, up 7-2 in the 9th. Ole Miss playing like a team with a national seed on the line.— Kendall Rogers (@KendallRogersPG) May 22, 2014
Vanderbilt looked better early on as it was able to get the first lead in this game. After the first two batters got out, the next three reached base to bring home the opening run:
A little 2-out magic gets the Dores on the board thanks to a Conde single up the middle after Reynolds legged out IF single, Wiel walked.— VandyBaseball (@VandyBaseball) May 22, 2014
This 1-0 lead held until the top of the third when Braxton Lee hit a sacrifice fly for Ole Miss to score Preston Overbey and tie the game at 1-1.
The pitchers started to settle in to keep it a low-scoring battle, but the Rebels added to their lead on another sacrifice fly by Sikes Orvis in the sixth inning. Things then started to unravel when Vanderbilt starter Tyler Beede lost his control, via Keith Law of ESPN:
Beede retired the first 7 batters he faced, but he's now walked 5 of the last 8 Ole Miss hitters— keithlaw (@keithlaw) May 22, 2014
Beede hit the first two batters in the seventh inning, causing the manager to make a change. However, this was just the start of a big rally for Ole Miss, which scored four runs in the inning to build up a 6-1 lead.
It seemed like the Commodores would have a chance to come back in the bottom of the inning when they had the bases loaded. Bryan Reynolds earned a painful RBI on a bases loaded hit by pitch, but Zander Wiel ended the threat with a strikeout.
Ole Miss was able to add another run in the ninth before closing things out to earn a 7-2 win.
The Rebels remain alive in the SEC tournament and will now face the loser of Arkansas and LSU. One more win from this point and they will be playing in the semifinals.
Vanderbilt will not be quite as lucky as the squad is now eliminated from the tournament. The Commodores are safely in the NCAA tournament, but it might be too difficult to earn a national seed at this point.
Florida 7, South Carolina 2
The top seed in the SEC tournament got back on track as Florida dismantled South Carolina with a 7-2 win.
Casey Turgeon was the star at the plate, going 3-for-5 with two RBI and a run. Bobby Poyner was incredible on the mound in relief A.J. Puk, earning the win while tossing five shutout innings.
South Carolina got on the board first when Tanner English hit an RBI double in the top of the second. The Gamecocks then added to their lead when Kyle Martin hit a solo home run in the third to make it 2-0.
As Ron Aiken of Rivals.com pointed out, it was a deep one:
Martin's shot was to the DEEPEST part of the park, which is huge, straightaway center. I called HR to right just before, was off by a few ft— Ron Aiken (@RonAiken) May 22, 2014
However, the game quickly shifted in favor of the Gators. In the bottom of the third, Florida scored three runs all with two outs on back-to-back singles by Taylor Gushue and Braden Mattson.
The Gators then added to the lead in the bottom of the fourth when Turgeon and Richie Martin each had RBI singles, making it 5-2. The favorites kept pounding on with a Josh Tobias solo home run in the sixth and another Turgeon RBI in the eighth.
Meanwhile, Poyner kept posting zeros in relief to shut down the Gamecocks to secure the win.
The loss eliminates South Carolina with an 0-2 record in the SEC tournament. Fortunately, Chuck Dunlap of SEC Sports provides an interesting statistic to make fans feel better:
During South Carolina's run of 3 straight trips to CWS finals, winning two of them, they were 2-6 in Hoover.— Chuck Dunlap (@SEC_Chuck) May 22, 2014
Heading into the NCAA tournament, the squad should remain confident about their chances.
Florida advances to the next stage of the SEC tournament where it will face the loser of Kentucky and Mississippi State. After the quality effort both offensively and defensively, the Gators have the ability to win out and take home the conference title.
LSU 7, Arkansas 2
LSU continued its strong hitting to get a 7-2 win over Arkansas and earn a spot in the semifinals of the SEC tournament.
Tyler Moore had the big bat for the Tigers with three hits, two runs, two RBI and a home run. Aaron Nola also continued his impressive year with 7.1 innings pitched, striking out seven while giving up two runs and five hits in a win.
Arkansas starter Colin Poche lasted just 2.2 innings, making the final outcome pretty unsurprising. The Razorbacks did score the opening run of the game in the bottom of the first when Clark Eagan scored on an error.
The Tigers tie the game the next inning on Moore's solo home run:
Tyler Moore's no doubter to tie Arkansas in the 2nd inning. https://t.co/tXHUpDYoq1— GEAUX TIGERS (@GeauxTigers) May 22, 2014
In the top of the third, they were able to take over the lead in the top of the third on RBI singles from Chris Chinea and Sean McMullen. The hits kept coming when Moore hit an RBI double in the sixth inning, followed by a sacrifice fly by Jake Fraley in the seventh.
Mark Laird then blew the game open in the eighth inning on a two-run single with the bases loaded, a play that pretty much ended the game as noted by Scott Rabalais of The Advocate:
Laird's 2 RBI shot off the Ark. SS gives #LSU a 7-1 lead going to the bottom of the 8th. And Nola still pitching. Don't like Hog odds.— Scott Rabalais (@RabalaisAdv) May 22, 2014
The Razorbacks were able to add a second run in the bottom of the eighth with a Brian Anderson sacrifice fly, but it was too little, too late for the No. 7 seed.
Arkansas will now have to play Ole Miss in an elimination game with the winner getting a trip to the semifinals. With the way the Hogs are capable of pitching, they certainly have a chance of keeping the dream of a title alive.
Meanwhile, LSU remains the hottest team in the conference with an impressive offensive display over the past few games. If the Tigers can keep this up, they will be able to take home an SEC title.
Kentucky 7, Mississippi State 6
The SEC saved its wildest game for the nightcap, as the Kentucky Wildcats finally prevailed over the Mississippi State Bulldogs in 12 back-and-forth innings.
It looked as if the Bulldogs were going to cruise to victory when they jumped out to a 4-1 lead, but Kentucky got to starter Ross Mitchell when it pushed across three runs to tie it in the sixth inning. The squads each pushed across two more runs through the regulation nine innings, which set up an extra-inning affair to end Thursday's slate.
Incredibly enough, Mississippi State had two runners thrown out at home, one in the 10th inning and one in the 12th. For their part, the Wildcats loaded the bases in the 11th but couldn't push across the winning run.
Chuck Dunlap of SECSports.com noted that this wasn't the first time Mississippi State reached extra innings:
Three games in, and Mississippi State just flat out refuses to play a 9 inning game in Hoover— Chuck Dunlap (@SEC_Chuck) May 23, 2014
Kentucky finally broke through in the bottom of the 12th when it loaded the bases and scored the winning run on a slow roller to shortstop. The ball simply didn't have enough speed on it for the Bulldogs to turn a double play, and Kentucky earned a day off Friday with the win.
As for Mississippi State, it has to turn right back around and play top-seeded Florida Friday.
Day 4 Schedule
|Game No.||Matchup||Time (ET)|
|13||Ole Miss vs. Arkansas||4 p.m.|
|14||Florida vs. Mississippi State||7 p.m.|
The full tournament bracket is available at SECDigitalNetwork.com.
The fourth day of action at the SEC tournament will only feature two games, but they will both be important. All four teams involved will have already suffered a loss, which means that the loser of Friday's games will be going home.
On the other hand, a win will put the squad into the semifinals against the two winners from Thursday's battles.
This prestigious tournament will be over before you know it, so make sure to tune in to catch the latest action between some of the best teams in the nation.
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