The last four teams in the SEC tournament have already proven themselves as some of the top squads in the nation, but only one will be able to leave as the conference champion.
LSU and Kentucky each come into the semifinals undefeated after showcasing great pitching and hitting throughout the week. Arkansas and Florida had tougher times reaching this point after coming back from early losses, but both teams remain confident about winning out.
Gators coach Kevin O'Sullivan provided a simple preview of what he expects in the semifinals against Kentucky, via Sean Cartell of SECDigitalNetwork:
Tomorrow’s game will be the usual. We have to be able to pitch. We have to be able to play defense. We have to be able to get some timely hits. It is the same game. Obviously Kentucky has been playing pretty well. That is what you want at this time of the year. You are trying to get ready for NCAA Regionals. You are going to play these types of teams, and you have to play your best to win. We feel fortunate to still be playing.
Every manager probably feels the same way at this point in the tournament, but they are also hoping to leave with a title.
With a trip to the championship game on the line, here is a look at the semifinal results from Day 6 of the SEC tournament.
|15||LSU 11, Arkansas 1|
|16||Florida 6, Kentucky 5|
Day 6 Recap
LSU 11, Arkansas 1
LSU continued its strong play this tournament with another blowout victory, defeating Arkansas for the second time in three days.
It was quite a show at the plate for the Tigers, who totaled 16 hits and three home runs in the dominant win. They will now advance to the SEC title game as clearly the hottest team in the field.
The Tigers used some big shots to take the early lead. Although they did not get any runs across in the first inning despite threatening with a few baserunners, Conner Hale changed that in the second inning with a solo home run to take the 1-0 lead.
In the fourth inning, Tyler Moore added to the lead with a two-run home run to right field, extending a hot streak as noted by Randy Rosetta of the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
My goodness is Tyler Moore hot. he just ripped a 2-run HR for a 3-0 #LSU lead -- 1-and-2 count.— Randy Rosetta (@RandyRosetta) May 24, 2014
This strong hitting kept coming in the fifth inning, when LSU had five runners cross the plate on RBI singles by Sean McMullen, Andrew Stevenson and Moore to go with a two-run double by Kade Scivicque, making it an 8-0 game with the mercy rule appearing likely.
Arkansas finally got on the board in the sixth inning, when Eric Fisher walked with the bases loaded. Unfortunately, Tyler Spoon ended the rally with a fielder's choice.
Of course, it also did not take long to get this run back, as Scivicque continued the strong hitting for the Tigers, via Kendall Rogers of Perfect Game:
With two more runs in the bottom of the eighth, LSU reached the 10-run rule and the game was over.
This offensive onslaught almost overshadowed what was a great pitching performance by LSU starter Kyle Bouman. He allowed just one run and two hits in six innings while also adding three strikeouts in the win.
Kelsey Wingert of ESPNU noted that this performance will help him going forward:
Another great outing from a stater this tourney. Kyle Bouman has to feel good about that. Nice confidence boost going into post-season #LSU— Kelsey Wingert (@KelsWingert) May 24, 2014
In reality, everyone on LSU will have plenty of confidence heading into the NCAA tournament with the potential for a national seed becoming more likely every day.
Arkansas will likely have a tougher run in the NCAA tournament, but this strong showing in Hoover showed that the squad is capable of beating some good teams. This could make the Razorbacks a dark horse to make a deep run in the coming weeks.
Florida 6, Kentucky 5
Florida came from behind to avenge its earlier loss in the SEC tournament to earn a spot in the conference finals.
Harrison Bader led an impressive offensive performance for Florida, going 3-for-4 with three RBI in the win.
Kentucky took the early lead in this game when Max Kuhn doubled home a run in the first inning, continuing a hot streak for the Wildcats, as noted by Kendall Rogers of Perfect Game:
Speaking of red-hot, #UK already on the board in this one with a Max Kuhn roped RBI double down the LF line. That brings up Mr. AJ Reed.— Kendall Rogers (@KendallRogersPG) May 24, 2014
An inning later, they were able to add to the lead on a sacrifice fly by Austin Cousino and then an RBI single by Ka'ai Tom, making it 3-0 through the second inning.
However, Florida was able to come back with two runs in the third inning before eventually taking the 4-3 lead in the top of the fifth on a two-run single by Bader.
This only stood until the bottom of the sixth, when the Wildcats were to get two runs on RBI hits by Cousino and Kuhn to take the 5-4. Once again, this lead did not last long as Richie Martin singled, stole second and eventually scored the tying run for the Gators in the seventh.
It would have been worse without a pair of solid plays by A.J. Reed, as noted by Kyle Tucker of the Courier-Journal:
A.J. Reed applies the tag on a pickoff, then makes a helluva play on a ball down the line to kill Florida's inning. All tied, bottom 7.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) May 24, 2014
In the top of the eighth, Josh Tobias singled home what turned out to be the game-winner, which was part of a wild game:
Back and forth we go. Florida retakes the lead with a two-out single. Cats will have to overcome a 6-5 deficit in the final 1.5 innings.— Kentucky Athletics (@UKAthletics) May 24, 2014
Florida pitcher Kirby Snead finished his outing with 4.1 innings in relief, allowing just two unearned runs to help the Gators secure the win.
The top seed will advance to the championship game to face LSU, which has been simply dominant throughout the tournament.
Meanwhile, Kentucky will look toward the NCAA tournament after a solid run to the conference semifinals. With the way the Wildcats performed over the past week, you can be certain they will be a tough team to beat going forward.
|Matchup||LSU vs. Florida|
|When||Sunday, May 25|
|Where||Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, Hoover, Ala.|
|Time||4:30 p.m. ET|
The full tournament bracket is available at SECDigitalNetwork.com.
LSU continues to impress in all phases of the game. With the latest win, the Tigers have now outscored opponents 29-4 in three games while showcasing a deep lineup and a pitching staff that continues to keep runs off the board.
Of course, Florida will be a tough team to beat after winning the last three games. The SEC regular-season winners have loads of talent and the confidence to take home the tournament title.
No matter who wins, you can be certain it will be an entertaining battle at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
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