The 2015 SEC baseball tournament continued with four third-round games Thursday. The Texas A&M Aggies advanced to the semifinals with a 6-1 victory over reigning College World Series champions Vanderbilt Commodores to headline the action.
The LSU Tigers are the top-ranked team in the country and barely got past the Auburn Tigers 9-8 in the second round before Thursday's 10-5 win over the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Check out the complete scores from Thursday below, along with an updated bracket and predictions for Friday's fourth-round showdowns.
|2015 SEC Baseball Tournament Scores: Thursday, May 21|
|9||No. 7 Missouri vs. No. 11 Alabama||4-3, Alabama|
|10||No. 4 Florida vs. No. 9 Auburn||11-2, Florida|
|11||No. 2 Vanderbilt vs. No. 3 Texas A&M||6-1, Texas A&M|
|12||No. 1 LSU vs. No. 5 Arkansas||10-5, LSU|
Day 4 Picks
No. 2 Vanderbilt Commodores vs. No. 11 Alabama Crimson Tide
The Commodores seemed a little bit gassed from the surprising test they faced in their tournament opener. It took a lot of effort to grind out a 7-6 second-round win over the Missouri Tigers.
After managing a mere four hits against the Aggies, thanks to a tremendous complete game from Matt Kent, Vandy will be keen to tee off Friday against the Crimson Tide.
Few lineups in the country have the type of all-around prowess the Commodores boast. Per ESPN, Vanderbilt ranks second in the SEC in home runs (53) and stolen bases (83). Only LSU boasts similar prowess in those two categories measuring dynamic power and speed.
Plus, as Texas A&M Baseball points out, the opportunity is on the horizon for Vandy to have a rematch versus the Aggies:
Alabama can't be overlooked after playing Texas A&M tough earlier in the tournament, losing by a score of 4-3. The Tide have won nine of their last 12 and appear to be coming on strong at the best time possible.
Whether it will be enough to upset Vandy is another matter. Varied as results can be on a daily basis in the game of baseball, it's hard to envision the Commodores slipping up with the potential chance to battle LSU in the championship game.
With the third-worst on-base percentage in the SEC at .351, the Tide don't have the explosiveness or tremendous pitching to make up for their lack of doing the little things well. This is where Vanderbilt will separate itself and win out Friday with relative ease as the prohibitive favorite.
Prediction: Vanderbilt 7, Alabama 2
No. 4 Florida Gators vs. No. 5 Arkansas Razorbacks
A nightmarish display on defense cost the Razorbacks dearly against top-seeded LSU on Thursday, as Arkansas committed a whopping six errors that led to seven unearned runs.
Michael Lananna of Baseball America weighed in on the disastrous start the Razorbacks ultimately couldn't dig out of:
Those are the types of mistakes that Arkansas can't afford to make.
After gallantly getting past the Tennessee Volunteers and the Florida Gators by one run, a rematch with the Gators looms. Although Florida has a considerable edge in pitching, Arkansas has the hot bats with a .292 team average to give the Gators trouble.
Florida really turned it on in Thursday's 11-2 romp over Auburn, which just lost barely lost to LSU in the previous contest. Head coach Kevin O'Sullivan was most pleased with how his Florida team recovered from the prior 7-6 loss to Arkansas.
"I am really proud of the way we responded to the tough loss last night," O'Sullivan said, per SECSports.com. "I am really pleased with how they came out with some focus."
It will be up to SEC Player of the Year Andrew Benintendi to rally his Razorback teammates and muster some similar fortitude to what the Gators showed against Auburn.
Benintendi smashed a solo home run in the ninth inning to help spark a rally and beat Florida in the second round. The long ball disparity wasn't on display then, and one can bet Benintendi will be hungry to feast on the Gators after failing to get a hit in four at-bats Thursday.
The eruption from Florida in the third round came against an Auburn club that had given its all to beat LSU, only to fall short. The Auburn Tigers had to be a bit demoralized. Credit the Gators for pouncing, but they'll lose a bit of steam for Friday's showdown.
Arkansas will pull out this tight game with an emphasis on defense and will get the timely hits it got in the first meeting between these two clubs in the tournament to seize victory.
Prediction: Arkansas 4, Florida 3
Note: Tournament information courtesy of SECSports.com, unless otherwise indicated.