The 2015 SEC tournament has featured a good mix of strong efforts from the top teams and upsets that throw a monkey wrench into the potential championship game matchups.
No. 1 seed LSU and No. 3 seed Texas A&M breezed through the opening part of the double-elimination tournament, winning their two games on Wednesday and Thursday to secure a day off while four other teams do battle to determine the other semifinalists.
Vanderbilt, Florida and Arkansas make for a strong trio, each capable of winning the SEC tournament. Alabama, the 11th seed in the conference, has put together a surprise run with wins over Mississippi and Missouri to keep hope alive.
It certainly makes for a dramatic day of baseball at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, as two teams will be sent home, so here's a recap from Friday's SEC tournament action.
|1st Round||2nd Round||3rd Round||4th Round||Semifinals||Final|
|(6) Ole Miss||(11) Alabama|
|(11) Alabama||(11) Alabama||(7) Missouri|
|(3) Texas A&M||(11) Alabama||(3) Texas A&M|
|(7) Missouri||(9) Auburn||(2) Vanderbilt||(2) Vanderbilt|
|(10) USC||(7) Missouri||(4) Florida|
|(8) Kentucky||(3) Texas A&M||TBD|
|(9) Auburn||(9) Auburn||(2) Vanderbilt||(4) Florida||(1) LSU|
|(1) LSU||(5) Arkansas||(4) Florida|
|(5) Arkansas||(1) LSU|
|(12) Tennessee||(5) Arkansas||(5) Arkansas|
|Upcoming 2015 SEC Tournament Schedule|
|Game||Date||Time (ET)||Team 1||Team 2||Watch|
|15||Saturday, May 23||1 p.m.||No. 3 Texas A&M||No. 2 Vanderbilt||SEC Network|
|16||Saturday, May 23||TBD||No. 1 LSU||No. 4 Florida||SEC Network|
|17||Sunday, May 24||4:30 p.m.||Game 15 Winner vs. Game 16 Winner||ESPN2|
Friday Scores and Recap
|2015 SEC Tournament Results - May 22|
|Game||Matchup||Result/Start Time (ET)|
|13||No. 11 Alabama vs. No. 2 Vanderbilt||Vanderbilt def. Alabama, 16-1|
|14||No. 4 Florida vs. No. 5 Arkansas||Florida def. Arkansas, 10-0|
Vanderbilt def. Alabama
Vanderbilt has had a Jekyll and Hyde start to the SEC tournament. Friday was definitely the good version of the Commodores, as they steamrolled Alabama en route to a 16-1 mercy-rule victory.
The Commodores' 16 runs are the most for any team so far this week, while they also set a new record for doubles in an SEC tournament game, per Vandy Baseball:
Vanderbilt was down to its final strike twice against Missouri on Wednesday before a single and an error tied the game, which was later won on Rhett Wiseman's walk-off homer in the 10th inning.
On Thursday, the Commodores were upended by Texas A&M as their offense was stifled by Matt Kent's complete game four-hitter. Facing elimination against an overmatched Alabama team, Vanderbilt left no doubt about its place in the semifinals.
There were no shortage of offensive heroes for Vanderbilt. Everyone in the starting lineup had at least one hit; leadoff man Ro Coleman ignited the attack by going 3-for-4 with two RBI and three runs scored. Cleanup hitter Zander Wiel went 3-for-5 with two doubles, four RBI and one run scored.
Per Vandy Baseball, the 16 runs tied a season high for the Commodores:
For Alabama, which will end its otherwise-solid SEC tournament run on a down note, nothing was working in this game. All five pitchers who appeared in the game allowed at least two earned runs.
Starter Will Carter was only able to make it through three innings, which D1Baseball's Kendall Rogers noted was about half of what the Crimson Tide needed in order to have a chance:
Vanderbilt's offense is capable of striking in a hurry, as it did on Wednesday against Missouri and Friday. The Commodores are a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. Their hopes of winning a conference tournament title for the first time since 2007 are alive.
Fittingly, if Vanderbilt wants a shot in the championship game, it will have to knock off Texas A&M in a rematch of Thursday's showdown dominated by the Aggies.
Florida def. Arkansas
On Wednesday, Arkansas beat Florida 7-6. On Friday, the Gators got the last laugh, defeating the Razorbacks 10-0 and knocking the Hogs out of the SEC tournament. The game didn't even make it past the seventh inning, with the Gators scoring three times in the bottom of the seventh inning to invoke the 10-run rule limit.
A.J. Puk was filthy on the mound for Florida. He threw seven shutout innings of four-hit ball, striking out 11 batters along the way.
Baseball America's Michael Lananna caught some of Puk's post-game reactions:
Of course, Florida wasn't too bad offensively, either. Only two of the team's nine batters failed to record a hit. Buddy Reed and Dalton Guthrie contributed three and two hits, respectively, to the cause. They were also the only hitters who didn't drive in a run. JJ Schwarz went 2-for-3 with one run driven in and one run scored.
A five-run third inning propelled the Gators and knocked Razorbacks starter Dominic Taccolini out of the game. He pitched two innings, giving up four earned runs on five hits.
Perhaps most surprising about Florida's performance was that it scored its 10 runs on just 11 hits. Arkansas pitchers only walked five Gators as well. Kevin O'Sullivan's team was so good at moving runners over and capitalizing with men on base.
Florida will get LSU in the SEC tournament semifinals.