The first three days of this year's SEC tournament didn't follow the regular-season script entirely, but following two dominating efforts from Vanderbilt and Florida on Friday, the final four teams still vying for a conference title are the top four seeds.
LSU was the best SEC team in the regular season and has shown no signs of slowing down, with two wins in two games to earn a day off Friday. Texas A&M has used timely offense and impressive pitching through two games.
Vanderbilt started sluggish, needing a comeback win against Missouri before getting shut down by Texas A&M, but the team was able to right the ship with a 16-1 destruction of Alabama. Meanwhile, Florida has scored 21 runs in two games since losing to Arkansas.
All of these storylines collided Saturday in Hoover, Alabama, to set up a thrilling final four and determine the two teams that will play for an SEC title Sunday.
Here's a look at the SEC tournament bracket, schedule and results from Saturday's 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|
|(2) Vanderbilt||(2) Vanderbilt|
|(8) Kentucky||(3) Texas A&M||(4) Florida|
|(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|
|2015 SEC Championship Game Schedule|
|Date||Matchup||Start Time (ET)||Network||Location|
|Sunday, May 24||No. 2 Vanderbilt vs. No. 4 Florida||4:30 p.m.||ESPN2||Hoover Metropolitan Stadium (Hoover, Alabama)|
Saturday Scores and Recap
|2015 SEC Tournament Results - May 23|
|Game||Matchup||Result/Start Time (ET)|
|15||No. 2 Vanderbilt vs. No. 3 Texas A&M||Vanderbilt def. Texas A&M, 12-3|
|16||No. 1 LSU vs. No. 4 Florida||Florida def. LSU, 2-1|
Florida def. LSU
Not even sloppy baserunning and 2.2 innings from starter Alex Faedo could stop the Florida Gators from getting a come-from-behind victory over top-ranked LSU in the SEC tournament semifinals.
Mike Rivera provided the fireworks with his third home run of the season, a go-ahead blast to left field in the top of the ninth off Jesse Stallings.
This was a game of missed opportunities for both sides, though the Gators kept putting the pressure on with 15 baserunners in nine innings. LSU was only able to turn nine hits, including six off Faedo, into one run in the loss.
However, as Andrew Olson of OnlyGators.com wrote, Faedo’s start wasn’t the worst thing that could happen to Florida because of its bullpen:
That held true throughout this game, as the Gators got 6.1 scoreless innings from Kirby Snead and Taylor Lewis to keep the team in it before the offense came to life.
Richard Johnson of The Alligator noted how Florida’s late-inning drama changed the script dramatically:
Florida ran itself out of a potentially big inning in the eighth after two baserunning mistakes coming as it tied the game. With runners on first and second, JJ Schwarz hit a ball off the wall that scored Josh Tobias.
On the same play, with the third base coach holding him up, Pete Alonso went too far past third base and was tagged out after a brief rundown. Schwarz was caught too far off second base and catcher Kade Scivicque threw him out for one of the most unusual double plays at any level of baseball.
LSU was cruising prior to the eighth inning, as starter Alex Lange pitched seven scoreless innings with five hits allowed and seven strikeouts. He did surrender six walks, but was able to work around the free passes to give his team a chance.
The Tigers' offense only had one of their nine hits go for extra bases, a double by Scivicque. This was an out-of-character performance by their hitters, who had a combined slugging percentage of .470 coming into Saturday's game (via LSUSports.net).
Despite the loss, LSU is set up nicely for the NCAA tournament. The Tigers ended the regular season ranked No. 1 in the coaches' poll and fourth-best RPI (via NCAA.com). There's no reason to think they won't host a regional and super regional.
The Gators are sitting pretty, as well, looking at moving up in the rankings when seeds are announced on Monday. They also get another crack at Vanderbilt in the championship game after taking two out of three games in a series against the Commodores two weeks ago.
Vanderbilt def. Texas A&M
It's safe to say that Vanderbilt has found its stride in the SEC tournament after a slow start. The defending national champions avenged Thursday's loss against Texas A&M with a 12-3 drubbing to secure a spot in the conference title game.
The game appeared as though it would be a tense battle early, with Vanderbilt owning a 4-3 lead after the third inning. A scoreless fourth kept the trend going before the Commodores opened the floodgates with five runs in the fifth inning.
The Aggies were undone by bad defense in the fifth, committing two errors that led directly to two runs and kept the inning going for Jeren Kendall's two-run triple that knocked Tyler Stubblefield out of the game.
Dansby Swanson, whom Baseball America's John Manuel has going second overall in his most recent mock draft, also got in on the action with a two-run homer in the top of the sixth.
According to Baseball America's JJ Cooper, Swanson's homer total this week has surpassed his output as a freshman and sophomore combined:
Swanson wasn't the only one providing the power, as Will Toffey and Zander Wiel went deep. Vanderbilt has scored 28 runs in the last two games, making it safe to say this team is firing on all cylinders at exactly the right time.
In addition to the offensive outburst, John Kilichowski was outstanding in relief of Walker Buehler. The left-hander pitched five perfect innings, with Kendall Rogers of D1Baseball.com noting the Aggies got nothing on offense in the last six innings:
The SEC tournament certainly didn't end the way Texas A&M would have liked, but the Aggies can boast about defeating Vanderbilt earlier this week and are still set up for a very nice spot in the NCAA tournament after a 45-11 season.