Thursday is the most important day of action at the 2016 SEC tournament thus far, with two matchups being elimination games and two others featuring teams getting an automatic day off on Friday with a victory.
Three of the top four seeds are fighting for their tournament lives. Top-ranked Mississippi State was the only lower seed to hold serve Tuesday, which leaves South Carolina, Texas A&M and Florida battling desperation as they seek to secure an automatic NCAA tournament berth.
Vanderbilt and Mississippi have been rolling since the tournament's opening day on Tuesday, outscoring their opponents by a combined score of 28-10.
With four games on the schedule Thursday, here are the results from each matchup, an updated bracket and a schedule for the tournament.
|2016 SEC Tournament Results - May 26|
|Game||Matchup||Result/Start Time (ET)|
|9||No. 2 South Carolina vs. No. 3 Texas A&M||Texas A&M 4, South Carolina 1|
|10||No. 4 Florida vs. No. 9 Alabama||Florida 5, Alabama 4|
|11||No. 6 Vanderbilt vs. No. 7 Mississippi||Ole Miss, 12, Vanderbilt 9|
|12||No. 1 Mississippi State vs. No. 5 LSU||LSU 6, Mississippi State 2|
SEC Tournament Bracket (via Max Herz, SEC Network)
Florida def. Alabama, 5-4
Florida was able to fight off elimination thanks to an RBI double from Danny Reyes in the top of the eighth inning that proved to be the difference in a 5-4 win over Alabama.
The SEC Network noted on Twitter that Reyes came into Thursday's game with two hits all season, in addition to providing a GIF of his eighth-inning double:
Alabama took an early 3-1 lead after two innings thanks to back-to-back RBI doubles from Daniel Cucjen and Hunter Webb. The Crimson Tide appeared to have all the momentum, but starter Jake Walters was off his game.
Walters only lasted two innings, being pulled after allowing the first four Florida hitters to reach base in the third that led to the Gators taking a 4-3 lead. The right-hander had five walks and allowed two hits before exiting.
The Crimson Tide bullpen held up their end of the bargain. Matt Foster and Thomas Burrows combined to allow six hits and just one run in seven innings, but the one run wound up being the one that mattered most.
Florida starter Brady Singer wasn't great, allowing four earned runs on five hits and two walks with no strikeouts in six innings.
However, Singer's start doesn't look bad after the Gators won and he was making an emergency start after Logan Shore was unable to pitch due to an illness.
The Gators' bullpen was fantastic in three innings of work, as five pitchers combined to allow just one hit with four strikeouts.
The victory ensures that Florida will be around for at least one more day, with the loser of Mississippi State-LSU being next in line. The Gators did lose four of their six meetings against those two teams during the regular season, so they will be fighting another uphill battle to keep their conference tournament title dreams alive.
Texas A&M def. South Carolina, 4-1
Texas A&M rode a terrific pitching performance from Brigham Hill and a three-run second inning to stave off elimination against South Carolina.
It's a testament to Hill's effort on the mound that the Gamecocks could only muster one run over seven innings despite the Aggies making three errors. The right-hander struck out eight and scattered five hits before exiting.
The second inning is when it became clear that Hill was operating on a different level, as he struck out the side on 12 pitches. Colin Deaver of KAGS News had the perfect response on Twitter:
Hill particularly flummoxed the bottom of South Carolina's lineup. Hitters six through nine in the Gamecocks' order went a combined 0-for-11 with one walk and seven strikeouts.
Nick Banks also provided an appropriate highlight for the Aggies to end the game with this spectacular catch in center field, via SEC Network:
Hill had to be great because South Carolina starter Braden Webb wasn't giving the Aggies hitters a lot of wiggle room. There was a six-hitter stretch in the second inning that caused him problems, highlighted by Michael Barash's RBI double and Jonathan Moroney's RBI single.
Texas A&M struggled down the stretch this season, losing four of its previous six games, so this victory against an SEC power is a huge step in the right direction for head coach Rob Childress.
South Carolina has to go back to the drawing board before the NCAA tournament. The Gamecocks have lost their last eight SEC tournament games dating back to 2012. They were terrific during the regular season, winning 42 games, but their recent failings in the conference tournament are a legitimate reason to panic before the national tourney begins.
Ole Miss def. Vanderbilt, 12-9
The Ole Miss Rebels nearly let a 10-run lead slip from their grasp, but they're moving on to the semifinals after a 12-9 victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores on Thursday.
The seventh-seeded Rebels are now 3-0 in the tournament after wins over Georgia and No. 2-seed South Carolina, and will have a day off for the first time in this tournament.
It's the eighth time this year Ole Miss has eclipsed double digits in runs, the second game in a row, and it has won all eight games in that stretch.
Rebels third baseman Colby Bortles had four RBIs and centerfielder J.B. Woodman hit his conference-best 14th home run of the season.
Ole Miss had a 10-0 lead at one point, but Vanderbilt slowly chipped away at the lead and even scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth, but that's all the Commodores could muster. Vandy right fielder Jeren Kendall had three RBIs, as did center fielder Bryan Reynolds.
It's always a smart choice to take the team that's on a hot streak, and the Rebels are in that position right now. The day off shouldn't halt their progress too much right now, but Ole Miss should be looked at as the favorites with the semifinals looming.
LSU def. Mississippi State, 6-2
The top-seeded Mississippi State Bulldogs are against the ropes after the LSU Tigers picked up another big-time win Thursday, 6-2.
One night after the Tigers defeated the Florida Gators in 14 innings, LSU responded with knocking off the top seed in the tournament and improved to 3-0 in the SEC tournament for the 11th time in program history.
LSU catcher Michael Papierski knocked in three runs, including a two-run single in the bottom of the seventh to push the lead to what would eventually be the final score.
Leadoff hitter Antoine Duplantis had three hits for LSU, and the Tigers will play the winner of Florida/Mississippi State in the semifinals.
LSU seems to be in this position every other year, and it's no surprise it's back to a win away from another conference title game berth.