SEC Baseball Tournament 2021: Championship Schedule and Predictions

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IMay 30, 2021

Arkansas' Cullen Smith (14) celebrates with teammates after hitting a two-run home run against Mississippi in the first inning of an NCAA college baseball game during the Southeastern Conference tournament Saturday, May 29, 2021, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

Arkansas and Tennessee were the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds for the 2021 SEC tournament, and each was expected to have a strong showing this week at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover, Alabama. The two teams took different paths, but both ended up in the same place: the championship game.

The Razorbacks and Vols are set to face off Sunday afternoon for the SEC tourney title. Both teams will be going on to play in the NCAA tournament, but only one will be able to call itself the conference tournament champion.

Arkansas has yet to lose a game in the tournament, going 3-0 with wins over No. 8 Georgia, No. 4 Vanderbilt and No. 5 Ole Miss. Meanwhile, Tennessee lost its first game against No. 10 Alabama but bounced back with wins over No. 3 Mississippi State, Alabama and No. 6 Florida.

Here's everything else you need to know heading into Sunday's championship game.


Championship Game Information

Date: Sunday, May 30

Start Time: 3 p.m. ET


Live Stream: ESPN app


Preview, Predictions

By going 42-10 during the regular season, Arkansas secured its first SEC regular-season championship since 2004. Now, the Razorbacks have an opportunity to do something they have never done before.

The only time that Arkansas has won a conference tournament was in 1985, when it was a member of the Southwest Conference. It's never won the SEC tournament since joining the conference in 1993, but that could change Sunday afternoon in Hoover.

The Razorbacks have had an impressive run to reach this point. They started with an 11-2 win over Georgia in the second round, when they scored six runs in the second inning and never looked back. Then the Hogs beat Vanderbilt 6-4 in the third round, tagging Commodores right-hander Kumar Rocker for five runs in 3  innings.

That pushed Arkansas into the semifinals, where it faced Ole Miss on Saturday. The Razorbacks broke a 2-2 tie on a two-out RBI double by junior infielder Jalen Battles in the sixth inning. Junior right-hander Connor Noland closed out the game with three scoreless innings to earn the save.

"That's all I can ask for, to go out there and perform with everybody, it felt great," Noland said, per Andrew Hutchinson of HawgBeat.

Now, Arkansas' pitching staff will look to shut down a Tennessee lineup that has been raking. After the Vols fell to Alabama 3-2 in 11 innings in their first game of the tournament, they scored 27 total runs while notching three straight wins over Mississippi State, Alabama and Florida.

Not only that, but Tennessee's pitching staff has allowed only four total runs in its four games, which includes back-to-back shutouts in its past two victories. The Vols blanked the Gators 4-0 in the semifinals Saturday, and now they will have a chance to win the SEC tournament for the first time since winning it three straight years from 1993-95.

"I think it's starting to show [how good we are]," Tennessee junior right-hander Camden Sewell said, per Troy Provost-Heron of The Daily Times. "We've got guys that love to compete and throw strikes and trust the guys behind us. As a pitcher, that's all you can ask for."

It hasn't been long since Arkansas and Tennessee last played. The Razorbacks took two out of three games against the Vols in a series from May 14-16, and each of those three contests was decided by one run.

Expect another close matchup between Arkansas and Tennessee on Saturday. But again, it will be the Razorbacks who get the best of the Vols.

Arkansas continues to find ways to win close games against strong teams, and this matchup shouldn't be any different. The Razorbacks' balanced lineup should have a solid showing, with some timely hits in the late innings lifting the team to its first SEC tournament championship.

Prediction: Arkansas 5, Tennessee 3