The top two teams in the SEC announced their presence at the 2022 SEC baseball tournament with emphatic second-round victories.
The Tennessee Volunteers and Texas A&M Aggies won their first games in Hoover, Alabama, by a combined score of 20-1.
Tennessee and Texas A&M had to wait a few extra days to get on to the diamond because of weather issues, but the delays did not hurt their play.
The Volunteers and Aggies appear to be on a collision course for the championship game from the two parts of the bracket.
Tennessee faces the tougher path to the semifinal round on Friday, as it takes on the fourth-seeded LSU Tigers.
Texas A&M gets an upset-minded Alabama Crimson Tide squad that entered Hoover on the outside of the NCAA baseball tournament bubble.
Alabama has more to play for than A&M, but the Aggies have proved to be the better side throughout the season.
The two opening games on Friday will be elimination contests. The Arkansas Razorbacks and Florida Gators and Vanderbilt Commodores and Kentucky Wildcats will play to remain in Hoover over the weekend.
Friday SEC Tournament Schedule
No. 3 Arkansas vs. No. 7 Florida (10:30 a.m. ET)
No. 8 Vanderbilt vs. No. 12 Kentucky (2 p.m. ET)
No. 2 Texas A&M vs. No. 11 Alabama (5:30 p.m. ET)
No. 1 Tennessee vs. No. 4 LSU (9 p.m. ET)
All games can be seen on SEC Network.
Tennessee Rolls Past LSU
Tennessee has been the best team in college baseball all season.
The Volunteers have further proved that over their last five games, as they outscored opponents 69-11.
Forty-one of those runs came against the Mississippi State Bulldogs, who were one of two SEC teams that failed to qualify for the conference tournament.
The final three-game set of the regular season showed that Tennessee is focused on the end goal of winning the College World Series and that it will not play down to its competition.
The top-ranked team in the nation cruised past in-state rival Vanderbilt in the second round behind a 10-run, 10-hit offensive performance.
Seven players in Tennessee's starting nine recorded a hit, and eight different batters drove in a run.
If Tennessee's offense continues to be that well-rounded, it will not matter which team sits in the other dugout.
The LSU Tigers put together a solid five-game stretch of their own, and that continued with an 11-6 win over the Kentucky Wildcats late on Thursday night.
LSU faces the less-than-ideal short turnaround to play on Friday night, but it did only use three bullpen arms, so that may help it deal with Tennessee's loaded lineup.
The two teams did not play each other in the regular season since they reside in different SEC divisions.
LSU is the more flawed team, and it lost three straight second games in series before it started its current five-game winning streak.
That is concerning since a drop in form has happened after winning a weekend opener. Tennessee lost a single regular-season series.
Tennessee owns the deeper roster, and it should be able to get past LSU to set up an easy path to the championship game, in which it needs just one win over the LSU, Vanderbilt or Kentucky in the semifinals to advance.
Texas A&M Halts Alabama's Cinderella Run
Texas A&M made an even bigger statement than Tennessee on Thursday.
The Aggies steamrolled Florida for 10 runs in a game that was ended in the seventh inning because of the 10-run rule.
Texas A&M was the second-best team in the SEC all season, and it would come as a surprise to no one if it played Tennessee in the SEC tournament final.
Like Tennessee, A&M's bats have been fantastic over the last week. The Aggies pounded Ole Miss for 28 runs in their final regular-season series.
Four of A&M's top five hitters in the lineup recorded multiple hits against Florida, and those batters combined to drive in eight of the 10 runs.
If that production keeps up, A&M will be hard to stop, even by Tennessee.
Alabama has been a nice story in Hoover. The Crimson Tide won their first two games over the Georgia Bulldogs and Arkansas Razorbacks to have a shot at being on the NCAA tournament bubble.
Alabama probably needs one or two more quality wins in Hoover to feel safe about its status in the field of 64.
The Crimson Tide own two wins over A&M from a series that took place from April 1-3. Alabama produced 20 runs in that series.
However, A&M has gone either 2-1 or 3-0 in every series since then, and it should provide a much tougher challenge for Alabama this time around.
Alabama's pitching staff held Georgia and Arkansas to six combined runs, but now it faces a more challenging offense with fewer fresh arms out of the bullpen.
Alabama could still make a run at an NCAA tournament berth, but it will likely be through the losers' bracket against the Arkansas-Florida winner.