SEC Baseball Tournament: LSU, Kentucky Into Semifinals

SEC Baseball Tournament

photo courtesy of LSU Media Relations

HOOVER, Al — We are three days into the 2014 SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama and we are just five games removed from Sunday’s championship at 3:30 p.m.

The Louisiana State Tigers and Kentucky Wildcats have earned spots in semifinal matchups on Saturday, whereas Mississippi and Arkansas, as well as Florida and Mississippi State will face off to move on in the tournament on Friday.

Without further a do, below is a brief recap of Games 9-12 of the 2014 SEC Tournament that took place on Thursday, May 22:

Game 9: Mississippi 7, Vanderbilt 2

Vanderbilt opened the SEC Tournament by grabbing a 3-2 victory over Tennessee on Tuesday, but was greeted on Wednesday by a hard-charging Louisiana State offense, as the Tigers routed the Commodores by a score of 11-1 before the game was halted after seven frames (as per SEC Tournament rules, games are halted after the seventh inning if a team holds a lead of 10 or more runs).

As for Mississippi, the Rebels were unable to score late in Wednesday’s contest against Arkansas, as Jacob Stone closed out the game to grab the 2-1 victory for the Razorbacks. As such, the Razorbacks were able to advance in the winner’s bracket, while the Rebels were to face the Commodores in a must-win contest on Thursday.

How did that fair? Well for starters, the Commodores jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, but the Rebels took a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth and never looked back. The Rebels unloaded with a four-run seventh, led by Austin Anderson’s two-run single up the middle, and later tacked on a seventh run in the ninth to cement a 7-2 victory. With the victory, the Rebels move on in the tournament and are set to face Arkansas on Friday at 4:00 p.m.

Game 10: Florida 7, South Carolina 2

As for both Florida and South Carolina, the SEC Eastern Division rivals were on the losing side of their respective battles on Wednesday. While the Gamecocks faced a 12-0 defeat at the hands of Mississippi State (prompted by an eight-run seventh inning by the Bulldogs), the Gators gave up four early runs and could not bounce back, accepting the eventual 4-2 loss to Kentucky.

In Thursday’s contest, the Gamecocks got off to a 2-0 lead heading into the bottom half of the third, but the Gators responded with seven unanswered runs. Florida started their rebound with a three-run third, led by Taylor Gushue’s two-run single up the middle and an RBI bunt single by Braden Mattson.

The Gators added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth on a pair of RBI singles by Casey Turgeon and Richie Martin, while Josh Tobias launched a solo home run to left in the sixth and Turgeon drove in his second run of the day with a single to center in the eighth to extend the lead to 7-2.

Bobby Poyner grabbed the win (his fifth on the season) after tossing five shutout innings in relief of A.J. Puk (4.0 IP, 2 ER) and cementing the victory for the Gators. South Carolina is now eliminated from the tournament, whereas Florida will face Mississippi State on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Game 11: Louisiana State 7, Arkansas 2

Arkansas grabbed a 4-0 victory over Texas A&M on Tuesday and followed with a 2-1 triumph over Mississippi on Wednesday to earn a shot at Louisiana State on Thursday. As for the Tigers, Baton Rouge’s finest upended Vanderbilt by a score of 11-1 on Wednesday. Despite the winning ways of the Western Division rivals, push came to shove on Thursday, as only one team would come away with the victory.

The Razorbacks jumped on the board early with a single run in the bottom of the first, as Clark Eagan scored from third on a throwing error by catcher Tyler Moore. However, Arkansas would not score again until the eighth inning on a Brian Anderson sac fly to left, leaving the door open for the Tigers to plate seven runs in the process.

Tyler Moore got things started in the top of the second with a solo shot to right, his fourth long ball of the season. The Tigers took the lead in the third on a pair of RBI singles by Chris Chinea and Sean McMullen and did not look back, plating four additional runs between the sixth and eighth innings.

Aaron Nola picked up his 10th victory of the season after tossing 7 1/3 innings of two run ball and helped pitch his Tigers into a semifinal contest against either Mississippi or Arkansas on Saturday afternoon.

Game 12: Mississippi State 6, Kentucky 7

Both Mississippi State and Kentucky were victorious in their respective contests on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Bulldogs grabbed a walk off victory against Georgia on Tuesday, a 5-4 triumph decided on an errant throw from catcher Brandon Stephens on a sac bunt by Jake Vickerson, which allowed Gavin Collins to cross the plate for the winning run.

The Bulldogs responded with a 12-0 rout of South Carolina on Wednesday to propel them into their Thursday matchup against Kentucky, who grabbed a 7-1 victory over Alabama on Tuesday and a 4-2 triumph over Florida on Wednesday.

Thursday evening’s contest was a 12-inning affair that witnessed the Wildcats come out on top. The Bulldogs broke a 5-5 tie in the top of the ninth on a Gavin Collins RBI single through the left side that plated Brett Pirtle for what would have been the go-ahead run. However, Kentucky’s Ka’ai Tom drove a sac fly to center, plating Marcus Carson for the game-tying run and giving the crowd of 8,501 at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium free baseball.

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the 12th, Zach Arnold ripped a single to short, plating Matt Reida for the game-winning run. As such, Mississippi State will face Florida on Friday at 7:30 p.m., whereas Kentucky will face either Florida or Mississippi State this Saturday evening.

About the Author

Josh Vadeboncoeur
Follow Josh on Twitter @vadeboncoeurCBC Josh is currently a student at the University of Florida pursuing a Master of Science degree in Sport Management. He’s an avid fan and scholar of the game, who although has a place in his heart for his Gators, is as objective as they come. Josh is a member of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, giving him official votes in the Dick Howser Trophy, Regional Players of the Year, and NCBWA All-America voting. Josh’s knowledge of the game of baseball ranges from the post-Civil War baseball boom to the current modern era, covering topics such as business and politics of the game to the minor leagues to negro league baseball and even international expansion. But most of all, a strong passion lies in his heart for college baseball.