SEC Baseball Tournament Set – Tennessee, LSU Make History, Kentucky Sneaks Into Last Spot

The SEC Tournament bracket came down to the very end of the regular season Saturday night as Kentucky knocked Auburn out of the No. 4 seed and the accompaying bye with a 6-3 win in Lexington.

The Wildcats (30-24, 12-18 SEC) finished with the No. 12 and last seed in the tournament and will play in the fourth game Tuesday at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in the Birmingham, Alabama, area, at approximately 9 p.m. eastern on the SEC Network against No. 5 seed Auburn (37-18, 16-13) again. An Auburn win Saturday would have given it a bye Tuesday as the No. 4 seed with its opener on Wednesday.

Instead, LSU (37-18, 17-13) took the No. 4 seed as it swept a three-game series at Vanderbilt for the first time in history with a 21-10 win on Sunday. Brayden Jobert hit a grand slam in an 11-run eighth inning for a 14-9 lead. His three-run home run in the seventh cut the Commodores’ lead to 8-7.

Jobert also had a two-run double and finished with nine RBIs – two off the SEC record of 11 set by Mississippi State’s Jason Nappi in 2008 against UAB and tied by Florida’s Preston Tucker in 2009 against Central Florida. Vanderbilt led 6-0 after two innings, but ended up using six pitchers.

“Vanderbilt is the gold standard of college baseball right now,” first-year LSU coach Jay Johnson said. “And to come in here and sweep them is something I’m really proud of.”

The Tigers were swept last weekend by Ole Miss at home.

LSU, which was 13-17 in the SEC last year before reaching a Super Regional at Tennessee under retiring coach Paul Mainieri, will play at approximately 9 p.m. Wednesday on the SEC Network against the Auburn-Kentucky winner.

Vanderbilt (35-19, 14-16) finished below .500 in the SEC for the first time since a 12-17 mark in 2009. The Commodores are the No. 8 seed and will play No. 9 seed Ole Miss (32-21, 14-16) at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin did not meet with reporters after the game. It was just his third below-.500 SEC season since taking over at Vanderbilt in 2003. The Commodores lost the College World Series national championship series to Mississippi State last season. Corbin won national championships in 2014 and ’19 and also finished second in 2015.

State (26-30, 9-21) did not reach the SEC Tournament, finishing with the worst record in the league one year after winning it all at 50-18 and 20-10.

No. 1 Tennessee swept a three-game series at Mississippi State for the first time in program history, winning 27-2, 4-3 and 10-5 in the finale on Saturday.

“No one knew that,” Tennessee coach Tony Vitello said. “Maybe you guys will tweet it out or whatever. Just to win one game on the road in the SEC is an accomplishment, but in particular, this is a tough place to play. I’ve been here a couple of times where it doesn’t go as well for you.”

The Vols (49-7, 25-5) are the gold standard of SEC baseball in 2022 as they won the East by 10 games over Florida and Georgia and became just the third team in SEC history to win 25 or more league games. The previous two were Vanderbilt at 26-3 in 2013 and South Carolina at 25-5 in 2000. Tennessee won its first overall SEC baseball title since 1995.

“So, you know, it swings back and forth,” Vitello said. “And fortunately, for these guys, they’ve earned it. And they get to enjoy that on the trip to Birmingham. But I know they’re tired, too. It was muggy and hot, and they put everything they could into this series, so a little recovery time will be good.”

Tennessee will play at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday on the SEC Network against the Vanderbilt-Ole Miss winner.

The tournament starts at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday with No. 6 Georgia (35-20, 15-15) playing No. 11 Alabama (29-25, 12-17) on the SEC Network. Game two at approximately 2 p.m. will pit No. 7 seed Florida (35-20, 15-15) against No. 10 South Carolina (27-27, 14-16).

The tournament’s Wednesday schedule opens with No. 3 seed Arkansas (38-16, 18-12) playing the Georgia-Alabama winner at 10:30 a.m. No. 2 seed Texas A&M, which won the West for the first time in program history, plays the Florida-South Carolina winner at approximately 2 p.m.

All games will be televised on the SEC Network before the tournament championship game, which will be on ESPN2 at 3 p.m. Sunday. The semifinals will be at 1 p.m. and approximately 5 p.m. Saturday.

All Tuesday games are single elimination with the double-elimination format returning on Wednesday through Friday. Single-elimination returns for Saturday and Sunday.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

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