SEC baseball tournament: Alabama reaches 40 wins, Arkansas heads to semifinals

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The SEC baseball tournament continued with four games Thursday in Hoover, Ala. Here’s what you need to know:

Alabama responds

Alabama interim coach Jason Jackson saw his team respond as well as it could’ve given the circumstances Thursday afternoon. The Crimson Tide blew a three-run lead over second-ranked Florida just the night before in an extra-innings thriller. There was little time to digest the loss as they had to play rival Auburn in an elimination game.

Both teams entered the contest jockeying for national seeding positioning in the NCAA Tournament. But Alabama prevailed behind a strong outing by pitcher Garrett McMillan and an offense that tallied 14 hits.

“It’s a credit to these guys after (Wednesday) night,” Jackson said. “You lose a heartbreaker and go back to the hotel, and like I said here in this press conference (after the Florida game), it’s OK to be pissed but don’t bring it with you to the yard today.

“You could tell this morning when we were in our pregame stuff, they were loose as could be, and we were riding on the bus over here, and you could just feel it, they had kind of turned the page.”

Auburn’s big highlight arrived in the sixth inning when Bryson Ware broke the program home run record in a season (24) with a solo shot. The Tigers attempted a rally in the ninth, cutting their deficit to 7-4 and had runners in scoring position. But Alabama closed the door and avoided a repeat of the previous night.

Alabama reached the 40-win mark for the first time since 2010. As of Thursday, the team was the projected No. 11 national seed by D1Baseball, meaning it would host a regional for the first time since 2006. A win over the No. 19 team in the country only bolsters those chances. The Crimson Tide will play again on Friday against the loser of Florida-Vanderbilt (time to be determined).

Auburn, a projected No. 10 national seed, will await its NCAA fate on Selection Monday.


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Texas A&M continues strong pitching

Texas A&M threw its second one-hitter of the tournament in its win over South Carolina. This time freshman Justin Lamkin delivered career highs in innings pitched (seven) and strikeouts (nine).

The Aggies entered the tournament as the No. 10 seed and played in a single elimination game on Tuesday. Now, they’ll play LSU on Friday at 3 p.m. CT for a chance at the semifinals on Saturday. Currently, they’re a projected No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

South Carolina is eliminated and finds itself on the regional host bubble ahead of Selection Monday.


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Costly LSU mistake

The third game of the session featured a pair of top-five-ranked teams. The Razorbacks broke open a tightly contested game in the fourth inning and never looked back.

LSU opted for All-America pitcher Paul Skenes, but after surrendering two runs and loading the bases in the fourth inning with two outs, he was pulled for reliever Riley Cooper. It appeared that Cooper got the Tigers out of the jam by forcing a fly ball, but the umpires called for catcher’s interference, resulting in a run and Arkansas back at the plate. Right fielder Jace Bohrofen took advantage with a single that brought home two more runs and Arkansas for a 5-2 lead.

The Tigers scored two more runs, including a Dylan Crews home run in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough to fully mount a comeback.

Arkansas remains undefeated in the tournament and has a bye into Saturday’s semifinals.

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(Photo of Tommy Seidl: Michael Wade / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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