HOOVER Ala.– After days of bad weather, games getting pushed back, and two jam-packed days of baseball, the finale has finally arrived as No. 1 Tennessee and No. 7 Florida look to square off in Sunday’s SEC Tournament Championship game.
The Vols (52-7, 25-5 SEC) have had an easy go of it throughout the tournament, cruising to 10-1, 5-2, and 12-2 wins over No. 8 Vanderbilt, No. 4 LSU, and No. 12 Kentucky, respectively. Sunday will be the Vols’ second straight appearance after the fell short to Arkansas in 2021. Tennessee is looking for its first tournament championship since 1995 when it was split into East and West, which mean they are also looking for its first full tournament championship.
The Gators (39-21, 15-15 SEC) opened their tournament with a walk-off, extra innings win over No. 10 South Carolina before getting run-ruled in seven innings by No.2 Texas A&M. However, since the loss, Florida has won three straight over No. 11 Alabama, No. 3 Arkansas , and the Aggies to advance to the SEC Tournament game.
Tennessee has been nothing short of dominant in its three tournament games so far, using both its vast pitching depth and deep bench to outlast the rest of the field.
Out of teams that played multiple games in the tournament, Tennessee’s arms lead the way with a 1.33 ERA in 27 innings. They have allowed just 16 hits and five runs while picking up 35 strikeouts to just 12 walks. Florida on the other hand, has a 4.60 ERA in 43 innings while allowing 38 hits and 22 runs.
On the offensive side of the ball, Tennessee has done in the tournament what it has done all season. They hold a .267 team batting average and have scored 27 runs off of 27 hits, 11 of which were for extra bases. They also have a 1.625 strikeout-walk ratio (26 K:16 BB).
The Vols have been led by the usual suspects in their starting lineup in Trey Lipscomb (4-10, three RBIs) and Drew Gilbert (5-13, four runs, five RBIs). Other guys have come up big in the tournament for Tennessee like Luc Lipcius’ .429 on-base percentage from the two-hole or Cortland Lawson’s .636 slugging and a clutch RBI-double to provide insurance in Saturday’s win over Kentucky.
As for the Gators, they are batting .244 as a team and have scored 29 runs on 38 hits in their five games thus far. Florida leads the way with a tournament-high seven home runs and have the second most double at nine. However, they have a strikeout to walk ratio of 2.5 (45 K: 18 BB).
Florida’s Jac Caglianone (7-18, six RBIs) who has only struck out once in 18 at-bats. Wyatt Langford (6-19, five RBIs) and Jud Fabian lead the Gators with two home runs apiece. Florida has four guys with over .600 slugging percentage, led by Mac Guscette (4-7, five RBIs) with a 1.143.
The Vols have already gone to their big four in Chase Dollander, Chase Burns, Drew Beam, and Blade Tidwell to get them to the championship game. However it was announced that senior right-hander Camden Sewell (6-1, 2.93 ERA) would make the start for the Vols.
Sewell pitched against Florida in the 2021 tournament where he went six innings of two-hit baseball to send the Vols to the championship game. However, expect to see several guys pitch for Tennessee in order to keep as many arms loose as they can with the regional tournament coming up.
As for Florida, their starter will be freshman left-hander Carsten Finnvold (1-0, 16.62 ERA). Finnvold only threw 4.1 innings in the regular season and hasn’t seen any action in the SEC Tournament. He has one inning of work in the SEC, where he gave up three runs on two hits and waked two against LSU.
Just like Tennessee, expect Florida to use a lot of arms.
1. Seth Stephenson LF
2. Luc Lipcius 1B
3. Jordan Beck RF
4. Drew Gilbert CF
5. Trey Lipscomb 3B
6. Jorel Ortega 2B
7. Evan Russell C
8. Blake Burke DH
9. Cortland Lawson SS
1. Wyatt Langford LF
2. Sterlin Thompson 2B
3. BT Riopelle 1B
4. Ty Evans RF
5. Jud Fabian CF
6. Jac Caglianone DH
7. Josh Rivera SS
8. Mac Guscette C
9. Colby Halter 3B