The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

Hey, Kentucky is pretty good, too

26 days ago
Kevin Scarbinsky
Photo: Michael Wade

Welcome to the 2022 SEC Baseball Tournament Blog, your online home for the big news, behind-the-scenes notes and quotes and special moments that make this annual event at the Hoover (Ala.) Met the best college baseball tournament in the nation. Check back for updates each day throughout the week.

Kevin O'Sullivan may be a Gator, but he refused to bite. After his Florida team dismissed Texas A&M in the first semifinal, as Tennessee and Kentucky warmed up to decide who would face Florida in Sunday's championship game, someone wanted to know.

Did O'Sullivan want another shot at the No. 1 Vols? After all, Tennessee swept Florida in late April in Gainesville to drop the Gators to 6-12 in SEC play, putting them in jeopardy of not making the SEC Tournament, let alone an NCAA Regional.

Florida is 13-4 against conference opponents since, but despite the hot streak, O'Sullivan wouldn't touch that question even if he were wearing fireproof gloves.

"Kentucky is playing really well, too, right now," he said. "We're just excited we have an opportunity to play tomorrow. But to pick one or the other, I'm not going to do that. Kentucky is pretty good, too."

O'Sullivan wasn't the only coach to give the Wildcats their props this week. They continued their late-season surge, scratching and clawing their way onto the NCAA Tournament bubble with three wins - over NCAA Regional locks Auburn, Vanderbilt and LSU - to reach the semifinals. The ride ended there against Tennessee as the Vols broke open a tie game with 10 runs in their last two at-bats for a 12-2 victory.

"Kentucky, in my opinion, should be in the NCAA Tournament," LSU coach Jay Johnson said earlier Saturday after UK eliminated his Tigers 7-2.

Tennessee coach Tony Vitello joined the chorus of 'Cat fans after their semifinal.

"Their hitters were really good this week, but the way their pitchers grinded is what should get them in a regional," he said. "Those guys played their way into a regional."

The Vols understood how good Kentucky could be before they got to Hoover. UK was the only team to win a series from Tennessee during the regular season, but Vitello said that beating them Saturday "is not getting back at somebody. It's beating a really good team."