At first glance of the bracket for the SEC Tournament, the pathway Florida baseball has to follow can seem complex. There is a single elimination round, followed by double elimination and more single elimination.
One simple thing is that if you just keep winning, you get to advance and get to avoid the complexities.
And BT Riopelle has the Gators two wins away from claiming the tournament title.
Florida Baseball: Jacked and gone
The easiest way to think of the SEC Baseball Tournament is the following:
- Seeds 5 through 12 had to play a single elimination game, bringing the field down to eight teams
- Two groups of four are formed. Within your group, you have to win two out of three games to advance to the final four
- The final four then play two single-elimination games to determine a champion
This tournament is mostly for pride for the Gators. Florida wrapped up a top-eight national seed after sweeping Vanderbilt and taking the series against Kentucky.
But based on the emotion we have seen out of Florida during their first two games of the tournament, there is a ton of pride this squad has.
In its opening game against Alabama, Florida found itself in extra innings and, in the top of the 11th gave up three runs to fall behind 6-3.
It would have been easy for the Gators to say screw it, not wanting to burn through its bullpen anymore.
But with the heart of its lineup due to hit, Wyatt Langford hit a single, Jac Caglianone hit a single, and Josh Rivera hit an RBI single.
With the score 6-4 in favor of Alabama, BT Riopelle stepped up to the plate and decided he wanted to go back to the hotel a winner.
This set up last night’s matchup against Vanderbilt, where the winner would advance to the tournament Final Four while the loser would have to come back today and play Alabama.
Once again, Riopelle made it a one-man show to drag the Gators to victory.
His solo home run in the 4th inning put Florida ahead 2-1, but Vanderbilt would tie it back up.
That simply set the stage for his appearance in the 7th inning. With Rivera, Caglianone, and Cade Kurland all on base, Riopelle took a 0-1 pitch with two outs and sent it 424 feet into the Hoover sky for a grand slam.
Florida went on to win 6-3 and are now in the Final Four of the SEC tournament. They will get a rematch against the winner of Alabama vs Vanderbilt.
At this point, winning the tournament will be for nothing more than pride. Florida baseball is locked into a top-eight national seed and is probably even locked into a top-three seed. For the endgame goal of the Gators, which is to make it to Omaha, shuffling around the seeding won’t matter much at this point.
But trophies get to live forever, and the Gators are two wins away from raising another trophy in Hoover.