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SEC Baseball: Weekend 4 of Conference Play

SEC Baseball: Weekend Four of Conference Play

Standings

Three weekends into conference play and the trend has seen SEC West teams dominate their SEC East counterparts. Georgia and Vanderbilt are fighting it out in the East and will face-off this weekend with the winner standing atop the division. Florida has turned it around after a slow start with a three-game sweep of Alabama last weekend.

SEC Baseball: Weekend Four of Conference Play
SEC Standings

In the West, all but Alabama has a winning conference record with a near four-way tie for first. Texas A&M stands atop the division after a tie against Missouri this past weekend set them ahead. Auburn, Arkansas and LSU sit tied for 2nd with a 6-3 record.

Rankings

The SEC holds on to nine teams in the USA Today Top 25 this week with Tennessee dropping out after going 1-3 last week.

SEC Baseball Weekend 4 Preview
Ole Miss shortstop Grae Kessinger scores as part of a 10-5 win at Arkansas Sunday. (Photo courtesy of wholehogsports.com).
  • #4 Vanderbilt (2)
  • #7 Georgia
  • #8 Mississippi State
  • #9 Arkansas
  • #11 Texas A&M
  • #12 LSU
  • #15 Auburn
  • #18 Ole Miss
  • #21 Florida

Vanderbilt once again is the highest ranked in the conference as well as the only team to receive first-place votes with two. Ole Miss saw the biggest jump in the rankings, moving up four spots after winning their series against Arkansas this weekend in Fayetteville. Mississippi State made the biggest drop falling out of the top 5 and down six spots after losing 2 out of 3 against LSU.

Midweek Slumps

The midweek saw five SEC teams lose to out of conference opponents. For some teams, it was a Tuesday to put out of their mind after losing games that left fans bewildered.

Troy (14-14) 8, Alabama (20-10) 4

Troy quickly took a 7-1 lead in the first three innings with a little help from sophomore centerfielder Reed Smith’s grand slam in the top of the second. After the comfortable lead, Troy put in senior DH Sadler Goodwin to pitch the next 6.1 innings and secure the win for the Trojans. It is Troy’s first win over Alabama since 2007.

North Alabama (6-21) 10,  #18 Ole Miss (20-10) 6

It was Kids Day at Swayze Field and the home crowd was shocked to see their Rebels get dominated by the North Alabama Lions. In their first year at D1 level, the Lions offense came into the game ranking 289 out of 299 in team batting average. They forced Ole Miss to use seven pitchers and scored 10 or more runs for just the second time this season. It is the first time UNA has beaten an SEC opponent since 1992.

Little Rock (11-18) 17, #9 Arkansas (22-7) 7
SEC Baseball: Weekend Four of Conference Play
Little Rock wins their first ever meeting against Arkansas. (Photo courtesy of lrtrojans.com).

Arkansas had a 6-3 lead against Little Rock through 4 innings until they also fell victim to the grand slam. Senior outfielder Troy Alexander gave the Trojans a 7-6 lead with one swing of the bat and they never looked back.

They would play add on later in the game tagging on ten more runs from the 7th inning on. It was the first meeting between the two teams and Arkansas’s third straight loss.

The midweek wasn’t all bad as #7 Georgia traveled to #19 Clemson to beat the Tigers 5-3. South Carolina hosted #3 NC State and surprised them with a huge 10-8 win. With his second home run of the game, senior Jacob Olson walked it off against the Wolfpack breaking up an 8-8 tie in the bottom of the ninth. And finally #11 Texas A&M continued its dominance over the Big12 after a 9-6 win at #17 Texas.

Games to Watch For

SEC Baseball: Weekend Four of Conference Play
Weekend Schedule

There is no shortage of excitement this weekend as it features four ranked matchups including a huge series in Athens among the SEC East’s top two teams. In the SEC West, the top four teams will be facing off in a fight to stand alone atop the division.

#21 Florida 21-10 (4-5)  vs #18 Ole Miss 20-10 (5-4)

The first ranked series pits Florida at Ole Miss. Florida comes into Oxford riding a five-game winning streak, capitalizing on some dominant pitching along the way. Florida pitching hasn’t allowed more than three runs since March 23 at Vanderbilt, the second best offense in the conference.

Ole Miss came sputtering in to last weekend after a disappointing showing against Missouri. They came out of the weekend with heads held high after winning the series against Arkansas. After a hiccup in the midweek, Ole Miss is still struggling to find their stride but is trending in the right direction.

Expect a lot of runs as Ole Miss has the third most runs scored in the conference, just ahead of Florida in fourth. Neither team has strong pitching staffs, with both in the bottom four in ERA. They land 13th and 14th in the conference in homeruns allowed as well. This series will be decided on Sunday with Ole Miss’s Gunnar Hoglund facing off against Florida’s Tyler Dyson, two pitchers who have had their share of struggles in recent appearances.

#9 Arkansas 22-7 (6-3) vs #15 Auburn 22-7 (6-3)

This one’s a top 15 matchup between two teams tied for second in the West. Neither team has had a lot of success recently. After winning the Friday night against Ole Miss, Arkansas has dropped their last three games. Auburn meanwhile has lost five of their last seven, also losing in their midweek against Georgia Tech.

Arkansas has the advantage this weekend as Auburn’s pitching rotation will be depleted once again. The big task for the Razorbacks will be Auburn ace Tanner Burns who has given up multiple runs in only one game this season. The Tigers’ Saturday starter Jack Owen will be sidelined again as he monitors his injury that has kept him out the last two weeks. Freshman Brooks Fuller will take his place with the final starter still up in the air. With the least runs scored in the conference, Auburn’s struggles might continue this weekend.

#11 Texas A&M 24-6-1 (6-2-1) vs #12 LSU 21-9 (6-3)
SEC Baseball: Weekend Four of Conference Play
LSU celebrates winning the series against Mississippi State last weekend. (Photo courtesy of lsusports.net).

Baton Rouge is going to be bouncing this weekend with the red hot Aggies, winners of 9 of their last 11 coming to town. LSU went into Starkville last week after losing four in a row and took two out of three from then ranked #2 Mississippi State.

Both teams are very evenly matched with Texas A&M having an edge with their starting rotation. The duo of John Doxakis and Asa Lacy has given teams headaches all year. If LSU allows A&M’s starters to get into a groove, they’ll be in for a long, quiet weekend.

This series can go either way and is a must watch under the lights for a shot at standing alone atop the SEC West.

#4 Vanderbilt 23-6 (6-3) vs #7 Georgia 25-5 (7-2)

Vanderbilt’s high octane offense enters Athens to face off against a pitching staff that allows the least amount of hits in the SEC. The Commodores have five guys in the starting lineup hitting over .349, as well as three players with 36 or more RBI. This lineup is a nightmare top to bottom for opposing pitchers.

Georgia comes in without losing a series all season. The rotation is led by 2020 MLB prospect Emerson Hancock who boasts a 0.98 ERA. Saturday and Sunday is no easier with C.J. Smith at a 2.49 ERA and Tony Locey at 2.35.

Something will have to give this weekend but Vanderbilt’s offense hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down in SEC play. If Georgia is up to the task they’ll secure their place atop the division but Vanderbilt’s offense will likely prove too much to handle.

 

 

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