We’re now halfway through the SEC slate and Vanderbilt stands atop the standings after a big series win at home over South Carolina this past weekend.
Despite LSU being the top ranked team in college baseball all season, it’s Arkansas who is on top of the SEC West standings after a very impressive sweep over Tennessee.
Now is the time we’re the teams at the bottom try to separate themselves and work their way into an at-large bid as Texas A&M has been doing with another series win.
South Carolina (30-6, 10-4)-Vanderbilt (29-7, 13-2)
South Carolina jumped on the home team, Vanderbilt, with a 14-6 win in game one of this series. But the Commodores won a couple of close games to take the series.
Cole Messina had a pair of home runs in game one to help lead the charge.
It looked like Carolina was going to run away with game two as well after they jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning and chased Carter Holton after just 2/3 of an inning.
But the Vanderbilt pitching staff held South Carolina to just 1 run on 2 hits and 3 walks over the next 8.1 innings with 11 strikeouts.
Jack Bulger had a home run and drove in 2 runs to aid Vanderbilt’s offense in scoring 8 unanswered and give the Commodores a 8-5 win.
In game three, Vanderbilt took advantage of two walks and an error that led to a 3-run sixth that ultimately propelled the Commodores to a 6-4 and another series victory.
Vanderbilt takes its SEC-leading 13 wins to Knoxville next weekend to try and kick their rival while they're down. After playing the top team in the SEC East, South Carolina will now head home to face the second place team in the SEC East in Florida.
LSU (29-6, 9-5)-Kentucky (28-7, 10-5)
Paul Skenes allowed the most runs he’s given up in a game all year (5 R, 4 ER) in game one of this series, but he also tied his season-high with 13 strikeouts.
The offense provided plenty of support led by Tommy White who was 3-5 with 2 RBI as LSU won 16–5 in 8 innings.
Nolan McCarthy of Kentucky had a bases clearing triple in the fifth inning of game two that tied the game at 6 and propelled Kentucky to a 13-10 win to even up the series.
Chase Stanke was 3-4 with 4 RBI for the Wildcats in the win.
LSU made 3 errors in the game that led to 6 unearned runs for Kentucky.
Game three was a back-and-forth contest with Kentucky coming from behind a couple of times and then LSU tying it up at 6 in the seventh inning. Tommy White got hit by a pitch in the eighth in that forced in the winning run for LSU.
It’s another series win for LSU but it was also an impressive showing on the road for Kentucky in the final two games.
The Wildcats will host Texas A&M next weekend while LSU goes to Ole Miss.
Tennessee (23-13, 5-10)-Arkansas (29-7, 11-4)
The Arkansas pitching staff had a great weekend holding the Tennessee offense to just 7 runs as they earned a sweep to remain atop the SEC West standings.
Hunter Hollan and Hagan Smith combined to allow just 1 earned run on 6 hits and 1 walks with 13 strikeouts in game one.
Tavian Josenberger and Jace Bohrofen both went deep for the Hogs in the 5-2 win.
In game two it was Will McEntire and Gage Wood who got Arkansas through 9 innings allowing just 3 earned runs on 7 hits with 11 strikeouts.
Bohrofen homered again in the 6-3 victory.
Arkansas jumped on Tennessee starter Drew Beam in game three scoring 6 runs in the first 2 innings and chasing him out of the game.
Brady Slavens had a bases clearing triple and finished the game with 4 RBI as Arkansas finished off the sweep with a 7-2 win.
Things don’t get easier for the downtrodden Volunteers as they have to face Vanderbilt next weekend. Arkansas will head to Athens and take on Georgia looking to build their SEC West lead.
Georgia (19-17, 4-11)-Florida (30-7, 11-4)
If there is one big area of weakness for Florida this year it’s been their bullpen. In game one of this series, the Gators carried a 10-4 lead into the eighth inning only to see Georgia score 2 runs in the eighth and start the ninth inning with three straight singles.
One out later, Connor Tate blasted a grand slam that tied the game at 10. The Gators allowed a total of 7 in the ninth and Georgia took a 13-11 win.
Charlie Condon had a big game for Georgia going 3-4 with 4 runs scored and 5 RBI.
Luke Heyman and Cade Kurland each drove in 4 runs for Florida.
After a slugfest in game one, game two saw a pitcher’s duel between Charlie Goldstein of Georgia and Hurston Waldrep of Florida.
Goldstein allowed just 1 earned run on 2 hits and 3 walks over 5 innings with 7 strikeouts, while Waldrep only allowed 1 run as well on 3 hits and 3 walks with 8 strikeouts in 7 innings.
The game was tied 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth before Michael Roberston delivered this walk-off hit.
Jac Caglianone did it all for Florida in game three tossing 5 innings and only giving up 2 runs while also hitting a 3-run homer and a grand slam for a 7 RBI day at the plate as the Gators won 11-6.
Florida will have a tough weekend traveling to South Carolina, while Georgia hosts Arkansas.
Ole Miss (20-16, 3-12)-Mississippi State (22-15, 5-10)
Looking at the records you might not think this was a matchup of the last two College World Series champions. But they played perhaps the most compelling series of the weekend with three games decided by a total of 4 runs.
Ole Miss took game one behind a good start from Jack Dougherty who gave up just 1 earned run on 2 hits and 1 walk with 4 strikeouts in 6 outs.
They out-hit Mississippi State 12-2, but it took a Kemp Alderman home run in the eighth and Calvin Harris RBI single in the ninth to scrape by with the 3-2 win.
In game two, these teams swapped 2-run innings in three different innings, including the ninth inning when Mississippi State got a walk-off 2-run single by Dakota Jordan to even up the series with a 8-7 win.
Colton Ledbetter had a pair of home runs in the game for the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State had a 3-0 lead early in game three but Ole Miss tied it in the top of the seventh. But true to this series, Mississippi State answered right back with a 2-run homer by Hunter Hines in the bottom of the seventh that led to the 5-3 win.
Jurrangelo Cijntje pitched well for Mississippi State, giving up just 1 run and striking out 7 over 5.2 innings.
Ole Miss now finds itself with the worst record in the SEC and a date with LSU coming up this weekend. Mississippi State and Auburn will faceoff on the Plains next weekend with the loser of that series being in real danger of missing Hoover.
Auburn (20-15-1, 5-10)-Alabama (26-11, 6-9)
Auburn got a big start from Tommy Vail in game one who tossed 6.2 scoreless innings. The offense scored the first 8 runs of the game before Alabama attempted a minor comeback in the ninth to make it a 8-4 final.
In game two it was Alabama who got a good start with early scoring. Garrett McMillan pitched 5 scoreless innings allowing just 1 hit with 4 strikeouts for the Crimson Tide.
Mac Guscette had a big 2 RBI double in the second for Alabama to make it 3-0 early. They went on to win 4-2 after a late rally by Auburn.
The top three in the order for Alabama (Jim Jarvis, Tommy Seidl, and Drew Williamson) combined to reach base 9 times in game three, scored 2 runs and drove in 4 as Alabama got the 6-1 win – their first SEC series win of the year and one they had to have at home.
Both of these teams have suffered some big injuries in their starting rotation with Auburn missing Joseph Gonzalez for essentially the entire season and Alabama now without Benn Hess and Grayson Hitt.
Both will have an opportunity to pick up ground on some of the other teams at the bottom of the conference as Auburn hosts Mississippi State next weekend and Alabama travels to Missouri.
Missouri (22-13, 5-10)-Texas A&M (22-14, 7-8)
After a low start to conference play against some of the top teams, Texas A&M has now won three series in a row after taking care of Missouri at home this past weekend.
A 9-run third inning in game one helped propel Texas A&M to the 13-5 win. Missouri walked six batters, including the first four batters of the inning, and made 2 errors in what was a disastrous third inning.
Texas A&M used another 9-run inning game two to get a 13-1 win in 7 innings. This time Missouri only walked two batters but still made 2 errors. Jace LaViolette had a 2-run homer and Brett Minnich had a 3-run homer in that 9-run fifth inning.
Evan Aschenbeck continues to be a weapon out of the bullpen striking out 8 batters in 5 innings without allowing a walk.
Luke Mann hit a couple of home runs and drove in seven for Missouri in the final game, and they avoided giving up a 9-run inning which helped them get the 13-5 win.
Missouri will try to get back on track at home against Alabama next weekend while Texas A&M looks to continue its run of success at Kentucky.
SEC Power Rankings Week 9
5. South Carolina
8. Texas A&M
9. Alabama (up one)
10. Mississippi State (up four)
11. Missouri (down two)
13. Ole Miss (down two)
14. Georgia (down one)