There was no easing into the 2023 season for many SEC teams like Tennessee, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, and Missouri who faced stiff competition. It was the Volunteers who looked the shakiest, dropping a pair of games while becoming the only SEC team not to get at least 2 wins on the weekend.
Meanwhile, several other SEC teams took the opposite approach in week 1 playing outmatched competition and beating them sufficiently.
There weren’t a ton of surprises overall as each team is looking to find the right fits for the lineup and rotation before conference play begins.
Missouri impressive as SEC wins battle with Big 12 in College Baseball Showdown
The premiere event of opening weekend with the SEC and Big 12 facing off at Globe Life Field is the College Baseball Showdown. While Missouri, Vanderbilt, and Arkansas all had winning weekends, it was Missouri who stole the show.
The Tigers got off to a bumpy start as they lost to Oklahoma State 5-3 on Friday because of a 5-run second where a couple of things didn’t go their way.
But then they bounced back with a walk-off win over Texas on Saturday and a comeback win over TCU on Sunday night.
Missouri consistently threw out some impressive arms over the weekend.
Tony Neubeck came on in relief on Friday against Oklahoma State and was mostly untouchable with 9 strikeouts in 3.2 innings.
Closer Zach Franklin pitched 4.2 innings allowing just 1 hit with 10 strikeouts while regularly touching 97 MPH with the fastball combined with a hard slider.
Ty Wilmsmeyer led Missouri at the plate with 7 hits and 4 runs scored, while Luke Mann brought the power with a pair of doubles and a home run.
It was a mixed bag for Vanderbilt who had a winning weekend, including a 12-2 win over Texas, but the offense hit just .255 and the pitching staff had a 6.92 ERA (most of that damage coming against the bullpen late in games).
Bryce Cunningham was the one bright spot out of the bullpen striking out 7 batters in 4 no-hit innings.
Arkansas won a close one over rival Texas 3-2 on Friday, gave up 18 in a loss to TCU on Saturday, and then run-ruled Oklahoma State in a 18-1 win on Sunday.
Jared Wegner had a big weekend offensively for the Razorbacks going 6-11 with 2 doubles, 2 home runs, and 8 RBI.
Hagen Smith was great on the mound for Arkansas allowing just 1 hit and 2 walks in 5 shutout innings with 8 strikeouts against Texas.
Tennessee humbled out West
The Volunteers came into the season with lofty expectations, but many may have overlooked the big losses in the lineup. Add to that eligibility issues for star transfer Maui Ahuna, and the Vols offense looked lost.
They scored just 4 runs in their first two games against Arizona and Grand Canyon – both losses – and then had just 3 runs through the first 6 innings against UC San Diego on Sunday before a 4-run seventh broke things open.
Their pitching will be elite, as expected, but there has to be some early season panic on Rocky Top about the lineup.
And perhaps the most concerning part of the weekend was the poor play defensively, but it is the first weekend of the college baseball season, there is plenty of time to work these things out.
These teams smashed
There is doing what you’re supposed to do and then there is doing what Alabama, South Carolina, Ole Miss, Florida, LSU, and Texas A&M did to their respective opponents.
Here are the combined scores for each weekend series:
South Carolina over UMASS Lowell: 49-5
Alabama over Richmond: 39-5
Ole Miss over Delaware: 35-6
Florida over Charleston Southern: 36-5
LSU over Western Michigan 24-5
Texas A&M over Seattle: 28-7
And several of these games ended in the 7th inning or these scores could have been a lot worse.
Florida’s starting pitchers were really impressive as Brandon Sproat, Hurston Waldrep, and Jac Caglianone combined to strike out 22 batters in 17.1 innings while only allowing 2 earned runs on 6 hits.
Sproat pitched 5.2 no-hit innings on Friday night.
Joseph Gonzalez helped lead the defending College World Series champions to their opening weekend sweep with a 7 RBI game on Sunday.
Braylen Wimmer had a big weekend for the Gamecocks picking up 8 hits, 1 double, 2 home runs, and 8 RBI.
Alabama’s two big-time starters, Grayson Hitt and Ben Hess, combined to toss 11 shutout innings on the weekend allowing just 4 hits and 3 walks with 14 strikeouts.
Andrew Pinckney picked up 8 hits on the weekend for the Crimson Tide, including a home run.
Paul Skenes looked like the most dominant starter in the country in his first game with top-ranked LSU striking out 12 batters in 6 shutout innings.
Sketchy, but we got it done
Kentucky, Georgia, and Mississippi State lost single games to Elon, Jacksonville State, and VMI respectively but they all came away with series wins to start their seasons.
Amani Larry had a huge weekend for Mississippi State collecting 8 hits, including 3 doubles and a home run, while driving in 9 and stealing 4 bases.
Parks Harber had 2 doubles and 2 home runs on the weekend for Georgia.
Zack Lee was solid on the mound for Kentucky striking out 7 in 5 scoreless innings. The Wildcat pitching staff as a whole allowed just 3 earned runs on the weekend striking out 32 batters in 26 innings.
And while Auburn losing to Indiana isn’t a bad look, losing 11-2 on Sunday wasn’t a great way to end the weekend.
Joseph Gonzalez looked solid on the mound for Auburn in Saturday’s win allowing just 2 hits in 5 shutout innings without walking a batter.