As teams begin to settle in, we found out in week 2 that perhaps some of these SEC powerhouses aren’t as invincible as previously thought.
LSU suffered their first loss of the season, which happens in baseball, but it was the way they lost to Iowa 12-4 that raised some eyebrows.
And perhaps the biggest surprise of the weekend was Texas A&M losing a series at home to Portland.
However, it was still a great weekend overall in the SEC with A&M being the only team to have a losing weekend. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt and Ole Miss came up with big series wins over ranked non-conference opponents.
Bubbles burst in College Station
Texas A&M came into 2023 with big expectations after reaching the semifinals of the College World Series in 2022, returning a lot of big bats, and bringing back a potential stud on the mound in Nathan Dettmer.
While Dettmer has done his part allowing just 1 earned run over his first 11 innings of 2023 with 15 strikeouts, the offense hasn’t lived up to the hype with just a .230 team average and 41 runs scores – both of which ranks last in the SEC.
This past weekend they were on the verge of getting swept at home by Portland before the heroics of freshman Jace Laviolette who had a walk-off 2-run double on Sunday.
The Aggies also lost a series at home to Penn in the second week last season and things turned out alright, so no need to hit the panic button just yet.
LSU with a slight hiccup and then recovers
Baseball is not the same as other sports in that quite often we see the best teams in the sport lose on occasion, so you knew LSU would drop a game at some point. But perhaps not many people saw them getting drummed by Iowa 12-4 in the Round Rock Classic.
The number one ranked Tigers did manage to beat Kansas State and Sam Houston in the tournament.
Paul Skenes had another great performance on Friday striking out 11 Kansas State batters in 6 innings allowing just 1 earned run on 2 hits and 2 walks.
Dylan Crews showed why he’s the best player in the country with 9 hits on the weekend, including 5 hits and 3 doubles on Sunday alone.
Brayden Jobert had a big game on Sunday as well with 4 hits, 2 home runs, 1 triple, and 5 RBI.
Volunteer pitching carries the way with Coach Vitello
Shortstop Maui Ahuna had still yet to be cleared by the NCAA, and now we might have an idea as to why after head coach Tony Vitello was suspended for this past weekend’s series against Dayton for a violation. However, Tennessee announced on Monday that they both would return this week.
The Volunteer pitching staff settled things down by stymying Dayton bats all weekend allowing a total of 3 runs.
Starters Chase Dollander, Chase Burns, and Drew Beam combined to strike out 28 batters in 18.1 innings (12 each by Dollander and Burns).
The offense did score 12 runs on Friday led by Jared Dickey who was 3-4 with 3 runs, 3 RBI, 1 walk, and a home run. But overall, the offense is still seeking to find its footing.
Vandy, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State get bigs wins for the conference
Ole Miss had a rough start to the weekend after learning Friday night starter Hunter Elliot was being shut down with tightness in his forearm. Then they dropped game one against Maryland 9-2.
However, they recovered nicely, winning the next games over a ranked Terps team.
Star shortstop Jacob Gonzalez helped finish a comeback effort on Saturday with a 2-RBI single in the 7th. He had 3 hits on the day.
Ole Miss run-ruled Maryland on Sunday, 18-8, thanks to a big day from Calvin Harris who was 4-5 with 1 double, 8 RBI, and 2 home runs – including a grand slam.
Their in-state rival, Mississippi State, got off to a similarly bad start to the weekend losing 13-4 to Arizona State before eventually taking the weekend series.
Colton Ledbetter led the way offensively for Mississippi State getting 2 hits in each of the last two games, including a 4 RBI game on Sunday.
Perhaps the best played series of the entire college baseball weekend was between Vanderbilt and UCLA. The two teams swapped shutouts in the first two games with Vanderbilt winning 6-0 on Friday and UCLA 3-0 on Saturday before Vanderbilt squeaked out a 2-1 win in the finale.
Carer Holton was great in Friday’s game, tossing 5.2 innings of shutout baseball with 7 strikeouts.
Davis Diaz had a big weekend at the plate delivering a big 2-out 2-RBI double on Friday to get the scoring started, and then a big 2-run homer on Sunday that was just enough for the win.
Change of plans in Auburn and Alabama series
Both Alabama and Auburn were set to travel to the always beautiful (or so we thought) Southern California this past weekend to face Pepperdine and USC respectively. But with unusually bad weather sweeping through the area, both teams had to change their plans.
USC was willing to move the series to Auburn, while Alabama was able to find another team in need of a quick schedule change in High Point who was supposed to go out West to face California Baptist.
The Crimson Tide swept the series over High Point, although it came with struggles as neither Grayson Hitt or Ben Hess had outstanding games on the mound.
They fell behind 6-0 in Saturday’s game before scoring 7 runs in the 5th inning and ultimately winning 10-6.
As for Auburn, they had some similar issues on the mound – especially with the loss of Joseph Gonzalez – but won the first two games thanks to the offensive performances by Bryson Ware and Cooper McMurray.
Sunday’s game ended in a 12-12 tie. Justin Kirby had a 3-run home run and a grand slam in the game for Auburn.
Gators and Gamecocks out to hot starts
Maybe two of the more underrated teams in the SEC right now are Florida and South Carolina. While the Gators are in our top 10, it still feels like many people don’t put them in the same tier with LSU, Tennessee, Ole Miss, and Vanderbilt. While South Carolina is still in the back half of most top 25s or not ranked at all.
The Gators pretty easily took care of Cincinnati this past weekend scoring 13 runs in all three games.
Josh Rivera had a big weekend at the plate collecting 7 hits, 3 home runs, and 8 RBI. In Sunday’s game, Jac Caglianone had 3 home runs.
On the mound, Brandon Sproat struck out 9 in 5 innings on Friday, while Hurston Waldrep struck out 13 in 6 innings on Saturday.
The Gamecocks offense, which was unstoppable in the first week of the season, cooled off a good bit against a solid Penn team who won the Ivy League last year. But South Carolina still got the sweep, including a couple of 1-run wins in the final two contests.
Will Sanders (5 IP, 4 H, 2BB, 0 ER, 6 Ks) and Noah Hall (8 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 0 ER, 12 Ks) remain outstanding atop the starting rotation.
Shortstop Braylen Wimmer is hitting .517 on the year with 4 home runs, 13 RBI, and 5 stolen bases through 8 games.
Gavin Cases and Will McGillis hit back-to-back homers in the 8th inning of Sunday’s game to give them the lead and the sweep.
Taking care of business
Georgia and Missouri each won 4-game series against Princeton and Florida International respectively.
Georgia had a couple of good pitching performances with Jaden Woods coming out of the bullpen to strike out 11 batters in just 4.2 innings on Friday. Then on Saturday, Liam Sullivan struck out 11 in 7 innings of shutout baseball.
Missouri, who was the talk of college baseball after week 1, dropped a game on Thursday to FIU before winning the next three.
Tony Neubeck continues to be a huge weapon out of the bullpen for Missouri throwing 5 shutout innings on Friday with 6 strikeouts.
Hank Zeisler homered in all four games against FIU, including a grand slam in Friday’s game.
Arkansas and Kentucky each won their series against Eastern Illinois and Wright State respectively.