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SEC Weekly Roundup (March 31 - April 3, 2022): Tennessee Makes Another Statement

As the SEC continues to beat up on each other, it’s starting to look like a two-team race between Tennessee and Arkansas for the regular season title.

Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Florida, and LSU have all taken big losses in the last couple of weeks, creating a gap between that group and Tennessee and Arkansas at the top. At the same time, it’s opened the door for teams like Georgia and Auburn.

The standings in the SEC are wild after three weeks of conference play as only four teams have a winning record.

Tennessee Doesn’t Back Down to In-state Rival

It’s now a Volunteer state. For years Vanderbilt baseball has dominated the sport in Tennessee, but not anymore.

The Volunteers went into Nashville and took care of their rivals with a clean sweep in rather impressive fashion.

Things got testy early as a Jordan Beck home run was called back in the first inning on Friday because it didn’t have the right sticker on it – it had the sticker from the mid-week game, but not for the weekend series.

Beck would shake that off and get a big 2-run double in the fifth to give Tennessee a 4-1 lead.

But pitching was really the story of the weekend.

Chase Burns gave up 2 earned runs on 5 hits and 1 walks over 5.1 innings with 7 strikeouts on Friday. Chase Dollander had a 1-hitter going through 6 innings on Saturday before giving up a couple of solo home runs in the 7th. He finished the game giving up those runs on 3 hits and a walk with 6 strikeouts over 8 innings to improve to 5-0 as Tennessee won 5-2.

And just when you think that maybe the starter on Sunday we’ll ease up, nope. Drew Beam pitched a 2-hit shutout on Sunday and didn’t walk a single batter, while striking out four.

Drew Gilbert provided the offense for Tennessee with 3 RBI and a home run.

The Vanderbilt pitching did a good job of limiting Tennessee’s bats to just 6, 5, and 5 runs. It was the first time all year the Volunteers didn’t score double-digit runs in a weekend game. But the pitching staff for Tennessee picked up the “slack” by allowing just 4 runs all weekend to one of the best lineups in college baseball.

Shockwaves in Athens as Bulldogs Sweep Rival Gators

If you’ve been sleeping on the Georgia Bulldogs this year, you can’t any longer – I’m looking at you, John and Kyle. Georgia came into the weekend ranked just 34th in our Top 50 rankings, but that’s likely to change after sweeping Florida.

Hunter Barco moved up to start on Thursday instead of his regular Friday night with the early start to the series, and he struggled giving up 3 earned runs on 7 hits and 2 walks with 6 strikeouts over 5 innings.

Still, a Jud Fabian 2-run homer in the top of the 9th gave the Gators a 6-4 lead.

Kevin O’Sullivan decided to stick with Ryan Slater in the ninth after he pitched 3 solid innings, but a walk and hit-by-pitch ultimately led to a Georgia walk-off by Josh McAllister, his third hit of the game.

Jonathan Cannon continued his dominating season pitching 6 shutout innings on Friday for Georgia allowing just 5 hits and 2 walks with 3 strikeouts, picking up his sixth win of the season in a 6-1 win.

Then on Saturday, Georgia was down 6-3 going into the bottom of the seventh where they scored eight runs. Garrett Blaylock, who didn’t even start the game, had the big blast of the inning with a 3-run homer to make it 10-6.

The Bulldogs would go on to win 14-8 to complete the sweep and prove the series loss at Kentucky last week was just a blip on the radar.

As for Florida, they are certainly trending in the wrong direction and have some serious issues in the pitching staff beyond Barco.

Razorbacks Just Keep on Winning Series

Kind of like last year, Arkansas just keeps on winning. They’ve yet to have a losing weekend and they took care of Mississippi State this past weekend.

On Friday, they dominated the defending champions 8-1. Connor Noland allowed just 1 earned run on 4 hits with no walks and 6 strikeouts over 7 innings. Jalen Battles was 2-for-4 with 2 runs, 3 RBI, and 2 home runs.

Cayden Wallace drove in 4 on Saturday and Bradey Slavens knocked in 3 as Arkansas won 12-5. Freshman Hagan Smith gave up 3 earned runs on 3 hits and 3 walks over 6 innings with 7 strikeouts.

Mississippi State did escape the weekend in Fayetteville with a 5-3 win in extra-innings on Sunday.

That’s actually a really big road win for the Bulldogs whose 4-5 record in conference doesn’t look all that bad, especially when you consider their early season struggles.

The Tigers of Auburn Get Big Road Series Win at Baton Rouge

It’s not often an unranked team comes into Baton Rouge and leaves with a series victory, but it’s now happened in the first two SEC home series for LSU as Auburn took two-of-three this past weekend.

A 6-run fifth inning for Auburn proved to just be enough as they held on to win 6-5 despite a late comeback from LSU on Thursday night.

Brody Moore had the big hit for Auburn on Thursday with a 3-run homer in that fifth, which broke a 2-2 tie.

On Friday, LSU used a 5-run seventh inning to pull away late for a 9-2 victory. Dylan Crews was 2-3 with 2 runs, 2 RBI, 1 HR, and 2 walks.

Sonny DiChiara for Auburn stole the show on Saturday going 4-for-5 with a home run and 3 RBI to help lift his team to a 6-4 win and series win.

DiChiara, a transfer from Samford, is having a tremendous season on The Plains batting .461 with 8 home runs in 24 games. The only reason he isn’t in player of the year conversations right now is because of the lack of games played, but he’s certainly a name worth watching.

Ole Miss Bounces Back With Series Win

Ole Miss was humbled last weekend getting swept by Tennessee – who seems to be humbling a lot of teams right now. But they were able to shake that off and get a nice series win on the road at Kentucky.

It was a pitching duel on Friday with the two teams combining for just 3 runs (only 1 earned), 8 hits, and 25 strikeouts. Ole Miss was able to come out on top 2-1.

Dylan DeLucia pitched 6.1 innings allowing 1 unearned run on 3 hits and 1 walk with 5 strikeouts, while Hayden Leatherwood delivered the go-ahead RBI single in the top of the ninth.

On Saturday, Ole Miss jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but then the Wildcats scored nine unanswered runs to win 9-2. Jacob Plastiak hit a pair of home runs in the game and finished with 4 RBI.

Ole Miss came away with the series win with a 10-1 victory on Sunday. Jacob Gonzalez and TJ McCants each drove in three and hit a home run.

South Carolina-Missouri

Josiah Sightler powered the Gamecocks past Missouri on Friday finishing the game 3-for-3 with 2 home runs and 3 RBI as South Carolina won 4-1.

Noah Hall was fantastic on the mound as well, allowing just 1 earned run on 3 hits with no walks and 4 strikeouts over 7 innings.

Saturday was the craziest game of the weekend. South Carolina led 5-2 going into the bottom of the eighth, but Missouri plated 5 runs to take a 7-5 lead.

The Gamecocks answered right back with two in the ninth to tie up, and then Missouri walked it off.

They kept that offensive momentum going into Sunday’s game where they put up a 10-spot and won the series with a 10-3 victory.

Luke Mann was 2-for-4 with 4 runs, 4 RBI, and 2 home runs. Fox Leum was 3-for-4 with 3 RBI. On the mound, Austin Marozas struck out 10 over 6.2 innings only allowing 2 hits.

South Carolina is the only team in the SEC with an overall losing record, and yet they have series wins over Texas and Vanderbilt … go figure.

Alabama Picks up First SEC Series Win of 2022

A tight series between two teams trying to figure it out and see if they can perhaps earn an at-large bid.

Texas A&M took game one 3-2 thanks to a couple of big hits by Brett Minnich who drove in all three A&M runs.

On Saturday, the bats broke out as Alabama won 10-9. The Crimson Tide blew a 7-1 lead as they gave up 7 runs in the sixth, but then scored three in the seventh to come back and even the series.

Pinch-hitter William Hamiter had the big 2 RBI single in the 7th inning to make it a 10-8 game.

Alabama got its first SEC series win of 2022 by taking Sunday’s game 8-4. Zane Denton went 3-for-4 with a run and 2 RBI, while Bryce Eblin was 4-for-5 with an RBI.

Figuring out the Middle of the SEC

As talked about at the top, there appears to be a gap in the conference after Tennessee and Arkansas.

Georgia (6-3) and Auburn (5-4) are the only other two teams with a winning conference record. Everyone else is either 4-5 or 3-6.

Our latest Top 50 rankings have Ole Miss at eight, Vanderbilt at 18, Georgia at 20, Auburn at 28, LSU at 29, Florida at 31, Mississippi State at 42, Kentucky at 45, and Alabama enters the top 50 at 48.

Is there actual parity in the conference, or is the SEC really top heavy this year?

A lot of these teams have some major flaws. Florida and LSU have the offense to score with anyone in the country, but they can’t figure out the pitching. Mississippi State has had some tough luck with injuries, but they’re not playing the type of baseball we typically see from them.

On paper, Vanderbilt looks like the best team in the country, but now they’ve lost five SEC games in a row.

There are seven weeks left in the season, and it should be a lot of fun watching who will step up in the middle of this SEC pack.


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