Around the Bases: Approaching Second

Aroundthebases_medium
Again, this is the new and improved Around the Bases. Now, with 0 grams of trans fat! Apologies to Big 12 Hardball, from whom I "borrowed" some of the formatting and none of the quality. We are, by the way, approaching the halfway point of the league schedule, which will come at the end of next week.

LSU AT GEORGIA

Series LSU 2-1 Runs: 23-19
Friday LSU 8 Georgia 4
Saturday Georgia 10 LSU 8
Sunday LSU 7 Georgia 5

This was it, folks -- the series of the weekend. And LSU left its message in no uncertain terms: For now, at least, the SEC is theirs. Or did they? The scores are not overwhelming -- the first game's four-run margin was the largest (though deceptively small) -- and the end, someone has to win the series at least 2-1. This isn't the end of Georgia's reign in the SEC East, either, so there might be an even more important showdown in these teams' futures. And LSU still has to catch Arkansas to control the SEC West. Whatever you say about the quality of the opposition, the Hogs are still 10-2, which is hard to do no matter whom you're playing.

THIS WEEK FOR LSU: vs. Grambling (Wednesday); at Alabama (Weekend)
THIS WEEK FOR GEORGIA: vs. Winthrop (Tuesday-Wednesday); at Kentucky (Weekend)

ARKANSAS AT SOUTH CAROLINA

Series Arkansas 2-1 Runs: 14-17
Friday Arkansas 6 South Carolina 4
Saturday South Carolina 9 Arkansas 1
Sunday Arkansas 7 South Carolina 4

All Arkansas had to do to maintain its two-game lead in the SEC West was go 2-1. Mission Accomplished. For both teams in this series, though, it was something of a mixed bag. South Carolina has been uneven at best this year, which means its win in the runs differential column isn't exactly a stunner but should still give Arkansas fans pause. (The Sunday game in particular.) The Hogs have yet to play the Dawgs, the Rebels or the Bayou Bengals, and series with all three of those teams loom. Add to that the huge midweek interconference battle with Arizona State, and this team will be severely tested soon enough. The Gamecocks, meanwhile, remain mired below .500 in the SEC, at 5-7 -- and series with Ole Miss, Georgia and Florida remain.

THIS WEEK FOR ARKANSAS: vs. Arizona State (Tuesday-Wednesday); vs. Vanderbilt (Weekend)
THIS WEEK FOR SOUTH CAROLINA: vs. Clemson (Tuesday); at Clemson (Wednesday); at Ole Miss (Weekend)

KENTUCKY AT OLE MISS

Series Ole Miss 3-0 Runs: 22-6
Friday Ole Miss 4 Kentucky 3
Saturday Ole Miss 10 Kentucky 3
Sunday Ole Miss 8 Kentucky 0

Needing to keep pace, Ole Miss did one better, winning one of the weekend's few sweeps to move one game closer to Arkansas and into a tie with LSU for second in the SEC West. To do so, they beat one of the worst teams in the league save truly dreadful Tennessee, which has a mind-boggling .083 SEC winning percentage (more on that later). Pitcher Scott Bittle has been nothing short of outstanding. For Kentucky, this was pretty much the last glimmer of hope being wiped from their season. Sure, Ole Miss is good, but you've got to at least be able to hang around. But, hey, the Wildcats had a good weekend (as always) in the basketball tourney, right?

THIS WEEK FOR KENTUCKY: at Western Kentucky (Tuesday); vs. Western Kentucky (Wednesday); vs. Georgia (Weekend)
THIS WEEK FOR OLE MISS: vs. New Orleans (Tuesday-Wednesday); vs. South Carolina (Weekend)

FLORIDA AT VANDERBILT

Series Vanderbilt 2-1 Runs: 24-20
Friday Florida 8 Vanderbilt 4
Saturday Vanderbilt 4 Florida 3
Sunday Vanderbilt 16 Florida 9

The Gators squander a chance to pull even with Georgia in the standings and in the process, I suppose, give some faint glimmer of hope to Vanderbilt that their SEC season isn't over yet. All of that could have been avoided if Florida hadn't allowed the Commodores to go on a 14-0 run in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings during Sunday's demolition. Give the other team 16 hits, four walks and three errors, and odds are pretty good you're going to lose the game. The good news for Florida, such as it is, is that they still have a head-to-head series with Georgia -- so if they can stay within two games through April, they can always take the lead in May. But the Gators had a prime opportunity this weekend, playing a sub-.500 in the SEC opponent while the Dawgs took one what could be one of the best teams in the country.

THIS WEEK FOR FLORIDA: vs. Bethune-Cookman (Tuesday); vs. UCF (Wednesday); at Auburn (Weekend)
THIS WEEK FOR VANDERBILT: vs. Middle Tennessee State (Tuesday); at Arkansas (Weekend)

AUBURN AT MISSISSIPPI STATE

Series Auburn 2-1 Runs: 24-26
Friday Auburn 9 Mississippi State 8
Saturday Mississippi State 8 Auburn 3
Sunday Auburn 12 Mississippi State 10

Not too much to say about this one. A team tied for fourth in the division plays the last-place team in the division. Only one game is decided by more than two runs. Neither of these teams is likely to be much of a factor in the race for the SEC West, with both facing huge deficits and challenging schedules, though Mississippi State gets to take on Tennessee this weekend in what should be a sight to see. Or avoid.

THIS WEEK FOR AUBURN: vs. Georgia State (Tuesday); vs. Florida (Weekend)
THIS WEEK FOR MISSISSIPPI STATE: at UAB (Tuesday); vs. Southern Miss (Wednesday); at Tennessee (Weekend)

TENNESSEE AT ALABAMA

Series Alabama 3-0 Runs:  23-7
Friday Alabama 9 Tennessee 2
Saturday Alabama 6 Tennessee 1
Sunday Alabama 8 Tennessee 4

Should someone tell Tennessee that there's no NCAA requirement that the Vols have a baseball team? This is getting really ugly, really quickly. The Vols have now lost nine straight in league play. (Yes, I realize the article has a different score for the Saturday game -- I found three different results for this game and went with the one from the SEC.) Tennessee is the only team in the SEC to have a losing record overall, though Mississippi State could soon spare them that distinction. The Vols have two major problems: They struggle to get on base, and they struggle to keep the other team off base. Fix that, and they've got it made. The Tide, for its part, plugs along at .500 in baseball. Which isn't great. But at least it isn't Tennessee

THIS WEEK FOR TENNESSEE: vs. Appalachian State (Tuesday); vs. Lipscomb (Wednesday); vs. Mississippi State (Weekend)
THIS WEEK FOR ALABAMA: vs. Troy (Tuesday); vs. LSU (Weekend)

RANKINGS

Baseball America Collegiate Baseball USA Today/ESPN
LSU

2

4

4

Georgia

8

5

3

Arkansas

12

1

9

Ole Miss

14

15

17

Florida

--

22

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