Our first Around the Bases of the season finds us in the second week (sorry about that) of an unusual SEC season. The top of the SEC West is currently a mess. South Carolina and Florida are also part of a three-team tie -- but for fourth in the SEC East, not first.
|SEC EAST||SEC WEST|
Take a lot of this with a grain of salt -- for example, South Carolina started 1-5 last year before winning the East. So no one is in firm control of either division at this point, and no one is out of things -- well, except for Georgia and Auburn. They're done.
|Texas A&M at Ole Miss
|Ole Miss 8, Texas A&M 2||Texas A&M 2, Ole Miss 1 (7)||Texas A&M 10, Ole Miss 6 (7)|
Um, guys, these Aggies play some pretty good baseball. They won the second half of a Sunday double-header in most unconventional fashion -- two A&M pitchers combined to throw the first inning and allowed five runs before TAMU came storming back -- but the series win in Oxford gives one of the SEC's two new teams a legitimate series victory to go along with the gimme sweep against Georgia. Needless to say, the late Sunday meltdown by the Ole Miss pitching staff was ill-timed and cost the Rebels the series; otherwise, they pitched pretty well.
NEXT FOR TEXAS A&M: UT-Arlington (Tuesday); at South Carolina (Weekend, Thurs.-Sat.)
NEXT FOR OLE MISS: Arkansas State (Wednesday); at Florida (Weekend)
|Florida at Vanderbilt|
|Florida 7, Vanderbilt 1||Vanderbilt 6, Florida 1||Vanderbilt 5, Florida 4|
One player who personifies the issues Florida is having this season is Jonathon Crawford, who has gone from pitching a no-hitter in the NCAA tournament to starting out this season 0-4. Crawford's ERA has ballooned by 2.5 runs a game, from 3.13 last year to 5.67 this season. That led to the Saturday loss for Florida, which actually played pretty well given how the Gators' season has gone so far. One could point out that the Commodores did their pitchers no favors in Game 1 by only scoring the one run and contributing three errors, preventing the sweep, but the fact is that the Gators scored 12 runs on the weekend against one of the best pitching staffs in the league.
NEXT FOR FLORIDA: vs. Florida State (Jacksonville) (Tuesday); Ole Miss (Weekend)
NEXT FOR VANDERBILT: Lipscomb (Tuesday); Tennessee (Weekend)
|Mississippi State at Kentucky
|Mississippi State 8, Kentucky 4||Kentucky 4, Mississippi State 3||Kentucky 3, Mississippi State 2|
If you like crisply played baseball games, then I hope you missed the Friday game in this series. There were 21 hits -- which is good for the offenses but notsomuch for the pitching staffs -- five errors and seven walks. But the series continued to answer one of the criticisms you had to wonder about at the beginning of the season -- the question of whether the Wildcats were for real in 2012 or a fluke. So far, they're making another run at the SEC East in part by edging a decent Mississippi State team in this series. Walkoff wins of the type that the 'Cats got in the second game played on Saturday don't hurt. (The series was cut to two days because of weather; Kentucky's two Saturday starters -- Jerad Grundy and Corey Littrell -- pitched a combined 15 innings for a combined three earned runs.)
NEXT FOR MISSISSIPPI STATE: Austin Peay (Tuesday); at Arkansas (Weekend)
NEXT FOR KENTUCKY: Marshall (Tuesday); Georgia (Weekend)
|Alabama at Georgia
|Alabama 6, Georgia 3||Alabama 6, Georgia 3||Alabama 3, Georgia 0|
And we have an answer to one of the other questions that might have been hanging around after last season: David Perno should be fired. Don't get me wrong; as a fan of another SEC East team, I'm perfectly fine to see Perno hang around in Athens for another season or five. As for Alabama -- I don't ever trust the Tide until at least April, but starting with one loss in the first two series is certainly worthy of some attention. The opponents were Georgia and Tennessee, though, so let's not go crazy here. What might drive you crazy if you were Perno is that the pitchers were not terrible for Georgia this weekend -- the Friday and Saturday games each featured at least two unearned Alabama runs due to a combined five Georgia errors -- but the games still got away.
NEXT FOR ALABAMA: at UAB (Tuesday); at Auburn (Weekend, Thurs.-Sat.)
NEXT FOR GEORGIA: Clemson (Tuesday); at Clemson (Wednesday); at Kentucky (Weekend)
|Auburn at LSU|
|LSU 9, Auburn 4||LSU 5, Auburn 1||LSU 8, Auburn 2|
LSU offense > Auburn pitching. That's probably the simplest way to sum up this weekend, but the lopsided margins are a little bit deceptive. LSU only outhit Auburn 34-28 on the weekend, and that was after the Bayou Bengals outhit the other Tigers 13-6 on Sunday. Then again, LSU never trailed all weekend long, so you can make the case that Auburn was never really in the series. And Auburn has never really been in the SEC West race; an 0-6 record is probably insurmountable at this point given how many good teams are as far ahead of Auburn as they are right now, so the Plainsmen are just fighting for a berth in the SEC tournament. On the flip side, LSU is red-hot right now, having lost just two games all season.
NEXT FOR AUBURN: at Troy (Tuesday); Alabama (Weekend, Thurs.-Sat.)
NEXT FOR LSU: at Tulane (Tuesday); at Missouri (Weekend)
|Arkansas at South Carolina
|Arkansas 15, South Carolina 3||Arkansas 4, South Carolina 2||Arkansas 5, South Carolina 3 (11)|
Before this weekend, the storylines about these teams were that Arkansas was unimpressive after being a preseason front-runner for the national title and South Carolina on track for a fourth straight trip to Omaha. What a difference a weekend sweep makes. The Gamecocks' train to Nebraska is suddenly in danger of running off the rails, and the Hogs look every bit the title contender they were supposed to be. Friday's outburst included a nine-run fourth inning. So we'll just go to the box score on that one:
Spoon, T. singled to right center. Anderson, B. singled up the middle; Spoon, T. advanced to second. Vinson, M. singled, bunt; Anderson, B. advanced to second; Spoon, T. advanced to third. Ficociello, D struck out swinging. Schwanke, W. walked, RBI; Vinson, M. advanced to second; Anderson, B. advanced to third; Spoon, T. scored. Wise, J. walked, RBI; Schwanke, W. advanced to second; Vinson, M. advanced to third; Anderson, B. scored. Morris, J. doubled to left center, 2 RBI; Wise, J. advanced to third; Schwanke, W. scored; Vinson, M. scored. Mahan, J. walked. Mahan, J. advanced to second; Morris, J. advanced to third; Wise, J. scored on a wild pitch. Serrano, J. grounded out to ss. Spoon, T. singled to left field, advanced to second on the throw, 2 RBI; Mahan, J. scored; Morris, J. scored. Koumas to p for Beal. Anderson, B. homered to left field, 2 RBI; Spoon, T. scored. Vinson, M. flied out to lf
That was followed up by a five-run seventh. You're never quite as good as you look when you're winning nor quite as bad as you look when you're losing -- nothing proved that more than the outcome of this series -- but the fact of the matter is that South Carolina is tied with Florida and Missouri in the SEC East right now, pretty amazing when you consider where those teams were a couple of weeks ago.
NEXT FOR ARKANSAS: Mississippi Valley State (Fayetteville, Tuesday; N. Little Rock, Wednesday); Mississippi State (Weekend)
NEXT FOR SOUTH CAROLINA: at College of Charleston (Tuesday); Texas A&M (Weekend, Thurs.-Sat.)
|Missouri at Tennessee
|Tennessee 4, Missouri 0||Tennessee 7, Missouri 6||Missouri 14, Tennessee 6|
In a little bit more than 24 hours Friday and Saturday, Tennessee pitched a shutout, won on a walkoff hit and lost in a blowout. Zack Godley pitched the shutout, scattering five hits and five walks over nine innings while striking out nine. Pierce Bily was the hero in the first game of the Saturday double-header, coming through with an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth for the inning's second run and the game winner. Then, the first three Tennessee pitchers in the second Saturday game combined to allow 15 hits while beaning five batters. That generally is not a recipe for success.
NEXT FOR ARKANSAS: Nebraska-Omaha (Tuesday); LSU (Weekend)
NEXT FOR TENNESSEE: Tennessee Tech (Tuesday); at Vanderbilt (Weekend)