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SEC Baseball Opening Weekend Recap

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The 2016 SEC baseball season started on Friday and 13 of the teams won their weekend series with seven squads sweeping their non conference opponents.

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Alabama (2-1) opened the renovated Sewell-Thomas Stadium with a series win over Maryland. After hosting 2015's home games in Hoover, the $43 million dollar renovation hosted a sellout in each of the Friday and Saturday games. They were split by the Crimson Tide and Terrapins before the Tide closed out the series with a 5-1 win on Sunday. In the pair of wins, the Tide yielded only two runs, but gave up nine runs in Saturday's loss as starter Jake Walters only lasted 3.2 innings while giving up five earned runs. Thomas Burrows picked up a pair of saves in the Alabama wins.


Auburn (1-2) was the lone SEC team not to win their opening season series as the Tigers lost the final two games of their home series against Sacramento State. The Butch Thompson era started with a 10-5 win on Friday, but the final two games were a pair of one run losses including a 7-6 defeat in 12 innings on Sunday. Lead off hitter and center fielder Anfernee Grier sparked the Tigers throughout the weekend going 6/13 with six runs scored, three walks (for an OBP of .562) and three stolen bases while junior college transfer Niko Buentello knocked in 10 rbi and had a pair of home runs.


Arkansas (3-0) came from behind on Sunday to sweep Central Michigan. The Razorbacks trailed 3-1 after the fifth inning of the series finale, but scored eight runs in the last three innings of an eight inning (due to the Chippewas' travel) shortened game to clinch the sweep. In Friday's season opener, Dominic Taccolini threw seven innings giving up only a single hit and one earned run. Leadoff hitter Eric Cole set the pace for the Arkansas with a game opening single in each game en route to a 5/10 weekend while also drawing a trio of walks and scoring four times.


Number one Florida (3-0) swept Florida Gulf Coast in Gainesville with Kevin O'Sullivan's squad winning each game by at least two runs. During Saturday's 8-4 win for the Gators, the bottom of the lineup came up big for the host as number eight and nine hitters Deacon Liput and Jonathan India combined for three hits and six RBIs with freshman Liput adding a pair of doubles in Sunday's 12-3 victory. None of Florida's starting pitchers went more than 5.2 innings, but none of them yielded more than a single earned run. Junior AJ Puk gave up four runs in his four innings on Saturday, but all were unearned due to a pair of errors including one by the pitcher.


Georgia (2-1) got seven innings of two hit, one run pitching with seven strikeouts from freshman Kevin Smith on Sunday to take a 2-1 series win over in-state opponent Georgia Southern. The Sunday outing from the freshman wrapped up a strong weekend of starting pitching for the Bulldogs as Robert Tyler turned in five innings of scoreless pitching with only one hit given up while Heath Holder earned a quality start in Saturday's loss. Keegan McGovern led the 'Dogs at the plate as he went 5/12 with a pair of doubles, a home run and four RBIs on the weekend.


Kentucky (2-1) opened their season with a loss to Wofford before earning wins over George Mason and Dayton in Spartanburg, SC. The Wildcats opened the scoring against the Terriers, but Wofford plated five straight runs to build too big a deficit for Kentucky to overcome in the season opener. In Saturday's game against George Mason, the Wildcats held a 4-3 lead entering the ninth inning and appeared to blow the game open with four runs in the top of the ninth to take an 8-3 lead. George Mason responded with three runs in the bottom of the ninth, but Justin Lewis came in to get two outs for Kentucky to earn the save. Tristan Pompey and JaVon Shelby both knocked a pair of homers in Sunday's 15-2 win over Dayton.


LSU (3-0) swept Cincinnati at home to start the 2016 season. Friday night, the Tigers plated a run in each of the eighth and ninth innings to force extra innings before winning in 12th inning thanks to a Jordan Romaro walk-off single. Sophomore Alex Lange posted 6.2 scoreless innings of one hit ball with nine strikeouts in Saturday's 4-0 win to run his career record to 13-0. LSU launched four homers in Sunday's 12-4 win as DH Bryce Adams hit a grand slam and Romaro went 3/4 with a home run and four RBIs. Jake Fraley had a pair of triples on the weekend to go along with a pair of stolen bases.

Mississippi State

Mississippi State (2-2) dropped a pair of games against Florida Atlantic while winning a pair over South Dakota State in Starkville. In the season opener against the Owls, the Bulldogs had 17 hits, but could only manage six runs and lost 10-6. John Cohen's squad played a pair of games on Saturday and had another 17 hits in the early game against the Jackrabbits, but this time capitalized on the baserunners for a 17-4 victory. Between the first two games, the Bulldogs combined for 13 doubles. Jack Kruger led Mississippi State at the plate as he went 9/15 with five doubles, a home run and nine RBIs.


Missouri (2-2) split a four game series with Seton Hall in Fort Meyers, Fla. with the Tigers winning the opening pair of games before losing Saturday's second game and Sunday's finale. Shane Benes led the Tigers on offense with a pair of home runs, five RBIs and a stolen base, but offense was an issue for Missouri as the Tigers only scored nine combined runs in the series' final three games. Reggie McClain was dominant on the mound in Friday's game as the senior pitched eight scoreless innings with four strikeouts while scattering four hits.

Ole Miss

Ole Miss (3-0) swept Florida International with a trio of relatively comfortable victories. After struggling with expectations as a freshman in 2015 and finishing up with a .197 batting average, Tate Blackman opened his sophomore campaign with multiple hits in each game of the series and six RBIs to go along with a pair of doubles. None of the Rebels' starting pitchers lasted longer than 5.0 innings with Brady Bramlett and Sean Johnson going 5.0 while Chad Smith only lasted 3.2 innings on Saturday. Saturday's game was the closest at 7-4, but hitting came through in the clutch as a pair of bases loaded hits plated five runs before Wyatt Short earned the save.

South Carolina

South Carolina (3-0) won their opening three games of the season over Albany. The Great Danes didn't offer much competition as the Gamecocks won the three games by 10-1, 6-2 and 8-1 margins. Albany's only lead on the weekend came in Sunday's series finale as they opened the scoring in the first inning before the Gamecocks tied the game in the fifth inning and plated another seven combined runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Junior college transfer catcher John Jones opened his career in Columbia with a 6/10 weekend with 9 RBIs while Marcus Mooney added a pair of doubles and a pair of stolen bases.


Tennessee (2-1) bookended the series with wins over Memphis at AT&T Field in Chattanooga to open the season on the right foot. Memphis opened an 11-0 lead in Saturday's game with a five run fourth inning and sixth run sixth inning, but Dave Serrano's team tried to fight back. Three runs in each of the sixth and seventh innings offered a spark, but another trio of runs in the Tigers' top of the ninth closed the door on the Volunteers' possibility to win the opening two games of the series. Vincent Jackson and Chris Hall led Tennessee with a team high five hits and four RBIs on the weekend while Jackson homered in Sunday's series clinching win.

Texas A&M

Texas A&M (3-0) scored runs in five of the first six innings of their 5-2 season opening win over Hofstra Friday night as part of the Aggies' sweep. A&M won Saturday's game 15-4 as Hunter Melton hit a pair of homers and a double while Ronnie Gideon hit a grand slam. Gideon added on another homer from his designated hitter position on Sunday and finished the weekend with seven RBIs. JB Moss also had a big weekend with three extra base hits via two triples and a double. Ivey Tyler threw six scoreless innings on Saturday with seven strikeouts while Corbin Martin had nine strikeouts on Saturday but gave up three earned runs in five innings.


Defending national runner-up Vanderbilt (3-0) scored 14 runs in the first three innings of Sunday's series finale en route to a 17-1 win over San Diego to close out the sweep. Ten different Commodores both had hits and scored runs in the final game of the series while a quartet of pitchers held the Toreros hitters in check. Sophomore Jeren Kendall hit a trio of home runs on the weekend to go along with ten hits, ten RBIs, and five stolen bases.