Seven games went down, meaning all 14 teams took the field on Thursday. So, it was pretty busy.
Seventh-ranked Kentucky made waves with a 12-4 victory over fifth-ranked Florida. The two teams jostling at the top of the SEC East duked it out in what turned out to be a laugher in favor of the Wildcats. It didn’t start out that way though, as the Gators carried a 3-0 lead with them up until the top of the fourth. Kentucky’s Tristan Pompey pummeled a ball into the seats for a go-ahead grand slam. After taking the lead, the Wildcats would go on to only build it up further. Eight runs would be tallied across the next four innings, with four of them coming in the seventh frame alone. The win and loss for Kentucky and Florida subsequently puts them in a tie for first in the SEC East.
Meanwhile, LSU took another step towards winning the SEC West with their 3-1 victory over Mississippi State. Despite Brent Rooker’s 2-4 day at the plate and a dinger by Ryan Gridley, State’s offense was held in check by Alex Lange. Lange posted 11 strikeouts over seven innings of work, allowing six hits, the one earned run off the bat of Gridley. Despite five walks, Lange held himself in order and kept State off the scoreboard otherwise. Zach Watson and Josh Smith delivered the goods for LSU, as they were credited with the runs driven in by the Bayou Bengals on Thursday night. The win puts Mississippi State two games back of LSU with two games to play.
But a team that took a stride forward in the West on Thursday night was Arkansas. The Razorbacks improved to 17-10 in conference play with their 6-4 extra innings win over Texas A&M. The Hogs scored two runs in the eighth to take a 4-3 lead over the Aggies, but A&M tied the game in the ninth following a sacrifice fly by Jorge Gutierrez. Chad Spanberger would however put the Hogs up on top and snuff the Aggies out with a two-run, two-out blast in the top of the 10th. The win keeps Arkansas’ hopes of a division title in reach as they’re just a game and a half back of first-place LSU with two games to play.
Missouri picked up a pivotal 5-0 win over Tennessee. T.J. Sikkema tossed a complete game, four-hit shutout in which he struck out seven Volunteers while walking none. Sikkema was backed up by a productive offensive showing in which the Tigers scored at least five runs for the fourth game in a row and the fifth time in their last six outings. While the 1-2 hitters combined to go 0-for-8, the middle of the order (3-6) went 4-14, with the 5 and 6 hitters scoring three combined runs. A grand slam was unloaded off the bat of Matt Berler, as the junior infielder delivered the boom in the top of the fifth. The lone other run of the game was plated in the seventh after a fielder’s choice led to Kameron Misner crossing home.
South Carolina took a hit after losing 6-3 to Georgia. The Bulldogs have undertaken the role of spoiler with flying colors of late as UGA has gone 7-2 in their last nine games. To that point, they’ve taken series from Kentucky and Mississippi State and appear to have the Gamecocks in their crosshairs now. UGA went on to seize control in the second inning. There, after two RBI singles by Adam Sasser and Austin Biggar, Tucker Bradley, the team’s leading hitter, scorched a two-RBI double to prop the ‘Dawgs up 4-0. For the next five innings, South Carolina was held scoreless thanks to stout pitching by Andrew Gist. They’d plate home one run in the eighth, but UGA padded their lead to 6-1 in the ninth. Two runs were brought home by South Carolina in the ninth inning, but their rally would ultimately prove futile.
Vanderbilt picked up the most lopsided win of the night, defeating Alabama 18-1. The Commodores scored five runs in the first inning and never looked back from their. An eight spot was posted in the fourth inning to make matters worse, and after a paltry one-run inning in the fifth, four more were tallied in the seventh frame. Seven different Commodore batters recorded multi-hit games and two of them - Julian Infante and Jeren Kendall - racked up three-hit nights at the plate. Patrick Raby was a bit inefficient, tossing five walks to go with his seven strikeouts, but ‘Bama’s offense was far too meager Thursday night to take advantage.
Auburn was finally able to stop the bleeding, as the Tigers defeated Ole Miss 4-1 in their series opener. The Tigers had previously been mired in a seven-game losing streak that stretched back to May 6. They got back to their winning ways thanks to the play of Jonah Todd, Daniel Robert and Keegan Thompson. Todd and Robert were credited with three of the four runs scored, with Robert’s two coming on a two-run shot in the fourth. Todd had drove in one on a sac groundout the batter before, and the other run came after a fielding error in the second. Thompson pitched six no-hit innings, striking out eight while walking two but did not finish the game. Cole Lipscomb came in and finished the job, allowing only one urn over the next three frames.
There are seven more games on the slate for Friday, May 19th in SEC baseball.
The battle for the SEC East title tightened up on Thursday as Kentucky knocked off Florida in Gainesville in game one of the series. The two teams are now tied atop the division with two games left in the regular season. On Friday, they’ll take the field for game two in Gainesville at 7 p.m. on the SEC Network. The pitching matchup will be between Kentucky’s Zach Logue (6-4, 4.50 ERA) and Florida’s Brady Singer (6-3, 2.58 ERA). This game will go a long way in deciding who will take the SEC East title.
The battle for the SEC West also continues between No. 6 LSU and No. 13 Mississippi State at 7:30 on SEC Network+. The TIgers took down the Bulldogs on Thursday night to move their lead to two games over the Bulldogs with two games to go. If State wins the last two games of the series, they can finish in a tie with LSU for the SEC West title, so long as Arkansas doesn’t jump ahead. The pitching matchup in this one will be between LSU’s Jared Poche (8-3, 3.16 ERA) and State’s Denver McQuary (2-2, 3.89 ERA).
The last ranked-vs.-ranked matchup of the day comes between No. 16 Arkansas and No. 22 Texas A&M. The Razorbacks, with the win last night over the Aggies, moved to within a game and a half behind LSU for first place in the West. The second game of the series will feature a pitching matchup between Arkansas’s Blaine Knight (6-4, 3.50 ERA) and Texas A&M’s Corbin Martin (5-3, 3.12 ERA). You can catch this one on the SEC Network+ at 7:30.
There are four other games on slate for Friday, including Tennessee hosting Missouri and No. 23 Auburn hosting Ole Miss. South Carolina will host Georgia, while Alabama will go on the road to face Vanderbilt. You can catch each of these games on the SEC Network+.