The first weekend of action on the diamond is in the books for the Southeastern Conference. Yes, baseball is finally back in full swing after its long dormancy during the fall and winter. But fear not, as from here on out until the summertime, we’ll be seeing SEC baseball all the time. Here’s how the first weekend shook out.
The Kentucky Wildcats finished their first weekend with a perfect 4-0 record. UK showed out with a 6-1 victory over Wofford on Friday, followed by a doubleheader sweep of USC Upstate and then a win over Evansville. By the time the Wildcats ended the weekend, they finished with a run differential of +17, and scored at least six runs in each of their victories. Tristan Pompey had an outstanding weekend, as the UK leftfielder is now hitting .471 with an OPS of 1.374.
The reigning SEC and National Champions got off to a hot start, with a 3-0 record after this weekend’s games. UF handily swept Siena, finishing with a run differential of 36-5. Yes, you read that right: 36-5. A 19-2 result on Sunday played into this, as well as a 10-2 one on Saturday. Safe to say that the Gators offense is already rolling in February. Nelson Maldonado may have been the top performer. Maldonado hit .600 in the series against Siena with two doubles and an OPS of a whopping 1.436.
Mighty Arkansas was one of five teams in the SEC West to have a perfect weekend. The Hogs steamrolled Bucknell and, at times, it didn’t really seem fair. Including their ridiculous 32-4 win (THIRTY TWO TO FOUR) on Saturday. We’d imagine that their run differential of +42 will probably remain tops in the conference for some time. Anywho, Hjeston Kjerstad both hit over .600 in the series while Jax Biggers hit .444. Not too shabby. Carson Shaddy also hit .571 and has a team-best 1.571 SLG right now.
Auburn barreled through Longwood, clinching a sweep of their opening series with ease. The Tigers outscored Longwood 34-1, including a 25-1 result on Saturday. The top performer was likely Will Holland, as Holland went 7-14 at the plate with a home run, two doubles and 12 total bases. He finished the weekend with an OPS of 1.357.
Texas A&M Aggies
Texas A&M had a competitive series against URI, but ultimately prevailed with a sweep of the Rams. The Aggies defeated URI 4-1 and 4-3 on Saturday and Sunday, and then completed the sweep with a 10-2 result on Sunday. A bit more modest compared to their peers, huh? Leading the way over the weekend at the plate were Zach DeLoach and Michael Helman. DeLoach went 7-15 at the dish with 13 total bases, a double, a triple and a home run. Helman, meanwhile, went 5-11 with four RBI and 11 total bases and slugged 1.000.
Alabama Crimson Tide
The Alabama Crimson Tide had a close call on Saturday against Valparaiso, but still came away with a sweep when all was done and dusted. The Tide won 16-2 and 12-6 on Friday and Sunday to help seal their successful weekend up. Avant Chandler came away with a big weekend, hitting a team-high .462 with two doubles, six hits and eight total bases. He also slugged .615 and had an OBP of .588.
Ole Miss Rebels
Ole Miss’ opening weekend was a success, as the Rebels swept the Winthrop Eagles. The Rebs held the Eagles to just five runs scored over the weekend including back-to-back efforts where they allowed only one run. Ryan Olenek and Grae Kessinger were both stout in the series. Olenek hit .333 in nine at-bats while Kessinger went 4-13 with five total bases. Ryan Rollson had a 12-strikeout effort to help earn his first victory of the season.
South Carolina Gamecocks
All four teams who finished 2-1 were from the East, and South Carolina was one of the four. The Gamecocks’ first series went well despite them losing to VMI in the first game. They followed that up with a 7-2 win on Saturday and 9-0 victory on Sunday. Madison Stokes was the star of the weekend, as Stokes went 5-9 at the plate with three doubles, two home runs and 14 total bases. Hunter Taylor, Jacob Olson, Chris Cullen and Justin Row all went deep as well in the series.
Mizzou started the season off with two wins over FIU before dropping the third game to the Panthers. The Tigers won 3-1 on Friday and then 22-1 on Saturday, and then fell 11-5 in the series finale. Trevor Sikkema allowed only one run through five innings and struck out seven of the 20 batters he faced on Friday. In the 22-1 blowout, Kameron Misner went 3-5 with four runs scored and five RBI.
Vanderbilt had a back-and-forth series against the Duke Blue Devils. Vandy won on Friday 9-1 over the Blue Devils, but then fell 5-4 on Saturday. The rubber match went exactly like the one on Friday, as the Commodores picked up another 9-1 win. Pat DeMarco was excellent, going .615 at the plate while Stephen Scott slugged .917 after hitting two doubles and a home run while going 6-12 at the plate.
Georgia won their first series of the year over in-state foe Georgia Southern. The Bulldogs took two of three, falling on Saturday, but proceeded to win 22-9 on Friday and 4-3 on Sunday. The Sunday victory was a dramatic one as it came via a walk-off, as they scored on a walk to tie the game and a sac fly by Cam Shepherd to win it.
LSU opened the year with a 7-6 victory over Notre Dame. However, the Fighting Irish retaliated with 10-5 and 11-3 wins to down the Tigers to a 1-2 record on opening weekend. LSU’s early struggles set them back a bit, but there’s still pretty clearly a good chunk of talent here. Beau Jordan was outstanding in the series, going 4-8 with two homers and two doubles and 12 total bases. Bryce Jordan and Josh Smith also delivered boomsticks during the series.
Tennessee avoided a sweep at the hands of the Maryland Terrapins by winning the back half of their Sunday doubleheader with the Terps. They were originally set for a game on Saturday, but it was postponed. They lost 4-0 and 10-4 to the Terps but responded with a 13-6 victory on Sunday evening. Benito Santiago stood out, as Santiago went .462 over the weekend with 12 total bases, three doubles and a homer. Andre Lipcius and Jay Charleston also racked up dingers, with Charleston slamming two of his own.
WELL, THAT’S AWKWARD
Mississippi State Bulldogs
The only winless team after opening weekend resides in Starkville. The Mississippi State Bulldogs went 0-3 against Southern Miss. This included an 11-0 shutout loss on Friday in Hattiesburg as well as a 7-4 and 5-2 loss on Friday and Saturday. Life on the road certainly didn’t prove easy for them, so they will have to hope for more success after this.