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An SEC Baseball Weekend Recap: February 14-16

Opening weekend has come and it has gone. Here is where the teams of the SEC stand after the first round of games.

College World Series - Michigan v Vanderbilt - Game Three Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE

Series Result:
W vs. Northeastern 10-0
W vs. Northeastern 8-0
W vs. Northeastern 6-3

The Tide swept their competition in convincing fashion, giving up just three runs over the weekend against Northeastern. Brad Bohannon is in his third year as head coach and this team has gotten better over the first two years. Connor Prielipp and Connor Shamblin had scoreless first starts, and freshman Antoine Jean gave up two earned over four innings in his first collegiate start. The Tide’s pitching Rolled (get it?) through the weekend with a 0.67 ERA and just a .144 BAA. Offensively, freshman Owen Diodati headed the attack with a .667 average and three home runs, and that’s about as good of a start to a college career as you can have. Tyler Gentry pitched in with a .455 average and Brett Auerbach pitched in with a home run himself. The Tide play two midweek games against Troy and Alabama State before heading to UNLV over the weekend.

— Erik Mauro

ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS

Series Result:
W vs. Eastern Illinois 5-1
W vs. Eastern Illinois 10-1
W vs. Eastern Illinois 12-3

Not much went wrong for the Top 10-ranked Razorbacks on opening weekend in Fayetteville. The Arkansas offense put up 27 runs over a three-game sweep vs. Eastern Illinois, setting the tone for what could be another special season for the Diamond Hogs. Dave van Horn got two very promising starts from Connor Noland and Patrick Wicklander on Friday and Saturday respectively, each going at least five innings and striking out a combined 18 Panther batters. Heston Kjerstad moved the load offensively for the Hogs, going 7 for 12 at the plate with four home runs.

— Chris Turner

AUBURN TIGERS

Series Result:
W vs. UIC 5-3
W vs. UIC 18-1
W vs. UIC 7-3
W vs. UIC 14-0

The Auburn Tigers opened their season with a four-game sweep over UIC at home over the weekend. Friday’s 5-3 win saw a stellar pitching performance from Tanner Burns and Cody Greenhill, who combined to strike out 13 hitters en route to Auburn’s 10th straight opening day victory. Saturday saw a doubleheader on the docket, and Auburn surely didn’t disappoint their fans in the first game, cruising to an 18-1 victory. The game was highlighted by outfielder Judd Ward hitting for the cycle, the first time an Auburn player has done such since 2005. The second game of the doubleheader was more of the same for the Tigers, as they scored four runs in the first inning and held the lead throughout en route to a 7-3 victory. Sunday’s series finale was abbreviated for Auburn, as they scored 11 runs in the fourth inning and won 14-0 in seven innings thanks to the run rule. Eight different players drove in at least one run, and Garrett Farquhar led the way with four RBI.

Robert O’Neill

FLORIDA GATORS

Series Result:
W vs. Marshall 9-2
W vs. Marshall 10-0
W vs. Marshall 15-8

The Gators looked like a Kevin O’Sullivan team this weekend. They crushed the ball, pitched well, and simply just overpowered their opponents. Florida is now ranked #2 in the country after the sweep. Jack Leftwich pitched six scoreless innings in his first start, and Tommy Mace gave up two runs over six innings. Nick Pogue got hit around pretty well though, giving up five runs over two innings. Pogue was very good out of the bullpen and a spot starter next well, and his role will be something to watch over the next few weeks. The Gators scored 34 runs over three games and smashed seven home runs. Cory Acton, Jud Fabian, Austin Langworthy, Josh Rivera, and Kris Armstrong all cranked one, and Brady Smith launched the other two. This week the Gators have a home-and-home against Jacksonville, before headlining the weekend with a series against #1 Miami. The annual showdown is in Coral Gables this year.

— Erik Mauro

GEORGIA BULLDOGS

Series Result:
W vs. Richmond 7-6
W vs. Richmond 9-3
W vs. Richmond 5-4

It didn’t come easy, but Georgia capped off a sweep of the visiting Richmond Spiders with a 5-4 win Sunday afternoon in Athens. The Bulldogs had to come from behind twice in the three-game set to pull off victories, opening the season with a walk-off single from Corey Tate to knock off the Spiders on Friday. After a more comfortable win Saturday, Georgia was down 4-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning. The Bulldogs climbed back to tie the game, before a Ben Anderson double gave Georgia its first lead of the day. Redshirt Junior Tucker Bradley led the UGA offense with a 6 for 10 performance at the dish.

— Chris Turner

KENTUCKY WILDCATS

Series Result:
L vs. TCU 5-1
L vs. TCU 7-1
L vs. TCU 10-5

Kentucky didn’t get off to the start they wanted to at all, as they were swept by the touted TCU Horned Frogs of the Big 12. Apart from their five-run performance on Sunday, the Wildcats were held down by the Horned Frogs pitching staff for a majority of the weekend. They scraped together just 19 hits in the series, while TCU was able to break through with 25. TCU’s Charles King held UK down for six scoreless innings on Saturday, allowing just three hits and no earned runs. He was not the pitcher of record though, as he left the game in a 1-1 tie before the Horned Frogs broke the dam. Gray Rodgers torched UK with a .545 average in the series, with three XBH including a homer.

— Chris Novak

LSU TIGERS

Series Result:
W vs. Indiana 8-1
W vs. Indiana 7-4
L vs. Indiana 7-2

LSU opened the season with a bang, picking up a series victory over Indiana in Baton Rouge. Friday’s opener saw Ed Orgeron throw out the first pitch, and the Tigers followed with excitement of their own, as Cade Doughty and Saul Garza each hit home runs as LSU cruised to an 8-1 victory. Starting pitcher Cole Henry was on point, recording eight strikeouts in four innings pitched. Saturday’s doubleheader saw LSU pick up a 7-4 victory in the first game behind a 3 RBI day from Alex Milazzo, but fall 7-2 in the second game. LSU had gotten Indiana’s lead down to 3-1 entering the eighth inning, but the Tigers allowed four runs over the course of the final two frames to lose 7-2.

— Robert O’Neill

MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS

Series Result:

W vs. Wright State 9-6
W vs. Wright State 6-2
W vs. Wright State 5-1

The Bulldogs completed a three-game sweep over Wright State to get their season started on the right foot. Friday’s opener was a bit of a wacky game, as 15 total runs were scored in the 9-6 Mississippi State victory. After jumping out to a 2-0 lead, but Bulldogs gave up five unanswered runs to put Wright State up 5-2. MSU powered back with six runs in the sixth inning to go up 9-5. Wright State scored a run in the ninth, but Jared Shemper worked out of a bases loaded jam to record the save and seal the victory for the Bulldogs. The second and third games were far less dramatic, as MSU led throughout and won 6-2 and 5-1, respectively. Kamren James and Rowdey Jordan both went 5-11 in the series, combining for 7 RBI.

— Robert O’Neill

MISSOURI TIGERS

Series Result:
W vs. Jacksonville St 10-4
W vs. Jacksonville St 6-4 (12 inn.)
L vs. Jacksonville St 9-8

The Road to Omaha doesn’t exist for the Missouri Tigers this year. The NCAA passing down its rejection of the university’s appeal on numerous Level I violations last November confirmed that. Still, Steve Bieser’s club hopes to build on the progress they’ve made in the last three seasons. The Tigers went down to Jacksonville, Alabama to begin the 2020 campaign, and took two of three games from the defending OVC Champion Jacksonville State Gamecocks. Mizzou saw consistent production offensively, with six starters hitting .300 or better on opening weekend.

— Chris Turner

OLE MISS REBELS

Series Result:
L vs. Louisville 7-2
W vs. Louisville 8-6
W vs. Louisville 7-6

Few SEC teams made as loud of a statement as Ole Miss did last weekend. After dropping the opening game against a top-ranked Louisville squad, the Rebels stormed back to win on Saturday and Sunday to clinch the opening series of the year. Both games were tightly fought, with newcomer Cael Baker shining brightest for the Ole Miss offense. The SEC co-Player of the Week behind a 5 for 12 performance, with two home runs coming Saturday against the Cardinals.

— Chris Turner

SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS

Series Result:
W vs. Holy Cross 10-0
W vs. Holy Cross 9-4
W vs. Holy Cross 5-0

South Carolina dusted up the Holy Cross Crusaders this weekend, earning a three-game sweep to start the season. The Gamecocks and Crusaders were separated by just four hits, but errors really plagued Holy Cross in the first two games. They committed a whopping nine of them in the first two games, with five occurring in the second game alone. Braylen Wimmer starred at the plate with a .444 average. Andrew Eyster wasn’t too far behind him though, as he clubbed two home runs in the series, as did Wes Clarke. Bryant Bowen also hit a home run in the series, as SC certainly showed their muscle. Brett Kerry was tagged for three runs in five innings of work on Saturday, but also struck out 12 Crusaders along the way. So, take the good, take the bad there.

— Chris Novak

TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS

Series Result:
W vs. Western Illinois 3-0
W vs. Western Illinois 19-0
W vs. Western Illinois 23-4

Hey, Western Illinois scored four runs one game! Last season, the Vols started the season with five straight shutouts, but couldn’t quite replicate that streak this year. However, Western Illinois scored more runs in that one game than the Vols gave up in five games last year. The competition for the ace of this staff could be between Chad Dallas or Chase Wallace, both pitching shutouts in their first starts of the season. Jackson Leath started on Sunday, and despite giving three runs in 4 1/3 innings, he struck out 12 batters. A staple of Tony Vitello’s teams is good pitching, and through three games that unit looks to be dynamite again. Offensively Zach Daniels led the way hitting .500 with one home run. Max Ferguson and Jake Rucker also chipped in dingers, and Austin Knight mashed two of them. The Vols are in action next against Charlotte on Tuesday before heading to the Round Rock classic over the weekend to face some stiff competition against Texas Tech, Houston, and Stanford.

Erik Mauro

TEXAS A&M AGGIES

Series Result:
W vs. Miami (OH) 17-1
W vs. Miami (OH) 9-2
W vs. Miami (OH) 6-2

Texas A&M made quick work of the Miami (OH) RedHawks this weekend, netting a three-game sweep. The 17-1 win over the RedHawks was among the most dominant performances by an SEC team this weekend. Asa Lacy was terrific on the mound in that one, going six innings, allowing just three hits with eight strikeouts. Christian Roa may have outdone him though on Saturday, as Roa went six innings and struck out 12 RedHawks along the way. Chandler Jozwiak was also great, striking out seven in six innings and allowing no earned runs and one hit. Zach Deloach was outstanding at the plate, earning a ridiculous 14 total bases and seven hits in nine at-bats, with four walks along the way.

— Chris Novak

VANDERBILT COMMODORES

Series Result:
L vs. Michigan 4-3
W vs. UConn 6-1
L vs. Cal Poly 9-8

It was a shockingly bad weekend for the defending National Champions. In a rematch of last year’s CWS Finals, the Michigan Wolverines stunned the ‘Dores late with a late-inning home run off closer Tyler Brown. Vandy would beat UCONN and then lose a stunner to Cal Poly, once again with Brown giving up the late lead. Against the Mustangs, Vandy was down 7-2 and fought back to take a lead 8-7 in the top of the ninth, but it was all for naught. On a more positive note, Kumar Rocker and Mason Hickman did their thing, pitching scoreless starts. Offensively, CJ Rodriguez hit .500 over the weekend and Harrison Ray was the only Commodore to hit one over the wall. Vandy faces South Alabama in a two-game midweek series before the defending Horizon League Tournament Champions, Illinois-Chicago Flames visit for the weekend.

— Erik Mauro