In & around SEC baseball

By Cole FrederickBy Cole Frederick

Alabama

Ole Miss swept Alabama over the weekend in Oxford. The Crimson Tide fell to 22-16 overall and 8-7 in league play. Head coach Mitch Gaspard’s team lost the series finale, 4-3, in extra innings. Alabama struggled to hit the ball all weekend, and the Rebels took advantage of the Crimson Tide’s mishaps. Alabama faces LSU this weekend in Tuscaloosa in a crucial series for the Crimson Tide.

Auburn

Head coach John Pawlowski’s Tigers defeated Georgia over the weekend, and Auburn has now won four of its last six SEC games. The Tigers took two out of three games from the Bulldogs to improve to 22-14 overall and 5-10 in conference play. If the season ended today, Auburn would be one of the last two teams to make the SEC tournament. (Note: in baseball, only 12 of the 14 teams make the conference tournament). The Tigers travel to Starkville this weekend to take on Mississippi State.

SEC baseball rankings
 1. LSU (34-3, 13-2)
 2. Vanderbilt (33-4, 14-1)
 3. Arkansas (25-12, 9-6)
 4. Mississippi State (30-9, 8-7)
 5. Florida (19-18, 8-7)
 6. South Carolina (27-10, 8-7)
 7. Ole Miss (26-10, 7-8)
 8. Kentucky (24-11, 7-8)
 9. Alabama (22-16, 8-7)
 10. Texas A&M (21-16, 6-9)
 11. Auburn (22-14, 5-10)
 12. Tennessee (16-18, 5-10)
 13. Missouri (12-20, 4-11)
 14. Georgia (13-24, 3-12)

Previews and Predictions
Thursday, April 18 – Sunday, April 21

    
Auburn at Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs picked up their 30th win over the weekend as they swept Texas A&M in College Station. Mississippi State currently is one game over .500 in SEC play and is tied for third in the SEC West. After a slow start in league play, Auburn has gained momentum the last two weeks. The Tigers are last in the SEC West, so this series in Starkville is huge for their postseason chances. Series prediction: Mississippi State 2, Auburn 1.

Florida at Missouri. After struggling throughout the early parts of the season, Florida seemingly righted its ship last weekend. The Gators swept South Carolina and are currently 8-7 in conference play. Missouri is having a disappointing year in its inaugural SEC season and are in jeopardy of missing the conference tournament. Series prediction: Florida 3, Missouri 0.
    
LSU at Alabama. The Tigers enter this series boasting the best record in the SEC West, and right now they are among the best teams in the country. After being swept by Ole Miss, the Crimson Tide desperately need to upset the Tigers at least one game this weekend. If not, Alabama’s seeding for the conference tournament will suffer mightily. Series prediction: LSU 3, Alabama 0.
    
Vanderbilt at Georgia. This is a battle between first and worst in the SEC. The Commodores have been dominant in league play, while the Bulldogs have been horrendous. Vandy should be able to cushion its SEC East lead this weekend in Athens. Series prediction: Vanderbilt 3, Georgia 0.

Texas A&M at Arkansas. The Razorbacks nearly knocked off rival LSU last weekend but fell in the third game, 5-3, in extra innings. Arkansas currently is second in the SEC West. The Aggies have lost eight of their last nine conference games and are only one game out of last place in the SEC West. Texas A&M needs at least one game in this series. Series prediction: Arkansas 2, Texas A&M 1.

Ole Miss at Tennessee. The Rebels picked up a much-needed sweep over Alabama last weekend. Although they currently are fifth in the SEC West, the Rebs have a chance to gain ground this weekend. The Vols have struggled all season but they did upset rival Kentucky twice last weekend. Despite Tennessee’s record, this will not be an easy series for Ole Miss. Series prediction: Ole Miss 2, Tennessee 1.

Series of the Week

Kentucky at South Carolina. Both the Wildcats and Gamecocks suffered disappointing losses last weekend, so this matchup is crucial for each team. Kentucky’s losses to Tennessee were the most surprising, given the Vols’ struggles this season. South Carolina was swept by Florida, but the Gators are an extremely talented team that has simply underachieved. The Gamecocks have been to the College World Series three straight years, but this team does not look like it is capable of making a run unless it starts playing better over the next few weeks. The winner of this series has a solid chance of finishing second in the SEC East. Series prediction: South Carolina 2, Kentucky 1.

   

 
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