By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Auburn and Alabama Week 6 Review
A year after being swept by the Crimson Tide, Auburn returned the favor in resounding fashion this past weekend in Tuscaloosa. The Tigers had been struggling at the plate entering the series but poured it on during the sweep. Auburn won the first game, 19-5, scoring 16 of those runs in a three-inning stretch. In the second game, Auburn won, 5-0, behind seven shutout innings from freshman pitcher Tanner Burns, who struck out seven and gave up only four hits in the win. The Tigers won the series finale, 20-5, scoring 11 of those runs in the eighth inning. Auburn improved to 29-12 overall and 9-9 in conference play. Alabama dropped to 22-20 and 5-13 in the SEC. The Tigers travel to Gainesville to take on No. 1 Florida this weekend (April 26-28), while the Tide travels to take on Arkansas (April 27-29).
SEC baseball rankings
1. Florida (34-9, 14-4)
2. Ole Miss (32-10, 10-8)
3. Arkansas (29-13, 10-8)
4. Vanderbilt (24-16, 10-8)
5. LSU (25-17, 9-9)
6. Kentucky (27-14, 8-10)
7. Georgia (27-13, 10-8)
8. Auburn (30-12, 9-9)
9. Texas A&M (30-11, 9-9)
10. Missouri (28-13, 8-10)
11. South Carolina (24-17, 9-9)
12. Mississippi State (23-19, 8-10)
13. Tennessee (24-19, 7-11)
14. Alabama (23-20, 5-13)
Week 7 previews and predictions
Series of the Week: LSU at Ole Miss. The friendly confines of Swayze Field helped the Rebels get back on track as they took two of three from Georgia and they moved into a tie for first place in the SEC West Division with Arkansas. This weekend’s series will be pivotal for both squads, as they can surpass Ole Miss in the West if they win the series. Each team is capable of making it to the College World Series, and these two rivals rarely disappoint when they meet on the diamond. Series Prediction: Ole Miss 2, LSU 1.
Auburn at Florida. The Tigers have won their last two series, though those victories did come against the weakest two teams in the SEC West in Alabama and Mississippi State. Auburn improved and finally started hitting the ball well against the Tide, however, and the Tigers will need their bats to be alive and well as they visit the defending national champs. Florida once again is the team to beat in college baseball, and the Gators have been especially impressive at home. Auburn will need a gem from starting pitcher Casey Mize in the opener and also likely require several runs in each game to pull off any upsets on the road. Series Prediction: Florida 2, Auburn 1.
Tennessee at Georgia. The Volunteers kept their postseason hopes alive by winning their series against Texas A&M last weekend but need to keep adding wins if they want to end their NCAA Tournament drought. Georgia was able to win one game on the road at Ole Miss and currently is tied for second in the SEC East Division along with Vanderbilt. The Bulldogs will almost certainly be in the NCAA Tournament and could even host a regional depending on how they finish the season. Series Prediction: Georgia 2, Tennessee 1.
Alabama at Arkansas. Arkansas has been one of the best teams both in the SEC and in the country for most of this season, which made last weekend’s results at Mississippi State even more surprising. The Hogs were swept by the Bulldogs, and in the process were caught by Ole Miss in the SEC West. To make matters worse, Auburn, Texas A&M and LSU are only one game back in the division. Arkansas welcomes in a struggling Alabama team to Fayetteville this weekend and cannot afford to squander an opportunity for a much-needed sweep over the Crimson Tide. Series Prediction: Arkansas 3, Alabama 0.
South Carolina at Vanderbilt. The Gamecocks are back in the mix for an NCAA Tournament berth after taking two of three games against LSU and have a chance this weekend to earn wins against an SEC foe. Vanderbilt had a disappointing series against Missouri, but the Commodores remain in good shape for the postseason and have the potential to make a run. Series Prediction: Vanderbilt 2, South Carolina 1.
Texas A&M at Mississippi State. The Bulldogs had been struggling all season and looked destined to miss both the NCAA and SEC tournaments, but last weekend’s sweep over Arkansas gave them new life. If Mississippi State can win the series against Texas A&M, they’ll inch closer to .500 in league play and create separation from Alabama at the bottom of the SEC West. The Aggies surprisingly lost last weekend’s series at Tennessee and must regroup and win the road series at Mississippi State. Series Prediction: Texas A&M 2, Mississippi State 1.
Missouri at Kentucky. Kentucky held its own at No. 1 Florida last weekend as the Wildcats won the series finale. UK returns home to take on a Missouri team fresh off of an impressive series win against Vanderbilt. Neither the Tigers nor the Wildcats are locks to make the SEC Tournament as of now, so it’s imperative for both teams to have impressive showings this weekend. Series Prediction: Kentucky 2, Missouri 1.