By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Auburn Week 8 Review
For the first tie since 2002, Auburn swept Vanderbilt in a baseball series. It was also the first time the Tigers had won a series over the Commodores since 2009, and they did so in resounding fashion. Casey Mize struck out 15 batters in Auburn’s 4-1 win in the se-ries opener, and the Tigers exploded offensively in the next two games. Auburn won the second game, 11-5, and blanked Vanderbilt 14-0 in the finale. The Tigers improved to 34-14 overall and 13-11 in the SEC. They travel to Oxford this weekend (May 10-12) to take on Ole Miss for a pivotal three-game series in the SEC West Division.
Alabama Week 8 Review
Alabama didn’t win the series over Mississippi State, but the Crimson Tide did win a conference game for the first time in over three weekends. The Bulldogs won the first game, 14-12, in extra innings, but Alabama responded with a 4-3 win in the second game. The Tide had a lead in the series finale, but the Bulldogs made a late comeback and won the game, 6-4. Alabama dropped to 24-25 overall and 6-18 in conference play. UA travels to Baton Route this weekend for a series against LSU.
SEC baseball rankings
1. Florida (38-11, 18-6)
2. Ole Miss (36-13, 13-11)
3. Arkansas (33-15, 14-10)
4. Georgia (33-14, 15-9)
5. Auburn (34-14, 13-11)
6. South Car (28-19, 13-11)
7. Texas A&M (34-14, 12-12)
8. LSU (28-20, 12-12)
9. Vanderbilt (25-22, 11-13)
10. Kentucky (30-17, 11-13)
11. Mississippi State (26-22, 11-13)
12. Tennessee (27-23, 10-14)
13. Missouri (30-18, 9-15)
14. Alabama (24-25, 6-18)
Week 9 Previews and Predictions
Series of the Week: Tex-as A&M at Arkansas. The top of the SEC West is a logjam, and Arkansas only has a one-game advantage over Ole Miss and Auburn. Texas A&M and LSU are only two games behind the Hogs, which should make for a very entertaining and dramatic conclusion to the regular season over the next two weeks. Arkansas can distance itself from the rest of the division with a sweep over the Aggies, but this should be a competitive series that should be decided by only a few runs. Series Prediction: Arkansas 2, Texas A&M 1.
Missouri at South Carolina. A few weeks ago, Missouri looked like a lock for the NCAA Tournament. Now, the Tigers aren’t even a lock to make the SEC Tournament.With two weeks remaining in the regular season, Missouri is in 13th in the conference, which means they would be left out of the SEC Tournament. Missouri is only one game behind Tennessee for the 12th and final spot, but the Tigers are up against a challenging South Carolina team on the road this weekend. It’s an uphill battle for Missouri, but the Tigers have proven throughout the year that they can play with anyone in the league. Series Prediction: South Carolina 2, Missouri 1.
Vanderbilt at Tennessee. The Volunteers are looking to end their long NCAA Tournament drought but still have plenty of work to do as the regular season draws to a close. The first step is making it to the SEC Tournament, and the Vols only have a one-game cushion on Missouri at the moment. They’re catching Vanderbilt at the right time, as the Commodores have struggled in recent weeks, and Tennessee is starting to play solid baseball. A series win over Vandy would certainly help, but the Vols’ postseason chances will come down to the season series finale against Missouri next weekend. Series Prediction: Tennessee 2, Vanderbilt 1.
Alabama at LSU. Alabama’s postseason aspirations are all but finished, and the Tide can only play the role of spoiler for the next two series. Despite a disappointing season, UA can still go on the road and shock LSU by winning the series and ruining the Tigers’ seeding. It has been a less than stellar year for LSU, but this is still a dangerous team capable of making noise in the postseason. Series Prediction: LSU 3, Alabama 0.
Mississippi State at Kentucky. The Wildcats are stumbling towards the finish line but still should be an NCAA Tournament team. Mississippi State still has work to do to reach the postseason, and losing a game to Alabama certainly didn’t help its cause. Neither team is a lock to make the SEC Tournament, either, so this is a very important series for both squads. Series Prediction: Kentucky 2, Mississippi State 1.
Georgia at Florida. It’s a longshot, but Georgia can potentially surpass Florida in the SEC East Division by the end of the regular season. The Gators are nearly impossible to defeat in a home series, so the Bulldogs will have their work cut out for them in Gainesville. Florida is still aiming for the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, and a series win over Georgia will inch the Gators one step closer to achieving that goal. Series Prediction: Florida 2, Georgia 1.
Auburn at Ole Miss. The Tigers and Rebels are only one game behind Arkansas for first place in the SEC West, and the winner of this series could move into first after this weekend. Auburn is playing its best baseball of the season, and the Tigers certainly capable of going on the road and stealing the series against Ole Miss. The Rebels are typically very tough at home, however, and they’ve been one of the best teams in the country all season. Series Prediction: Ole Miss 2, Auburn 1.