By Cole Frederick/Sports Editor
Auburn and Alabama Week 8 Review
For the first time since 2011, Auburn beat Alabama in a series at Plainsman Park. The Tigers won the series finale, 17-7, in an offensive explosion to take the series and improve to 12-12 in the SEC and 29-19 overall. It was a back-and-forth game until the Tigers scored 14 runs on 14 hits in the final three innings. Conor Davis and Will Holland each had three hits in the win for Auburn.
The Tigers won the first game, 5-1, behind five innings from sophomore pitcher Jake Owen, who made his first start since March. In the second game, Alabama led 5-2 before Auburn scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth to take the lead. However, the Crimson Tide scored a pair of runs in the top of the ninth after Joe Breaux hit an RBI single and scored the winning run on a hit by Tyler Ras.
Alabama is now 28-21 on the season, 6-18 in conference play and tied with Kentucky for 12th in the SEC standings with two weeks left in the regular season. UA needs to finish above Kentucky and South Carolina to make the SEC Tournament. Alabama hosts Texas A&M this weekend (May 10-12), while Auburn hosts Georgia.
SEC baseball rankings
1. Vanderbilt (39-9, 18-6)
2. Arkansas (37-12, 17-7)
3. Mississippi State (38-10, 15-9)
4. Georgia (37-12, 16-8)
5. Ole Miss (32-17, 15-9)
6. Texas A&M (32-17-1, 12-11-1)
7. LSU (30-19, 14-10)
8. Auburn (29-19, 12-12)
9. Missouri (33-16-1, 12-11-1)
10. Florida (29-21, 9-15)
11. Tennessee (33-16, 10-14)
12. Kentucky (24-24, 6-18)
13. Alabama (28-21, 6-18)
14. South Carolina (24-23, 5-19)
Week 9 Previews and Predictions
Series of the Week: Mississippi State at Ole Miss. These two bitter rivals might hate each other more in baseball than any other sport. This is a very competitive rivalry each year, and the teams enter this weekend’s series with identical 15-9 records in the conference. The Bulldogs are ranked higher in the polls due to their 39-10 record, but the Rebels arguably have played better in recent weeks. Both squads are locks to make the NCAA Tournament and the winner of this series can improve its tournament seeding. Series Prediction: Ole Miss 2, Mississippi State 1.
Tennessee at Florida. The Gators’ struggles this season are not surprising, considering they lost so much talent off of the last two teams. But UF still has a chance to make the NCAA Tournament. The Gators need quality wins, however, and the opportunities for those wins are running out, as the regular season ends next week. Tennessee has been solid all year. This should be a very even series between two teams separated by only a game in the SEC. Series Prediction: Florida 2, Tennessee 1.
Georgia at Auburn. Auburn has only lost one series at home all season, but this weekend’s matchup against Georgia will be the toughest of the year. The Bulldogs are one of the top teams in the country and one of several SEC teams capable of making a deep postseason run. The Tigers match up well with Georgia overall, especially with the return of pitcher Jake Owen. The emergence of freshman Brody Moore has also boosted the Auburn offense. Series Prediction: Georgia 2, Auburn 1.
Texas A&M at Alabama. Despite its conference record, Alabama has turned a corner under second-year coach Brad Bohannon. The Crimson Tide has been excellent in midweek games this year but that has not translated to success in the SEC. This league is superb top to bottom, and there are no easy wins. Alabama has the chance to make the SEC Tournament, but probably need to win this series against the Aggies to feel confident entering the final week of the season. Series Prediction: Alabama 2, Texas A&M 1.
Kentucky at South Carolina. The winner of this series will greatly improve its chances of making the SEC Tournament, while the loser almost certainly will have its season end next week. It’s been a struggle for both the Wildcats and the Gamecocks this year, but one of these teams will leave Columbia this weekend feeling much more positive about the year overall. Series Prediction: South Carolina 2, Kentucky 1.
LSU at Arkansas. The Razorbacks currently hold a two-game lead in the SEC West Division with six conference games remaining, and have a chance to win the conference outright. Arkansas trails Vanderbilt by one game, but the Hogs face a more challenging schedule down the stretch. LSU isn’t nearly as good as Arkansas this year, but the Tigers are capable of winning a game or two on the road this weekend. Series Prediction: Arkansas 2, LSU 1.
Missouri at Vanderbilt. The Commodores have rolled through opponents in recent weeks while emerging as one of the top teams in all of college baseball. Vanderbilt will enter the postseason as one of the favorites to win the College World Series. Missouri has enjoyed a successful season and they will qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012. The Tigers have not made the tournament since joining the SEC in 2013 but finally turned the corner this season. Series Prediction: Vanderbilt 2, Missouri 1.