Extra innings: SEC baseball turns the page with solid first week
That’s a little more like it. Sure, the competition went down for most teams, but after an opening weekend that was somewhere between tough and brutal, SEC baseball seemed to return to form in the 1st full week of the season — with a few exceptions. Here’s the quick breakdown on the SEC’s 1st full week of action.
Arkansas, Mississippi State playing ho-hum
The Razorbacks had been a little underwhelming in winning 2 of 3 from Illinois State last weekend. The trend continued, with Friday’s 5-2 win over Indiana offset by Sunday’s loss to Stanford, 5-0. They did have a winning weekend after a late rally to a 6-4 win over Louisiana. The rally aside, Arkansas continued to struggling hitting the baseball. Its team batting average is hovering around the Mendoza line. The Razorbacks are going to have to find their hitting stride, or it could be a tough run in the SEC West.
Similarly, Mississippi State dropped a Friday game to Northern Kentucky. Landon Sims was okay, but the expected anchor of the Bulldogs’ rotation shouldn’t be losing to NKU. A 4-3 start isn’t particularly encouraging for the Bulldogs, either.
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Georgia on my mound
The Georgia Bulldogs are 7-0, which might not be surprising, but the early dominance of their pitching staff has been a pleasant surprise. The Bulldogs had a 4-0 week, and they allowed just 3 runs on 16 hits. The 8 1/3 shutout innings of 3-hit ball from Jonathan Cannon in Friday’s 1-0 win over Akron was a particular highlight. UGA might have stolen a page out of the Vanderbilt playbook.
After a rough Wednesday, LSU did well
The Tigers continued their hot hitting, but they did have an ugly 11-6 loss to Louisiana Tech on Wednesday. The culprit? Five Tigers errors — only 6 of Tech’s 11 runs were earned. The next 4 games went a little smoother — LSU won by a combined 41-3 count. The Tigers are hitting .362 as a team. They have 4 starters hitting over .400, led by Dylan Crews’ .483 mark. Meanwhile, opposing teams are hitting .178. Sure, the competition will improve. But it’s a good start.
UT showing no mercy
Iona played a series at Tennessee this weekend. Suffice to say, the Gaels will remember it for a while. After the Vols won 27-1 on Friday, they won 29-0 on Saturday. Sunday had to be something of a moral victory for Iona, as it was a 12-2 squeaker. Yes, that was a 68-3 series. Sorry, LSU — UT is hitting .395 right now. Trey Lipscomb isn’t just hitting .577, he has 20 RBIs in 7 games (and he hit for the cycle!).
Have yourself a day Trey!
Just the fourth cycle in program history and first since 2016. ?#GBO // #OTH // #Vols pic.twitter.com/AQ6vqzr8UJ
— Tennessee Baseball (@Vol_Baseball) February 26, 2022
These are video game stats. The Vols’ team ERA is 0.89, and they’ve allowed 28 hits in 61 innings. UT is good. How good? Well, the Iona series didn’t tell us much.
More 2-sport stars in Oxford
All apologies to John Rhys Plumlee; he’s the old-school 2-sport guy. The Rebels introduced another 2-sport standout in another unbeaten week. Defensive tackle/first baseman Tywone Malone ended Sunday’s 14-3 win over VCU with a walk-off blast that triggered the mercy rule.
You asked, we answered.@TywoneMalone | #HottyToddy pic.twitter.com/lceyrKCJiy
— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) February 27, 2022
Malone’s cameo aside, the Rebels just keep rolling. Kevin Graham has been the star at bat, hitting .375 with 3 homers and 12 RBIs. On the mound, no Rebels starter has an ERA above 2.70. Ole Miss is 6-0 for a reason.
Tide can’t beat Texas, but pitch well
The bad news for Alabama is that Texas swept its series with the Tide. The good news is that Bama’s pitchers held Texas to a single run on Friday and just 2 on Saturday. Even Sunday’s 6-1 loss was competitive. Texas’ pitching staff is imposing, but Alabama did a great job keeping the Longhorns close. If only the hitting had followed.
Vandy, Florida putting it back on track
The Commodores had a tough series loss but rebounded with a nice full week. Shutouts on Wednesday and Sunday (with Wednesday’s a 1-hitter) bookended 2 wins over Army. That said, the bats are still a work in progress. Vandy is hitting .261, with nobody topping 6 RBIs for the season. Led by Enrique Bradfield Jr. (6-for-6), the Commodores are 16-for-17 on stolen base attempts. Look for that to continue.
Florida had an unbeaten week as well. Not only did the Gators go 5-0, they allowed only 1 run in 4 of the 5 wins. Hunter Barco has been all he was supposed to be, striking out 23 in 12 innings and posting an 0.75 ERA.
Unhittable. Career-high 12 Ks through six.
GSU 1, UF 3 | M6#GoGators | ?: https://t.co/hLXZFZtiQH pic.twitter.com/BHJnBpebKZ
— Florida Gators Baseball (@GatorsBB) February 26, 2022
Three Gators have 3 homers, and if Jud Fabian can get it going, look out.
A&M drops a series
Texas A&M didn’t have a great week, as it lost its weekend series to … Penn. Yes, the Ivy League team. A 2-1 loss on Friday was followed by a Sunday doubleheader split. The bullpen coughed up a 5-3 9th-inning lead into an 8-5 loss on Sunday. Jim Schlossnagle’s squad can’t give away games like that. It has a nice upcoming week with 3 games in the Frisco Classic. Hopefully, the Aggies will be more consistent.
Can Kentucky keep up big innings?
The good news for Kentucky is that it’s 7-0. The bad news is that it’s something of a high-wire act. The Wildcats trailed Western Michigan 12-4 in the 7th inning on Saturday. A 5-run 8th inning helped Kentucky reach extra frames, and it won 13-12 in 12.
We erased an 8-run deficit today, the largest comeback in a win under Nick Mingione. Here's how ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/xPGDLnHy8J
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) February 27, 2022
Sunday saw a 5-5 tie in the 8th inning with the same Western Michigan squad. Kentucky then exploded for an 11-run inning to end the game. UK can’t count on explosions like that in the SEC, but it has certainly made for an interesting start to the season.