Here is a rundown of week 6 in the SEC.
Tennessee at Mississippi State
Mississippi State fought their way to a hard-earned series sweep over Tennessee this weekend.
The Bulldogs needed extra frames to down the Vols Thursday night in yet another classic pitcher’s duel featuring MSU ace Chris Stratton. Stratton finished the night after pitching nine innings with 10 strikeouts, no walks, and only one run on four hits. Reliever Caleb Reed picked up his first win of the year as he pitched the final two innings.
With the game tied in the 11th inning, Tennessee loaded the bases. Chris Fritts stepped to the plate and lined a shot to centerfield. The Bulldog’s C. T. Bradford caught the liner and threw home as the runner on third tried to advance. The throw was perfect, and catcher Mitch Slauter applied the tag for an inning-ending double play.
Slauter would provide the offensive heroics in the bottom half of the inning. Trey Porter led off the inning with a double to right, and was followed by a bunt attempt by big man Wes Rea. Drew Steckenrider was unable to make the play at third to get Porter, and the Bulldogs had runners at the corners. The Vols intentionally walked Bradford to load the bases before Slauter provided the game-winning hit, sealing a 2-1 victory for MSU.
Friday saw the Bulldogs clinch the series with a 7-1 victory led by starting pitcher Kendall Graveman’s complete game performance. Graveman allowed only three hits while striking out eight and walking two.
The series finale saw the two teams tussle again past the nine inning mark. Mississippi State eventually finished off the Vols in the 14th inning by a final of 3-2.
With the score knotted at two in the 14th Matthew Britton led off the home half with a single. He was bunted to second by Sam Frost. Adam Frazier was intentionally walked, and Mitch Slauter reached on a ground ball to load the bases. Britton scored as the next pitch went wild, and the game ended.
Georgia at Florida
Georgia and Florida tangled in an Eastern division matchup this weekend with the Gators pulling out the series victory.
In a marathon 16-inning defensive struggle on Friday, the Gators were able to tally a 3-2 victory. The two teams displayed their fielding prowess even as the game bore down on the five-hour mark. But it would be a throwing error that would eventually allow Florida to score the winning run.
In the bottom of the 16th inning, Vickash Ramjit was stationed on third following a single, a sacrifice bunt from Cody Dent, and a wild pitch by Bulldog hurler Jay Swinford to Nolan Fontana. Swinford would go on to strike out Fontana, but catcher Brandon Stephens couldn’t hang on to it. His throw to first was off the mark, and Ramjit was able to cross the plate for the winning run.
Georgia bounced back Saturday defeating the Gators 5-3.
After falling behind 2-1 in the first inning, the Bulldogs scored three runs in the third to take 4-2 lead. Though the Gators tallied one more in the fourth, the four runs would be enough to secure the win for Bulldog starter Michael Pallazone who went eight innings allowing three runs on six hits. The Bulldogs tacked on one more in the ninth to achieve the two-run victory.
The rubber match on Sunday went to the Gators 6-3.
With Georgia leading 3-2 following a two-out rally in the sixth inning, Florida would respond with four runs in the bottom half of the same inning. Preston Tucker started the scoring when his double scored Justin Shafer. Mike Zunino singled after Tucker, and advanced to second on Brian Johnson’s sacrifice bunt. Daniel Pigott then belted a three-run homerun to run the score to its final tally of 6-3.
South Carolina at Auburn
After a rough start to SEC play, South Carolina has seemed to find its stride as they earned a series sweep over Auburn.
The opener on Friday was over quickly as South Carolina erupted for 11 runs by the fifth inning. They started the scoring quickly, putting up four in the first. They would add three in the fourth before hitting their way to their second four-run inning in the fifth.
Auburn managed crooked numbers in the fifth and seventh with two runs in each inning, and one more in the ninth. But the Gamecocks’ offense was too much for the Tigers and South Carolina took the first game 12-5.
South Carolina scored four runs in an inning for the third time in two games when they hit that mark in the sixth inning of their second game against Auburn. It would prove to be an insurmountable obstacle for the hapless Tigers. Although Auburn seemed to be attempting a comeback with single runs in the fifth, sixth, and eighth, the Gamecocks would end their hopes of tying the series with a run of their own in the top of the ninth brining the final score to 5-3.
The Tigers would shoot themselves in the foot all weekend as they racked up eight errors in the three games against South Carolina. Four of the errors came in the Sunday finale as the Gamecocks achieved the sweep with a final of 11-7. Leading 11-4 in the bottom of the ninth, South Carolina had to fight off a furious attempt by the Plainsmen to salvage one game from the weekend as Auburn hitters were able to record three runs in the final frame. But it would not be enough, and South Carolina looks to rediscovering the form that has won them the last two national championships.
Arkansas at Ole Miss
The preseason Western Division favorite, Arkansas has suddenly found itself looking for some good news. After dropping two of three to Ole Miss this weekend, the Razorbacks have lost three of their last four weekend series.
Friday’s game in Oxford was suspended in the fourth inning with the Rebels leading 6-1. Ole Miss got started quickly, scoring two runs in the first on an Alex Yarbrough homerun and three more in the second after an RBI single by Tanner Mathis and Yarbrough’s third and fourth RBIs on his double. That would prove more than enough and Ole Miss would go on to win 8-2 after the game was resumed on Saturday.
Saturday’s originally scheduled game was an affair of different sort as Arkansas and Ole Miss battled in a low scoring matchup with the Rebels edging the Razorbacks 1-0.
Both pitchers – Mike Mayers for Ole Miss and Ryne Stanek for Arkansas – lasted 6.1 innings. Mayers gave up no runs on two hits striking four and walking two. Stanek allowed the game’s only run on five hits with two K’s. The one run came in the sixth inning. Andrew Mistone opened the inning with a single. He reached third when the next two Rebel batters laid down successful sacrifice bunts. Yarbrough once again proved to be the offensive star when he drove Mistone in with an RBI single.
Arkansas was able to unleash its pent up offensive aggression on Sunday as they plated double-digit runs to beat Ole Miss 11-3, salvaging one game from the series.
The Razorbacks scored early and often, jumping out to a seven run lead after two innings. They were able to hold the Rebel batters in check, allowing just three runs while scattering 13 hits between four pitchers.
Vanderbilt at Alabama
After being swept last weekend, Alabama rebounded taking two of three from Vanderbilt in Tuscaloosa.
The opening game of the weekend for the two teams saw Alabama score in five of the first six innings. The consistency of the Tide bats was enough to withstand a late-inning rally by the Commodores. Alabama led 2-1 through three innings, but the Tide scored four straight runs over the next third of the game before giving up three straight as the Vanderbilt tried to mount an ultimately unsuccessful comeback. The Tide notched the victory by a final of 6-4.
Vanderbilt looked to be on their way to tying the series Saturday as they took a 6-4 lead into the bottom of the ninth. Alabama, though, would notch four runs to win the game in walk-off fashion. James Tullidge opened the home side of the ninth with a single. He was followed by Taylor Dugas, whose single allowed Tullidge to advance to third. Hunter Gregory earned an RBI after launching a sacrifice fly that scored Tullidge. After Commodore relief pitcher Will Clinard recorded an out and a walk, Austen Smith stepped to the plate. Smith would deposit a pitch from Clinard over the fence for a walk-off three-run homerun, giving Alabama an 8-6 win.
The Commodores were able to provide their own dramatics as head coach Tim Corbin skippered his team to his 500th career win.
Through seven innings Alabama built a 7-2 lead scoring three in the third and fourth, and one more in the sixth. Vanderbilt tied the score in the eighth. Anthony Gomez led off with a triple, and Conrad Gregor singled him home. With the bases loaded, pinch hitter Chris Harvey doubled to left-center for three RBIs. He was lifted for pinch runner Andrew Harris who scored the tying run on Tony Kemp’s double to left. Connor Harrell and Vince Conde both hit RBI singles in the ninth to earn the dramatic come-from-behind win for the ‘Dores.
I picked Alabama and Mississippi State to be the two teams left out of the SEC Tournament, but both teams recorded series victories this weekend. Alabama still has quite a bit of work to do, but Mississippi State is now right in the mix of things.
Arkansas has some serious questions to answer as they gear up to face Florida next weekend. The Razorbacks need to reverse their recent trend if they hope to reach the lofty goals they set out at the beginning of the season.
South Carolina seems to have found their stride. After dropping their opening two weekend series to the top two teams in the Eastern Division, the Gamecocks have four series in a row, and are in the midst of an eight-game SEC winning streak.