Last week was highlighted by impressive performances from Kentucky, Ole Miss, and South Carolina. Each team won their individual series with the Gamecocks sweeping Auburn on the road.
The Wildcats continued to show they are not a fluke team by beating another SEC stalwart member, LSU. Kentucky hosted the Tigers taking the Saturday and Sunday games after dropping Friday’s meeting 5-4.
The Razorbacks found another heartbreaking way to lose a close game on Saturday to Ole Miss.
In a pitcher’s duel between Arkansas’ Ryne Stanek and Rebels’ Mike Mayers, Mayers scattered two hits over 6.1 innings with no runs scored while Stanek allowed one run over 6.1 giving up just five hits. The hit total for both clubs was two and five at the completion of game two.
Of the Hogs nine conference games lost, five games have been lost by one-run or less with another loss coming by two runs.
Ole Miss took the opening game, suspended on Friday night due to rain until Saturday, 8-2. Arkansas returned the favor on Sunday winning 11-3 behind D.J. Baxendale’s efforts on the mound.
Florida took two of three from the Georgia Bulldogs while Alabama held strong at home against Vanderbilt also winning two of three.
SEC Weekend Notes
Teams continue to try and shake LSU outfielder Ralph Rhymes’ focus at the plate without succeeding. Rhymes is hitting .500 in 140 at bats during the 2012 college baseball season.
Intentional or unintentional, Florida beaned Rhymes with a fastball in their series and Kentucky threw one over his head during theirs’. The next pitch against the Wildcats Rhymes went yard finishing the game 4-4 with 3 RBI.
Despite having 70 hits on the season Rhymes only has 33 runs scored which does not rank him in the top 10 in runs scored in the SEC.
A telling stat about Rhymes’ 70 hits is only 12 are for extra bases (10 doubles, 2 homeruns, and 0 triples).
Rhymes is second in the SEC with 44 RBI, one behind Mississippi’s Matt Snyder.
Preview of Upcoming SEC Series
The top series of the week in the SEC is No. 21 Arkansas at No. 5 Florida. Both teams enter the weekend fighting to remain in the race to win their respective divisions. Both teams also have a precarious hold on second place in their divisions.
Florida has lost two of the six SEC series played (Ole Miss and LSU) while Arkansas has lost three of six (LSU, Kentucky, and Ole Miss).
The Gators do not play No. 2 Kentucky in an SEC series this season. The only time UK and UF may faceoff during the 2012 season in conference action is during the SEC Tournament May 22-27.
Arkansas is 3-7 on the road; Florida has a 21-5 mark at McKethan Stadium at Perry Field.
On the season the Gators are hitting .289 as a team to Arkansas’ .279. The Hogs own the top team ERA in the SEC with a 2.83 mark to Florida’s 3.03.
Both baseball teams are fairly similar in terms of production the difference being Florida’s ability to win tight games unlike Arkansas. The Gators are 2-4 in one-run games in conference play while the Razorbacks have dropped five one-run games against SEC teams.
Two more wins for the Razorbacks in SEC action translates to two more series wins and a Top 10 national ranking.
Kentucky is the only top SEC team to commit as many errors on the season than Arkansas. The Hogs have been charged with 47 errors, fifth worst in the SEC. Florida leads all conference teams with the fewest errors committed, 31.
Winning a road series is tough in the SEC. Arkansas has had trouble keeping their bats hot on the road but their pitching has remained solid.
The Hogs may need a couple of seeing eye grounders or flares to drop their way to help generate extra offense against the former No. 1 team in the nation if they hope to sneak a series win from the Gators.
Other SEC Series
The Magnolia State rivalry between Ole Miss and Mississippi State offers another SEC matchup worth noting.
Mississippi State showed grit against the Vols winning that series last weekend. If the Bulldogs can pull of the upset at home this weekend they could find themselves back in the thick of the SEC West race.
Chances are LSU will take at least two from Georgia to pull away from the rest of the pack. If the Rebels can win two at MSU they have a chance to stay in contention in the West.
South Carolina is solid at home (21-5) and Bama is dreadful on the road (3-14). USC needs a sweep against the Tide to stay within striking distance of Kentucky for the SEC East division title.
Auburn can light up the scoreboard with their bats and with their pitching; one is a good thing the other is not. Neither team has a solid weekend rotation but the Tigers will be able to out hit Tennessee especially at home. Look for Auburn to take two games at home.
Vanderbilt has not been Vanderbilt this season. Kentucky appears to be unstoppable at home and on the road. If UK does not sweep the Commodores this will be a major upset of sorts.
Georgia dropped a rare Friday game last weekend against Florida but made up the difference on Saturday.
The Tigers are as good of a team as there is in all of college baseball.
Georgia has found a way to win at least one game in each of their SEC series. Look for the Bulldogs to sneak one win out in Baton Rouge.
SEC Thursday Game of the Week
Alabama at South Carolina
SEC Weekend Series: April 26-29
No. 21 Arkansas at No. 5 Florida
Georgia at No. 4 LSU
Tennessee at Auburn
No. 18 Ole Miss at Mississippi State
No. 2 Kentucky at Vanderbilt
Alabama at No. 7 South Carolina
SEC East (Overall Record, SEC Record)
Kentucky 35-7, 13-5
Florida 31-10, 11-7
South Carolina 30-11, 11-7
Georgia 24-18, 8-10
Tennessee 22-19, 7-11
Vanderbilt 18-22, 7-11
SEC West (Overall Record, SEC Record)
LSU 32-9, 12-6
Arkansas 29-12, 9-9
Ole Miss 27-14, 9-9
Mississippi State 25-16, 8-10
Auburn 22-19, 7-11
Alabama 17-25, 6-12
Top Six Batting Averages in the SEC
Ralph Ryhmes, LSU, .500
Alex Yarbrough, Ole Miss, .429
Ryan Tella, Auburn, .388
Ben Moore, Auburn, .378
Anthony Gomez, Vanderbilt, .376
Matt Snyder, Ole Miss, .368
Top Team Batting Averages in the SEC
Ole Miss .315
South Carolina .276
Top Team ERA in the SEC
Mississippi State 3.03
South Carolina 3.15
Ole Miss 3.36
* All statistics taken through April 23.
** All rankings taken from Baseball America.
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