Just when every team in the SEC seemed to be on cruise control the races for the top spots in the SEC East and West have heated up after a weekend filled with upsets.
On paper the only SEC matchup of interest was then No. 21 Arkansas vs. No. 5 Florida. Arkansas and Florida both limped into the series but the national media continued to sing the Gator’s praises in the polls while the Razorbacks saw a week in and week out drop in the polls.
Arkansas was able to take two of three from the home team winning Saturday and Sunday’s game 5-1 and 3-1 (10 innings) after dropping the opener 3-2.
The biggest surprise of the weekend was the proverbial rise from the ashes by Vanderbilt.
The Commodores were last in the SEC East with only seven conference wins before hosting SEC East frontrunner and then No. 2 Kentucky.
At the conclusion of their series the Wildcats dropped their first SEC series of the year losing two of three games (5-2, 4-3, and 6-1) and Vanderbilt may have secured a spot in the SEC Tournament.
Kentucky had a comfortable two game lead over Florida and South Carolina but now share the top spot in the East with the Gamecocks.
South Carolina won a slug fest with Alabama on Friday winning 12-11 and took Saturday’s finale due to inclement weather on Sunday 9-1.
The Tide and the Vols are now in last place in their respective divisions and each are slowly watching their chances to make the field of 10 in the SEC Tournament go away.
Tennessee was swept by Auburn in a series where the Tigers put 35 runs on the scoreboard in three games. The sweep moves Auburn one game behind the Razorbacks in the West for second place.
The other surprise over the weekend was Mississippi State’s upset 2-1 series win over then No. 18 Ole Miss.
The Rebels were tied with Arkansas for second place after taking a home series against the Hogs the previous weekend but are now in a three-way tie for third with Auburn and MSU.
LSU was able to win two games at home against Georgia losing the series finale 5-3.
The Tigers remain three games ahead of the Razorbacks with nine conference games left to play. Arkansas closes with South Carolina and Auburn at home and then travel to Tennessee for their last conference series of the 2012 campaign.
LSU travels to Ole Miss, hosts Vanderbilt, and finishes at South Carolina.
The schedules for Arkansas and LSU line up for an interesting finish to the SEC college baseball season in the SEC West.
Arkansas is still on the outside looking in. The Hogs are three games back with the Tigers owning the tie breaker. For the Hogs to win the West they need LSU to lose four games at the minimum with Arkansas winning out.
In the East, South Carolina travels to Arkansas then to Georgia before finishing at home with LSU. Kentucky hosts Florida and Alabama then ends at MSU.
Florida now moves into the wildcard spot to finish first in the East being two games out of first. The Gators travel to Kentucky, host MSU, and then head to Auburn to close their season.
Florida can control their destiny with a road series win over Kentucky.
South Carolina may have the toughest road ahead having to play the Razorbacks and LSU. Georgia always finds a way to win at least one game in each series, count one loss for the Gamecocks that weekend.
The top two teams in the SEC East and West receive a bye in the first round of the SEC Tournament. Teams 3-10 are seeded by conference winning percentages.
Baseball America Rankings of SEC Teams
No. 3 Kentucky
No. 4 LSU
No. 5 South Carolina
No. 7 Florida
No. 18 Arkansas
No. 24 Ole Miss
Collegiate Baseball Rankings of SEC Teams
No. 3 Kentucky
No. 4 South Carolina
No. 5 LSU
No. 8 Florida
No. 13 Arkansas
No. 29 Mississippi State
SEC East (Overall Record, SEC Record)
Kentucky 36-9, 14-7
South Carolina 33-11, 14-7
Florida 33-12, 12-9
Georgia 25-20, 9-12
Vanderbilt 21-23, 9-12
Tennessee 22-22, 7-14
SEC West (Overall Record, SEC Record)
LSU 35-10, 14-7
Arkansas 31-13, 11-10
Auburn 25-19, 10-11
Mississippi State 27-17, 10-11
Ole Miss 28-16, 10-11
Alabama 17-28, 6-15
* Standings and records through April 29
SEC Players of the Week
Blake Austin, Catcher, Sophomore, Auburn: Austin hit .643 (9-14) last week with a team-high 10 RBI; one home run, two doubles, three runs scored. He went 7-11 versus Tennessee.
SEC Pitcher of the Week
Chris Stratton, RHP, Junior, Mississippi State: Stratton beat Ole Miss by throwing a complete game five-hit shutout winning 4-0. Stratton struck out seven walked one. He has back to back nine innings pitched performances for the Bulldogs.
* SEC players of the week are selected by SECDigitalNetwork.com.
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