Just when the races for the SEC West and East divisional winners seemed to be in control by LSU and Kentucky last weekend happened. Every other top team in the SEC was seemingly upset but none lost more important ground than then No. 2 Kentucky after being shocked by unranked Vanderbilt.
The Wildcats dropped two games to the Commodores, losing sole control of first place in the East in the process. Arkansas took two from Florida to stay within striking distance of LSU in the West and Ole Miss was bounced out of Starkville by the Bulldogs.
South Carolina rolled over the Tide, LSU skated past Georgia 2-1, and Auburn crushed Tennessee in a three-game sweep.
The SEC heats up again this weekend (week eight in the SEC) with several key series throughout the region. The top three-game set in the East pits No. 8 Florida vs. No. 3 Kentucky in Lexington.
The Wildcats enter the weekend 3-4 in their last seven games and in a tie with South Carolina for first place in the East.
Florida snuck by the Razorbacks on Friday 3-2 and rallied to take Sunday’s game into extra innings before the Hogs closed out the series win with a 3-1 victory in 10 innings.
Both No. 8 Florida and No. 3 Kentucky are primed to host regional NCAA Tournaments in the post season due to their rankings and RPI (Kentucky No. 10, Florida No. 2) but may have to make room for the resurging Gamecocks.
The winner between the Gators and Wildcats should be in line for a national seeding. At stake for Kentucky is staying atop the East and winning a bye in the first round of the SEC Tournament.
If Florida wins they can move back into first place, tied or otherwise, with Kentucky and No. 4 South Carolina, if the Razorbacks take care of the Gamecocks at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
Every SEC team that was at home last weekend is now on the road and every team that was at home is now on the road. After two weekends as the visitors against ranked opponents, Ole Miss and Florida, the Hogs are happy to be back home where they hold a 26-4 record; one of the top home records in the SEC.
The Gamecocks started the SEC season being swept by Kentucky and losing two of three to Florida at home but have recovered to win five straight series against Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Auburn, and Alabama.
After a weekend on the road at No. 13 Arkansas, college baseball fans will know if the Gamecocks are contenders or pretenders. South Carolina has only one victory against a ranked team during the 2012 season-Florida, 9-3, March 22, 2012 in Columbia.
A series win for Arkansas will keep them within reach of West leading No. 5 LSU.
The Tigers have a three game lead on the Hogs with nine games remaining. Hot hitting Ole Miss lost ground against in-state rival MSU and look to steal another series at home against LSU this weekend.
LSU and Ole Miss have strong weekend rotations but better hitting. If the final scores of each game seem more like a Saturday score during the fall do not be surprised.
Arkansas needs to gain four games on the Tigers through nine to win the West. Any help the Rebels can provide the Razorbacks will be appreciated by Razorback Nation.
Vanderbilt can continue to turn the tables on their season with a series win at Tennessee. The Commodores were the East cellar dwellers for much of the SEC season until taking two from UK.
If Vandy can continue their hot play against the Vols they will assure themselves a spot in the SEC Tournament come May 22-27. Commodore fans have to be excited to know their in-state rival has lost seven straight entering the weekend.
MSU has a chance to leap into second place in the West, should the Hogs falter, after playing Bama this weekend. Alabama showed signs of life in week six beating Vanderbilt two out of three tries. Should MSU trip on the road, the race for last in the West just became a little more interesting.
Auburn scored 35 runs againstTennesseelast week and look to do the same against Georgia on the road. After facing Georgia pitcher Alex Wood on Friday the Tigers may be able to light up the scoreboard on Saturday and Sunday.
Auburn, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State are in a precarious position of advancing in the race for second place in the West or dropping into the danger zone with Alabama. None of the teams appear to have a shot at LSU being five games behind in the standings. Only Arkansas has a true shot to overtake the Tigers as the situation currently stands.
The SEC has to be excited to have all six series counting for something this late in the season.
It’ll be even worse next year…
The Hogs gave an early welcome to 2013 SEC East foe Missouri on Tuesday and Wednesday. Arkansas won the two-game set 6-3 and 2-0. The Tigers dropped to 23-21 on the season.
SEC Notes and News
If you thought LSU outfielder Ralph Rhymes season was ridiculous before, you won’t believe this. Rhymes raised his .500 batting average three points from last weekend. His .503 batting average is 54 points higher than the next player in college baseball- Danny Poma, Hofstra.
Ole Miss second baseman Alex Yarbrough is the next closest AQ member close to Rhymes hitting an impressive .417.
Florida catcher Mike Zunino leads the SEC with 12 homers, five behind NCAA leader Brandon Miller of Samford.
Tony Kemp, Vanderbilt, leads the SEC in triples with six.
Auburn took over the top spot in the team batting average category jumping up seven points to .318. Kentucky dropped eight points to .308 to lose their top spot. The Wildcats are in second place in the SEC.
The Razorbacks lowered their team ERA from a paltry 2.83 to an almost ridiculous 2.61 after facing Florida. The Hogs have the fourth best team ERA in college baseball- No. 1 Costal Carolina 2.42, No. 2 Portland 2.58, and No. 3 Missouri State 2.61.
SEC Thursday Game of the Week
No. 8 Florida at No. 3 Kentucky
SEC Weekend Series: May 3-6
No. 4 South Carolina at No. 13 Arkansas
Auburn at Georgia
Vanderbilt at Tennessee
No. 5 LSU at Ole Miss
No. 29 Mississippi State at Alabama
No. 8 Florida at No. 3 Kentucky
Baseball America Rankings
No. 3 Kentucky
No. 4 LSU
No. 5 South Carolina
No. 7 Florida
No. 18 Arkansas
No. 24 Ole Miss
Collegiate Baseball Rankings
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 34-11, 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 36-10, 14-7
Arkansas 31-13, 11-10
Auburn 25-19, 10-11
Mississippi State 27-17, 10-11
Ole Miss 30-16, 10-11
Alabama 17-28, 6-15
* Standings and records through May 3
Top Eight Batting Averages in the SEC
Ralph Ryhmes, LSU, .503
Alex Yarbrough, Ole Miss, .417
Ryan Tella, Auburn, .376
Cullen Wacker, Auburn, .359
Ben Moore, Auburn, .359
Anthony Gomez, Vanderbilt, .358
Curt Powell, Georgia, .355
Matt Snyder, Ole Miss, .347
Top Team Batting Averages in the SEC
Ole Miss .307
South Carolina .274
Top Team ERA in the SEC
Mississippi State 2.87
South Carolina 3.07
Ole Miss 3.32
Individual Wins in the SEC
Chris Stratton, MSU, 8
Kevin Gausman, LSU, 7
D.J. Baxendale, Arkansas, 6
Ryne Stanek, Arkansas, 6
Corey Littrell, UK, 6
Colby Holmes, USC, 6
Sam Selman, VU, 6
11 tied at 5 wins each
* All statistics taken through May 3.
** All rankings taken from Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball.
Topics: 2012 SEC Baseball, Alabama, Alex Yarbourgh, Auburn, Baseball, College Baseball, D.J. Baxendale, Florida Gators, Georgia Bulldogs, Kentucky Wildcats, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Ralph Rhymes, Ryne Stanek, SEC Baseball, SEC Baseball Preview, SEC Standings, Vanderbilt, Week 8 In SEC Baseball