College Baseball: Week Six SEC Weekend Series Preview


If anyone is curious to know who the best team in college baseball is, watch the LSU vs. Kentucky series starting Friday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium in Lexington.

The winner of the Tigers vs. Wildcats series will have as legitimate of a claim as any other college baseball team in the nation to being the number one ranked overall team by all major publications once the smoke clears.

The Wildcats are coming off their first series win at Arkansas in 9 years (2-1) and have not lost a SEC series in 2012.Kentucky played a one-game midweek series against Cincinnati on Tuesday winning 7-0.

LSU enters the weekend series as one of the hottest teams in the nation having won seven straight games including a weekend series win over Florida, midweek wins over Alcorn State and Southern Miss, and a sweep of SEC West rival Alabama last weekend.

Since LSU’s disappointing series loss to Auburn March 23-25, Tigers manager Paul Mainieri has guided his team to wins over two top five teams (No. 3 Arkansas and No. 1 Florida) with a chance to knock off SEC East frontrunner Kentucky.

The highly anticipated cross divisional SEC games provides a matchup within the matchup featuring leftfielder Ralph Ryhmes against Kentucky’s starting trio of left handed pitchers- Corey Littrell, Taylor Rogers, and Jerad Grundy.

Ryhmes has a SEC best .484 batting average and went 3-4 against Lamar on Wednesday. Kentucky has a respectable team ERA of 3.62.

LSU is only 5-3 away from Alex Box Stadium while Kentucky is nearly unstoppable at home sporting a 24-2 record (Ole Miss and Louisville).

Baseball America ranks Kentucky No. 3 and LSU No. 4. Collegiate Baseball ranks the Wildcats No. 2 and LSU No. 1.

UK has a two game lead on Florida and LSU has a three game lead on the Razorbacks. Both teams are still fighting to gain ground in their individual races and cannot afford to lose a SEC series at this point in the college baseball season.

Beyond the race for SEC supremacy is the national fight for hosting not only a regional, as both teams are currently inline to achieve, but the chance to also host a super regional; assuming either team moves past the first round of post season play.

In other SEC games, Georgia travels to Florida to try to make up ground in the SEC East. If the Bulldogs continue their weekend series trend look for pitcher Alex Wood to shut the door on the Gators on Friday night but watch the Gators take the series 2-1.

South Carolina takes on Auburn in the battle of third place teams in their respective divisions. The exception is USC is trending upward while Auburn is hovering just above .500 on the season.

The Gamecocks are coming off a sweep of Mississippi State while Auburn looks to bounce back from a disappointing series loss to Vanderbilt.

The battle of the SEC cellar dwellers will feature Vanderbilt on the road at Alabama. The Tide only has four wins in conference to the Commodores six.

A slight edge in the weekend games goes to the home team with an 11-8 record in front of their fans. The Commodores are 1-9 outside of Nashville.

Tennessee fought tough with the Gators last week before taking a sound drumming on Sunday to lose their series 2-1. The Vols have not found success on the road posting a 2-5 mark. They have to face a Bulldog team that plays with a different focus at home (19-6).

MSU has lost four in a row and need a win to stay ahead of Alabama for last place in the SEC West.

Arkansas found their offense in a midweek double header against Stephen F. Austin winning both games 8-3 and 4-3.

The Razorbacks have been hit and miss at the plate in conference play but their pitching rotation remains one of the best in the nation. This offers an excellent pairing against a Mississippi team that can flat out hit.

Alex Yarbrough .421, Matt Snyder .363, and Tanner Mathis .348 are second, fourth and seventh respectively in the SEC in batting average.

The Hogs have the top two pitchers in terms of ERA in conference- Brandon Moore (reliever) and Barrett Astin (starter/reliever). Astin has recently moved to the Saturday spot in Arkansas’ rotation from his role as team closer and the Hogs have not missed a beat in the bullpen.

Arkansas needs to win their series against Ole Miss as badly as any ranked team in the nation needs to win their respective series. The Hogs have won three of five SEC series with one sweep against Alabama. Should the Razorbacks lose on the road to Ole Miss, they may lose any shot at winning the SEC West and could potentially topple out of the Top 25 in a couple of polls.

SEC Thursday Game of the Week

Tennessee at Mississippi State

SEC Weekend Series: April 19-22

No. 16 Arkansas at No. 24 Ole Miss

Georgia at No. 4 Florida

Tennessee at Mississippi State

No. 1 LSU at No. 2 Kentucky

Vanderbilt at Alabama

No. 13 South Carolina at Auburn

Top Five Batting Averages in the SEC

Ralph Ryhmes, LSU, .476

Alex Yarbrough, Ole Miss, .421

Ryan Tella, Auburn, .403

Matt Snyder, Ole Miss, .363

Anthony Gomez, Vanderbilt, .359

Top Team Batting Averages in the SEC


Ole Miss .315

Auburn .303

LSU .302

Florida .292

Georgia .282

South Carolina .277

Arkansas .275

Top Team ERA in the SEC

Arkansas 2.73

LSU 2.96

South Carolina 2.98

Florida 3.10

Mississippi State 3.15

Ole Miss 3.36

* All averages are taken through April 15.

** All rankings taken from Collegiate Baseball

SEC East (Overall Record, SEC Record)

Kentucky 33-5, 11-4

Florida 29-8, 9-6

South Carolina 27-11, 8-7

Georgia 23-15, 7-8

Tennessee 22-15, 7-8

Vanderbilt 17-20, 6-9

SEC West (Overall Record, SEC Record)

LSU 31-7, 11-4

Arkansas 27-10, 8-7

Auburn 21-16, 7-8

Ole Miss 25-12, 7-8

Mississippi State 21-16, 5-10

Alabama 14-24, 4-11