SEC Weekend Preview (March 26th-28th)

SEC Baseball The SEC enters their second weekend of conference play with some intriguing matchups. The best series is #5 Florida visiting #19 Ole Miss while #20 Alabama visits #16 Arkansas is also a matchup between Top 20 schools. #26 Kentucky heads to #23 Vanderbilt in the only other conference series to feature ranked squads. The other matchups on the weekend sees #4 LSU visiting Tennessee, #21 South Carolina heading to Auburn, and Georgia heading to Mississippi State.

#4 LSU at Tennessee

The LSU Tigers head to Tennessee this weekend to take on the Tennessee Volunteers. They enter the weekend with a 17-3 overall record while being 2-1 in the SEC this season after taking two out of three games from Arkansas in Baton Rouge last weekend. They also picked up a mid-week victory over Louisiana-Lafayette 4-3. The Tigers currently have six hitters who check in with averages about .300 with Blake Dean (TCBB #8) leading them as he is hitting .372 with four homers and 26 RBI on the year. The pitching staff has been suspect this season as number 1 starter Anthony Ranaudo has made only one appearance before missing time with an arm injry. He is expected to return this weekend on Sunday. The best Tiger starting pitcher heading into this weekend has been Austin Ross who is 2-1 with a 4.88 ERA.

Tennessee enters the weekend with a 11-10 record while being 0-3 in the SEC. They are coming off a 9-1 victory on Tuesday over USC-Upstate after being swept by South Carolina last weekend. P.J. Polk is leading the offensive attack for the Volunteers as he is hitting .342 with a homer and eight RBI in 21 games this season. Zach Osbourne and Cody Hawn are leading the Vols power as each of them has four homers. Bryan Morgado entered the season with a ton of press but has been up and down throughout the season as he is 2-1 with a 4.55 ERA.

Probable Starting Pitchers
FRIDAY (7 p.m. ET) LSU Jr. RHP Austin Ross (2-1, 4.88 ERA) vs UT Jr. LHP Bryan Morgado (2-1, 4.55 ERA)
SATURDAY (3 p.m. ET) LSU So. LHP Chris Matulis (3-0, 1.47 ERA) vs UT Sr. RHP Stephen McCray (2-2, 0.89 ERA)
SUNDAY (2 p.m. ET) LSU Jr. RHP Anthony Ranaudo (0-0, 0-00 ERA) vs UT So. LHP Steven Gruver (1-0, 3.00 ERA)

Predictions
Brian Foley: LSU 2-1
Allen Kha: LSU Sweep

LSU Series Notes
Tennessee Series Notes

#5 Florida at #19 Ole Miss

Florida heads to Oxford MS to take on the Ole Miss Rebels in the marquee SEC series this weekend. Florida enters the weekend with a 17-3 overall record while being a PrestonTucker perfect 3-0 in SEC play after sweeping Mississippi State. They picked up a mid-week victory over Florida Gulf Coast 13-8 in which they trailed 8-0 in the second inning. They are led on offense by 2009 National Freshman of the Year Preston Tucker who is hitting .382 with four homers and 20 RBI. Matt den Dekker and Austin Maddox are both tied for second on the team in batting average at .369. Matt den Dekker leads the team with eight stolen bases while Maddox leads them with six homers and 27 RBI. The Gators pitching staff has been led by Alex Panteliodis who is 5-0 with an ERA of 1.52 ERA in five appearances (3 starts). Kevin Chapman has also been strong out of the bullpen as he is 1-0 with a 1.20 ERA accumulating four saves.

Ole Miss enters the weekend with a 17-5 overall record while being 2-1 in the SEC after defeating Kentucky in two out of three games last weekend. They are coming off two mid-week victories where they defeated Southern Miss 11-6 and St. Louis 14-5. The Rebels offense is led by Alex Yarbrough who is hitting .351 with 15 RBI. Matt Smith is second on the squad with a .339 average with three homers and 19 RBI. Drew Pomeranz has been the ace of the pitching staff like expected in the preseason as he is a perfect 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA in five starts. He has pitched in 29.1 innings while striking out 49 batters and keeping opponents to a .170 average. Eric Callendar has been serving as the team’s closer as he is 1-0 with a 2.66 ERA while picking up three saves.

Probable Starting Pitchers
FRIDAY (6:30 p.m. CT) UF So. LHP Alex Panteliodis (5-0, 1.52 ERA) vs OM Jr. LHP Drew Pomeranz (3-0, 1.23 ERA)
SATURDAY (6 p.m. CT) UF Fr. LHP Brian Johnson (1-1, 4.29 ERA) vs OM Sr. RHP Aaron Barrett (5-0, 1.69 ERA)
SUNDAY (1 p.m. CT) UF Fr. RHP Hudson Randall (2-0, 3.80 ERA) vs OM TBA

Predictions
Brian Foley: Florida 2-1
Allen Kha: Ole Miss 2-1

Florida Series Notes
Ole Miss Series Notes

#20 Alabama at #16 Arkansas

The Alabama Crimson Tide head on the road this weekend to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Crimson Tide enter the weekend with an overall record of 16-3 while being 2-1 in SEC play after defeating Vanderbilt last weekend. They picked up a non-conference loss to Auburn in Montgomery on Wednesday night by a score of 8-6. Alabama’s offense has been led by Taylor Dugas who is hitting .484 with 11 RBI and 10 stolen bases on the year. Head Coach Mitch Gaspard said the following about the play of Dugas: “Taylor is certainly one of the top leadoff guys in the country. He led the SEC for good bit last year in hitting as a freshman. He is just off to another tremendous start.  He is our spark plug and gets us going and sets the table.  For most of last year, he led the league in doubles. He is a Lenny Dykstra-type player that ignites the offense.  He is one of the better players to come through Alabama.” Jimmy Nelson has been leading the pitching staff with a 4-0 record with a 1.26 ERA in five appearances. Adam Morgan has also been solid in the rotation as he is 3-0 with a 2.83 ERA.

The Arkansas Razorbacks enter the weekend with an overall record of 15-5 with an SEC record of 1-2 after losing the final two games of their series with LSU. They defeated McNeese State down in Lake Charles on Tuesday and Wednesday for the two weekday wins. Zach Cox is the top hitter on the squad this season as he is hitting .420 with three homers and 19 RBI. Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said the following about Cox: “He is one of the best players in the country. The challenge he brings is one Smyly mistake, and he can even hit a pitcher’s pitch, and hit a three-run homer in a heartbeat.  In this league there are a select five to seven players that can turn a game around with one swing of the bat and he is certainly one of those guys.  That to me is where they really present some real issues for you on the other side, because they’ve got three guys or so in that lineup that can run a ball out of the park at any time and change the score quickly. Cox, (Andy) Wilkins and Eibner all have big-time power.  Cox is really complete and he is really developing into a real special player.” Collin Kuhn is second on the squad with a .324 average while hitting three homers and driving in 14 runs. Drew Smyly has been leading the pitching staff this season as he is 2-0 with an ERA of 1.73 in five appearances (four starts)

Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard said the following about the Arkansas squad: “We’ve got an awful lot of respect for Arkansas.  We know that they are loaded back with a lot of experienced players that went to Omaha last year.  They’ve played a pretty tough schedule up to this point.  We will really start breaking them down today on the trip there. (Mike) Bolsinger, we have seen him enough, to know that he is awfully good.  (Drew) Smyly has pitched really well for them. (Brett) Eibner and couple of guys out of the pen are good.  The one thing about Arkansas is they can be a really powerful lineup with some really physical players.  They have good team speed.  It’s a team with good balance throughout.  They are awfully good at home and are very well coached with Dave (Van Horn) and Todd (Butler) and (Dave) Jorn, who all do a really nice job.  We certainly know that for us this weekend it’s going to be a great challenge. They have such a great fan base and a great environment to play baseball in.”

Probable Starting Pitchers
FRIDAY (6:30 p.m. CT) Bama-So. LHP Adam Morgan (3-0, 2.83 ERA) vs ARK- Sr. RHP Mike Bolsinger (3-0, 3.18 ERA)
SATURDAY (2 p.m. CT) Bama- Jr. RHP Jimmy Nelson (4-0, 1.26 ERA) vs ARK- So. LHP Drew Smyly (2-0, 1.73 ERA)
SUNDAY (1 p.m. CT) Bama- Fr. LHP Taylor Wolfe (2-0, 3.00 ERA) vs ARK- Jr. RHP Brett Eibner (2-2, 2.18 ERA)

Predictions
Brian Foley: Alabama 2-1
Allen Kha: Arkansas 2-1

Alabama Series Notes
Arkansas Series Notes

#21 South Carolina at Auburn

Flechter The South Carolina Gamecocks head down to Auburn to play in their second SEC series of the year. The Gamecocks enter with a 17-4 overall record while being a perfect 3-0 in the SEC after sweeping Tennessee last weekend. They are led on offense by Jeffrey Jones who is hitting .378 with four homers and 17 RBI. Kyle Enders is second on the squad with a .361 average with 12 RBI. Nolan Belcher has been the best starting pitcher on the squad as he is 2-0 with a 1.47 ERA.

Auburn enters the weekend with an overall record of 16-5 while being a perfect 3-0 in the conference after sweeping Georgia over the weekend. They picked up two victories in mid-week action by defeating Samford 10-3 on Tuesday and then defeating SEC foe Alabama 8-6 in non-conference action in Montgomery. They are led on offense by Brian Fletcher and Hunter Morris. Fletcher is currently hitting .400 with eight homers and 29 RBI while Morris is hitting .415 with eight homers and 32 RBI. Cole Nelson has been the most consistent starting pitcher as he is 4-0 with a 3.67 ERA on the year.

Probable Starting Pitchers
FRIDAY (6:30 p.m. CT) SC Sr. RHP Blake Cooper (3-0, 2.90 ERA) vs AU So. LHP Cory Luckie (1-0, 5.40 ERA)
SATURDAY (Noon CT) SC Jr. RHP Sam Dyson (1-0, 5.40 ERA) vs AU Jr. LHP Cole Nelson (4-0, 3.67 ERA)
SUNDAY (1 p.m. CT) SC Fr. LHP Tyler Webb (1-1, 2.53 ERA) vs AU TBA

Predictions
Brian Foley: Auburn 2-1
Allen Kha: South Carolina 2-1

South Carolina Series Notes
Auburn Series Notes

#26 Kentucky at #23 Vanderbilt

The Kentucky Wildcats head to Nashville this weekend to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores as both teams play their second SEC series of the year. Kentucky enters the series with a 16-5 overall record while being 1-2 in the SEC after losing two out of three games to Ole Miss. Kentucky’s offensive star to this point has been Chris Bisson who is hitting .390 with two homers and 14 RBI. Keenan Wiley has also been strong at the dish as he is hitting .351 with three homers and 17 RBI. The Wildcats pitching staff has been led by Logan Darnell who is 3-1 with an ERA of 3.09 in five starts this season. Matt Little has been excellent out of the bullpen as he is 1-0 including four saves with a 0.48 ERA in nine appearances.

Vanderbilt enters the weekend with an overall record of 18-4 and 1-2 in SEC action as they lost two out of three games at Alabama last weekend. They picked up a two mid-week victories over Lipscomb and Wright State. They are being led on offense by Jason Esposito who is hitting .391 with five homers and 28 RBI on the year. Brian Harris has also been good as he is hitting .387 with two homers and 16 RBI. Sonny Gray and Taylor Hill both led the pitching rotation for the Commodores. Gray enters the weekend with a 3-2 record and a 2.73 ERA while Hill is 3-1 with a 2.90 ERA.

Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday: UK LHP Logan Darnell (3-1, 3.09 ERA) vs. VU RHP Sonny Gray (3-2, 2.73 ERA)
Saturday: UK LHP Taylor Rogers (3-1, 4.75 ERA) vs. VU RHP Taylor Hill (3-1, 2.90 ERA)
Sunday: UK RHP Alex Meyer (4-2, 6.51 ERA) vs. VU RHP Jack Armstrong (3-0, 3.16 ERA)

Predictions
Brian Foley: Kentucky 2-1
Allen Kha: Kentucky 2-1

Kentucky Series Notes
Vanderbilt Series Notes

Georgia at Mississippi State

The Georgia Bulldogs and Mississippi State matchup in Starkville this weekend as both teams look to pick up their first conference win of the year. Georgia enters the weekend with a 8-13 record while being 0-3 in the SEC after being swept at home by Auburn. They are currently on a six game losing streak which was most recently continued by Furman on Wednesday when the Paladins picked up a 10-9 victory at Foley Field. The Bulldogs offense has been led by Zach Cone who is hitting .388 with three homers and 18 RBI. The Georgia pitching staff has been a struggle all season as they have a team ERA of 8.31. The only pitcher that has been semi-successful has been Justin Grimm who is 1-2 and has a 5.61 ERA in five starts.

Mississippi State enters the weekend with a 12-9 overall record while being 0-3 in the SEC after getting swept by Florida last weekend. They did get a win over Memphis on Wednesday 7-6 to get back into the win column. Connor Powers has been by far the best hitter in the MSU lineup as he is hitting .413 with eight homers and 34 RBI. His 34 RBI are 22 more then his nearest competitor on the team. Chris Stratton has been the best starting pitcher as he is 2-2 with a 2.63 ERA in five starts. Ben Bracewell leads the team with two saves on the year.

Probable Starting Pitchers
FRIDAY (6:30 p.m. CT) UGA Sr. RHP Jeff Walters (0-2, 9.58 ERA) vs MSU Fr. RHP Kendall Graveman (1-1, 4.98 ERA)
SATURDAY (2 p.m. CT) UGA Jr. RHP Justin Grimm (1-2, 5.16 ERA) vs MSU Fr. RHP Chris Stratton (2-2, 2.63 ERA)
SUNDAY (1:30 p.m. CT) UGA So. RHP Michael Palazzone (3-2, 9.15 ERA) vs MSU TBA

Predictions
Brian Foley: MSU 3-0
Allen Kha: MSU 2-1

Georgia Series Notes
Mississippi State Series Notes