Auburn drops the series but avoids the road sweep
#6 Auburn @ #9 Kentucky
Friday: 5-4 L
Sunday Game 1: 4-3 W
Sunday Game 2: 13-3 L
Alright, my fingers have thawed out so let’s get after it. This was a rough week for Auburn, after a frustrating road loss at Georgia Tech, they headed up to Lexington for another matchup with another top 10 team. Casey Mize was brilliant once again in front of a sparse but spirited crowd at Cliff Hagen Stadium. It was a classic back and forth matchup that saw the Tigers take a 4-2 lead into the bottom of the 9th but a 2 run shot off of Calvin Coker and a wild pitch from Elloitt Anderson spelled doom for the Tigers.
Saturday was a bit of a problem. Snow, followed by rain, then some snow, and then rain made for some not so fun playing conditions and a double header was announced. In the first game on Sunday, it looked like a bases loaded walk from Davis Daniel would be the decider. Both Daniel and Zach Haake did an excellent job of working out of trouble and letting their defenses work for them. Then the 7th and final inning hit and the Tigers were finally able to string together some hits and push across 4 runs against Kentucky’s closer Chris Machamer. Coker returned and gave up a 2 run homer to make it a 4-3 game but followed it with a 3 pitch strike out to the next batter and Auburn evened up the series. In game 3 however, the Tigers were hit with the blizzard that is the Kentucky offense. Tanner Burns looked human in his first road start and only lasted 2 innings, giving up 4 runs which turned out to be more than Kentucky would need as the Auburn offense never got on track. It’s a tough road series loss but it wasn’t a road sweep and this season, that is going to be the goal. At home, nothing less than a series win will be the goal as sweeps will be few and far between with the schedule the Tigers have in front of them.
Pitching Performance of the Weekend
Just repeat what I’ve said about Casey Mize as it could always be his award but I will give it to Davis Daniel this week. The sophomore went 5 complete innings, scattering 3 hits and giving up just the 1 run he walked in back in the first. He also walked 4 and struck out 4 as well and was as close to dominating as he has been from the 2nd-5th innings. I wish we could tell Davis that his bullpen warm up in the pregame is actually the first inning because normally, he is on point from the 2nd inning on but that 1st inning is a bit of an adventure. Excellent job this week of shutting down one of the top offenses in the SEC this week and helping Auburn get the important road win to avoid the sweep.
Batting Performance of the Weekend
We will go a bit opposite way on this one, but the batting performance will turn more towards the most important hit of the weekend and that goes to Judd Ward for his RBI single that scored Steven Williams and put the Tigers up 4-1 at the time, but ended up being the winning run in the early game on Sunday. Ward has been lightly used to this point in the season but had a great at bat in a time when the Tigers had to have him.
Around the League
#4 Arkansas @ #2 Florida, FRI 6-3 ARK, SAT 17-2 UF, SUN 5-4 UF
In the premiere series of the weekend, Florida announced that they are going to make a tough weekend for anyone in the country. Arkansas was able to steal a victory against Brady Singer on Friday night and had its chances Sunday but this was, as any top 5 series win would be, a strong series win by the Gators. Don’t feel bad for Arkansas though, they aren’t going anywhere.
#5 Ole Miss @ # 13 Texas A&M, THU 5-4 UM, FRI 7-6 TAM, SAT 7-6 UM
A solid weekend for the Rebs as they go into College Station for an impressive series victory. Who would have thought the Aggies would be 2-4 after the first 2 weekends in the conference. That’s just how it goes in the SEC.
#18 LSU @ #7 Vanderbilt, FRI 4-2 VU, SAT 6-2 LSU, SUN 1-0 VU/7
I got to catch the first 7 innings of the Saturday tilt of this one and LSU’s offense was impressive against a tough Vandy team. As it always will be in any series against LSU, a solid win for the Dores in a productive weekend.
Alabama @ Tennessee, FRI 5-4 UT, SUN G1 2-1 UT/7, SUN G2 3-0 UT/7
Shocker #1 of the weekend, Tennessee take all 3 from Alabama, all be it at home. I expected 1, maybe 2 wins by the Vols this weekend but to take all 3 was pushing it. Well done and now the Tide finds themselves at 1-5 in the conference very quickly out of the gate. Definitely something to watch going forward.
South Carolina @ Georgia, FRI 7-5 UGA, SAT 12-3 UGA, SUN 3-0 UGA
Shocker #2 of the weekend here, Georgia takes all 3 from South Carolina and finds themselves tied for the best conference record in the conference with Vandy. Who had that at the beginning of the season? Sure, you could say they took 2 of 3 from maybe the bad team in the league, but sweeping South Carolina isn’t something to just shrug aside. That is a very impressive weekend for the Dawgs as they are starting to show major signs of life in Athens for the first time in a long time.
Mississippi State @ Missouri, FRI 4-1 MIZ, SAT 3-1 MSU, SUN 5-4 MIZ/11
You have to feel for Mississippi State, it must feel like they have already played a season and now they are 1-5 in conference play. It isn’t that they don’t have talent or don’t have a coach that can lead them to the promise land, it’s just so tough to put it all together when the leadership at the top changes in the middle of the season. Fantastic win for Mizzou as they look to continue their statement this weekend on the Plains.
The Tigers return to their home state to take on Alabama in Montgomery for the Capital City Classic. It won’t count as a conference game but it is still a very important confidence game for both teams as they are both coming off of series losses. Following that, the Tigers return to Plainsman Park for a tilt against a tough Missouri team that is coming off of an impressive series win over Mississippi State. This is a series Auburn should win and hopes to sweep to make up for that Friday night loss in Lexington last week. Steal wins when you can! They will pay dividends in late May.