Friday recap: Alabama bombs Arkansas, Vandy's Rocker fans 14

 Barry Allen and Chris Lee   in Baseball

Alabama made a huge statement with a 16-1 win over No. 1 Arkansas in the SEC opener in Fayetteville. Ole Miss right hander Gunnar Hoglund out-dueled Auburn right hander Cody Greenhill in a classic pitcher’s duel in Oxford. A trio of Florida freshmen helped the Gators clinch a series win over Texas A&M. Here is a look at Friday night’s SEC baseball action. 


Alabama made a huge statement with a 16-1 win over No. 1 Arkansas in the SEC opener in Fayetteville. Ole Miss right hander Gunnar Hoglund out-dueled Auburn right hander Cody Greenhill in a classic pitcher’s duel in Oxford. A trio of Florida freshmen helped the Gators clinch a series win over Texas A&M. Here is a look at Friday night’s SEC baseball action. 

TEAM OF THE DAY:

Alabama made the biggest splash on Friday night with a 16-1 win over No. 1 Arkansas. The Crimson Tide scored 10 runs in the second inning and cruised to the win. The Crimson Tide is 1-0 in the SEC for the first time since 2016. The 16 runs scored are the most by Alabama in an SEC opener since a 20-1 win over Tulane in 1958.

GAME OF THE DAY:

Ole Miss right hander Gunnar Hogland and Auburn right hander Cody Greenhill combined for 15 scoreless innings and 17 strikeouts in an epic pitcher’s duel at Swayze Field. Hoglund struck out 13 over eight scoreless innings for the win. Greenhill added seven scoreless innings and struck out four in the no decision. Ole Miss freshman Calvin Harris hit a pinch-hit home run with one out in the eighth inning for the lone run of the game.

PLAYER OF THE DAY:

Tennessee senior shortstop Liam Spence had a memorable SEC debut at Foley Field. Spence hit a leadoff home run on the third pitch of the game to lead the Volunteers to an 11-6 series opening win at Georgia. He finished 3-for-4 with three runs scored, one double, one home run and four RBIs in his first career SEC start. In addition to his first-inning home run, he drew bases-loaded walks the fourth and sixth innings and added an RBI double in the eighth. He reached base five times in six plate appearances in the series opener.

PITCHER OF THE DAY:

Vanderbilt right hander Kumar Rocker struck out 14 batters in eight innings in the series-opening win over South Carolina. The Gamecocks scored two runs off Rocker in the sixth inning, the first two runs he has allowed this season. He took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before a one-out single by South Carolina first baseman David Mendham. Rocker had at least one strikeout in all eight innings and capped his night by striking out the side in the eighth inning.

FRIDAY RECAPS:

Alabama 16, Arkansas 1 (Fayetteville)

Records: Alabama (15-3, 1-0 SEC); Arkansas (12-3, 0-1 SEC)

Series: Alabama leads, 1-0

Alabama made a huge statement with a 16-1 win over No. 1 Arkansas in the SEC opener in Fayetteville. The Crimson Tide sent 15 batters to the plate in a 10-run second inning to take all the suspense out of the game early. UA shortstop Jim Jarvis started the scoring with an RBI single. Alabama got bases-loaded walks from second baseman Peyton Wilson and left fielder William Hamiter, and a ground out from catcher Sam Praytor. The rally continued with two-run double from first baseman Drew Williamson and RBI single from third baseman Zane Denton. UA designated hitter Owen Diodati capped the inning with a mammoth two-run home run to right-center field.

All nine starters had at least one RBI and seven of the nine starters had at least one hit. The Crimson Tide finished the night with 15 hits, including home runs by Diodati, right fielder Andrew Pinckney, center fielder Caden Rose and backup outfielder Jackson Tate.

Tyler Ras and Connor Shamblin controlled things on the mound. Ras pitched six innings for the win and Shamblin earned the save with three innings.

Arkansas starter Peyton Pallette struggled with control and exited the game in the second inning. UA used three pitchers in the 10-run second inning. Right hander Patrick Wicklander saved the Razorbacks bullpen with 5 1/3 innings in relief. At one point he retired 13 straight Alabama hitters.

After starting the season with 12 straight wins, Arkansas has now lost three in a row.

Ole Miss 1, Auburn 0 (Oxford)

Records: Ole Miss (14-4, 1-0); Auburn (11-6, 0-1 SEC)

Series: Ole Miss leads, 1-0

Hoglund fired eight scoreless innings and struck out 13 batters as the Rebels defeated Auburn 1-0 in a classic pitcher’s duel in Oxford. Hoglund limited the Tigers to five hits and walked only one batter for his third win of the season.

Ole Miss pinch hitter Calvin Harris blasted a solo home run on a 1-2 pitch in the bottom of the eighth inning for the lone run of the game.

Auburn only threatened twice in the game. The Tigers two runners on base with two outs in the first inning, but Hoglund got a strikeout to end threat.

The Tigers had runners and second and third with no outs in the seventh inning but could not push a run across. Third baseman Rankin Woley stroked a leadoff double and first baseman Tyler Miller followed with a walk.  A passed ball moved both runners into scoring position.

Hoglund turned it up another notch and struck out the next three batters to escape the jam.

The Rebels posted its first 1-0 win since beating Texas A&M on May 23, 2019. Ole Miss has won nine straight 1-0 games with its last loss coming to Wright State in a rain-shortened game on Feb. 24, 2007.

Ole Miss has won 10 straight games against Auburn a Swayze Field.

Vanderbilt 3, South Carolina 2 (Nashville)

Records: Vanderbilt (14-2, 1-0 SEC); South Carolina (11-5, 0-1 SEC)

Series: Vanderbilt leads, 1-0

South Carolina did something no one else has done all year: score an earned run off Kumar Rocker. And actually, the Gamecocks scored two. But still, Rocker and the Commodores prevailed by a 3-2 score in a well-played, contested game highlighted by 30 strikeouts by both sides.

Carolina starting pitcher Thomas Farr was pretty good, too, until Vanderbilt strung together four straight hits in the fifth to take a 2-0 lead. The Gamecocks battled back in the top of the sixth to tie, but Vandy's Cooper Davis had an RBI single in the seventh to provide the winning run. 

Vanderbilt closer Luke Murphy, back off a Covid-19 tracing quarantine, struck out the side around a four-pitch walk to Wes Clarke to get the save. As for Carolina's hitting superstar, the Commodores pitched around him with success (he was 0-for-2 with two walks) as Carolina managed just three hits.

Afterwards, Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said the Commodores have starting first baseman Dominic Keegan on the 30-man roster this weekend. Keegan hit .548/.659/1.290 across 10 games before also being sidelined due to Covid-19 testing. Corbin said it was a possibility that Keegan would play on Sunday.

Mississippi State 6, LSU 1 (Baton Rouge)

Records: Mississippi State (15-3, 1-0 SEC); LSU (15-4, 0-1 SEC)

Series: MSU leads, 1-0

Mississippi State proved that good pitching beats good hitting on Friday night at Alex Box Stadium.

MSU left hander Christian MacLeod and right hander Brandon Smith limited the Tigers to one run and four hits in the SEC opener. The duo combined for 12 strikeouts. MacLeod allowed one run and three hits with nine strikeouts in six innings for the win. Smith worked the final three innings with three strikeouts for the save.

LSU entered the game with a league-leading 33 home runs, but managed only one extra-base hit in the loss.  The Tigers six-game winning streak also came to an end. 

MSU left fielder Brayland Skinner went 3-for-3 with one home run and three RBIs in his first career start. He broke a scoreless tie with a two-run homer off LSU ace Jaden Hill in the fifth inning. Skinner added an RBI single in the seventh inning.

Florida 3, Texas A&M 1 (Gainesville)

Records: Florida (15-5, 2-0 SEC); Texas A&M (15-6, 0-2 SEC)

Series: Florida leads, 2-0

For the second straight night, a trio of Florida freshmen played a huge role in the Gators win over Texas A&M.

Right fielder Sterlin Thompson, third baseman Colby Halter and catcher Mac Guscette combined for five of the Gators eight hits in the 3-1 series-clinching win over the Aggies. Halter was 2-for-3 with one run scored. Guscette went 2-for-3 with one RBI. Thompson was 1-for-2 with one RBI.

UF starter Jack Leftwich dominated on the mound. He limited the Aggies to one run on three hits in seven innings to improve to 4-0 on the season. Over his last two starts, Leftwich has only allowed five hits in 13 innings. He lowered his ERA to 1.71 and has held opponents to just a .144 batting average in his five starts this year.

First baseman Will Frizzell hit a solo home run for the Aggies the sixth inning.

Tennessee 11, Georgia 6 (Athens)

Records: Tennessee (16-3, 1-0 SEC); Georgia (13-4, 0-1 SEC)

Series: Tennessee leads, 1-0

Tennessee senior shortstop Liam Spence had a memorable SEC debut at Foley Field. Spence hit a leadoff home run on the third pitch of the game to lead the Volunteers to an 11-6 series opening win at Georgia.

He finished 3-for-4 with three runs scored, one double, one home run and four RBIs in his first career SEC start. In addition to his first-inning home run, he drew bases-loaded walks the fourth and sixth innings and added an RBI double in the eighth. He reached base five times in six plate appearances in the series opener.

The Vols raced out to a 9-0 lead after scoring six runs in the fourth inning. UT third baseman Jake Rucker smacked a grand slam to highlight the six-run frame. It was UT’s third grand slam of the season. Rucker finished with a game-high five RBIs.

Kentucky 10, Missouri 2 (Lexington)

Records: Kentucky (12-3, 1-0 SEC); Missouri (7-11, 0-1 SEC)

Series: Kentucky leads, 1-0

Kentucky opened the SEC slate at home for the first time since 2012 and responded with seven runs in the first two innings in the blowout win over Missouri.

UK catcher Coltyn Kessler reached base in all five plate appearances, including three hits and two walks.

He was one of five UK players with a multi-hit game. Centerfielder Austin Schultz, left fielder Oraj Anu, first baseman TJ Collett and designated hitter Trae Harmon all had two hits. Anu, Collett, Harmon and second baseman Chase Estep all had two RBIs.

UK right-hander Cole Strupp struck out 10 batters in seven innings for his third win. UK pitchers combined for 15 strikeouts against the Tigers.