Friday recap: Gators top Miami in new park, and more

 Barry Allen   in Baseball

Amidst the cancellations, half the league played on Friday as the SEC went 5-2 on Opening Day

Gators top Miami, again

No. 1 Florida christened its $61 million ballpark with a 7-5 win over in-state rival Miami to open the 2021 college baseball season. The Gators continued their dominance over the Hurricanes while showing off its new digs on the SEC Network. Florida is 16-3 in the last 19 games with Miami, including a 6-game winning streak.

 Freshman catcher Nathan Hickey delivered the first hit and home run in Florida Ballpark with a two-out moonshot to right field in the bottom of the first inning. He added a two-out RBI double to give the Gators a 4-1 lead.

 Miami rallied with four runs in the ninth, but junior right-handed pitcher Franco Aleman shut the door with two outs in six pitches and earned a save in his Gators debut.

 Florida left fielder Jacob Young went 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 19 straight games. Young’s hitting streak dates back to the 2019 Lubbock Regional, when the Gators faced Army on June 1, 2019. Young’s hitting streak has spanned 630 calendar days.

Tennessee's Dallas flirts with no-no

Tennessee right-hander Chad Dallas flirted with history on Friday night at Georgia Southern. The right-hander fired 6 1/3 no-hit innings in the Vols 5-3 win over the Eagles. 

Dallas had four three-up, three-down innings in the win. After he retired GSU catcher Matt Anderson to open the seventh inning, Dallas lost the no-hitter and shutout when DH Noah Ledford homered down the right field line. Jason Swan followed with a single and Christin Avant added an RBI double to chase 

Dallas from the mound. Dallas allowed two runs and two hits in 6 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts and one walk in the win. 

 Tennessee right fielder Jordan Beck led the offense with two hits and three RBIs. He stroked a two-run double in the first inning and added a solo home run in the fifth inning.

Alabama's  Prelipp extends scoreless streak

Alabama left-hander Connor Prielipp continued his dominance on the mound with five scoreless innings in the Crimson Tide’s 10-6 win over McNeese. The Tomah, Wis., native has not allowed a run in 26 innings in his collegiate career. He fired 21 scoreless innings in four starts last season before the pandemic. 

Prelipp limited the Cowboys to four hits over five innings with eight strikeouts and no walks. He yielded back-to-back one-out hits in the first inning but stranded a runner at third base with a strike out and ground out. After he allowed a two-out base hit in the second inning, he retired seven straight McNeese hitters, including striking out the side in the fourth inning. He threw 74 pitches, including 49 strikes in the win.

Connor Prelipp Alabama
Alabama's Connor Prelipp was excellent on Opening Day.

 Alabama scored its 10 runs in the odd-numbered innings, including a five-run burst in the seventh inning. The Tide had nine hits and took advantaged of five walks, two hit batters and one error in the win. 

Catcher Sam Praytor (2-4, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI and second baseman Peyton Wilson (2-4, 3 R, 2B, HR, RBI) both homered in the win. Wilson’s first career homer was a solo shot to lead off the fifth inning. First baseman Drew Williamson added three hits and three RBIs for the 'Tide.

 Right hander Tyler Ras struggled out of the bullpen for the Tide. He allowed six earned runs and seven hits in three innings. McNeese scored three runs in the both the sixth and eighth innings off Ras.

Dynamic due carries Gamecocks 

South Carolina junior designated hitter Wes Clarke and first baseman Brandon Eyster combined for six hits, two home runs and eight RBIs in the Gamecocks 15-1 win over Dayton. 

 Clarke reached base in all five plate appearances going 3-for-3 with three runs scored, one double, one home run, four RBIs and two walks. Clarke belted a three-run home run to dead center in the first inning, giving him nine homers in 59 at-bats over the last two seasons. He walked in the third and fourth innings, singled in the sixth and doubled in the eighth.

 Eyster reached base four times, including a grand slam in the third inning to extend the Gamecocks' lead to 7-0. He tripled and scored in the fifth, singled in the sixth and walked and scored in the eighth inning.

Four is Auburn's lucky number 

 The number four played a huge role in Auburn’s 14-3 season-opening win over Presbyterian. The Tigers offense plated four runs in the second, sixth and seventh innings at Plainsman Park. 

 AU left fielder Judd Ward led the Tigers with four hits and four runs scored. Ward smacked a 2-run home run in the second, doubled and scored in the fourth, singled and scored in the sixth and singled and scored in the seventh. AU DH Bryson Ware and third baseman Rankin Woley both finished with four RBIs. Ware had a two-run double in the fourth inning. Woley capped the scoring with a three-run homer in the seventh for the Tigers.

Georgia, Missouri stumble 

Georgia and Missouri both had tough starts to the 2021 season.

 Georgia dropped a 3-2 home game to Evansville. The Purple Aces scored all three runs with two outs. 

Georgia stranded the tying run at third base in the eighth inning. The top of the Evansville batting order went 6-for-13 with two runs scored and one RBI. The top of the Georgia batting order went 2-for-16 with one RBI in the loss.

 Missouri suffered an 11-3 loss at Grand Canyon in Phoenix. The Antelopes led 3-0 but broke open the tight game with an 8-run sixth inning to take an 11-0 lead. GCU left fielder Ryland Zaborowski and right fielder Tayler Aguliar combined for four runs, six hits and six RBIs in the win. 

GCU right-hander Zack Barnes handcuffed Mizzou through six innings. He limited the Tigers to two hits and struck out 10 batters. 

Half the league postponed 

Arkansas, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss, Miss. State, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt all had their season openers postponed on Friday. 

Arkansas, Ole Miss and Miss. State are all playing at the State Farm College Baseball Showdown at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas. The teams were supposed to open play on Friday but weather pushed the tournament back one day. The teams will not play Saturday, Sunday and Monday at the home of the Texas Rangers.

 LSU and Texas A&M had their season openers pushed back one day due to weather. 

LSU is playing Air Force and Louisiana Tech his weekend in Baton Rouge. Notre Dame was also scheduled to play in Baton Rouge this weekend, but had to cancel due to Covid issues.  

Texas A&M will host Xavier in a double header on Saturday and single game Sunday.

 Vanderbilt and Wright State did not play on Friday and the two teams will not play on Saturday due to weather issues. The game times for the series will be determined after evaluating field conditions. The series is currently scheduled to conclude on Monday.

 Kentucky’s season-opening series at North Carolina was canceled due to Covid issues within the UK program.

Polk's 55-year streak ends 

For the first time since 1966, former Georgia Southern, Miss. State and Georgia head coach Ron Polk was not in a dugout wearing a uniform on Opening Day. Polk currently serves as Special Assistant to MSU Director of Athletics John Cohen

Polk won more than 1,300 games at Georgia Southern, MSU and Georgia (2000-01). He took all three teams to the College World Series. Polk was a volunteer assistant coach at UAB from 2009-2020.