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Friday recap: Star pitchers shine, top teams struggle

 Barry Allen   in Baseball

Tommy Mace and Jaden Hill deliver, but Ole Miss, Vandy, Mississippi State and Auburn don't

Jaden Hill photo courtesy of Sierra Beaulieu, LSU athletics

Friday night aces lead LSU, Florida, Vols

A pair of preseason All-Americans turned in dominant performances on the mound.

Florida's Tommy Mace tossed six scoreless innings and struck out 11 as the Gators (4-2) defeated Samford 8-4 in Gainesville. Mace allowed only three hits and retired 18 of the 21 batter he faced. Samford All-Americans second baseman Brooks Carlson and first baseman Sonny Dichiara were a combined 0-for-6 with six strikeouts against the Gators staff.

UF centerfielder Jud Fabian and second baseman Sterlin Thompson led the Gators offense with two hits each. Fabian homered in the bottom of the third to give him three home runs in the last two games. Thompson also scored three runs for the Gators.

LSU's Jaden Hill worked six scoreless frames in the Tigers 5-1 series-opening win over Youngstown State, moving LSU to 4-1. He allowed one hit and fanned four for his second win of the season. 

All six of LSU’s runs in the 6-2 over Youngstown State came via the long ball. Second baseman Cade Doherty, designated hitter Cade Beloso, shortstop Zach Arnold and centerfielder Gavin Dugas all homered in the win. 

Beloso smacked a 2-run homer in the first inning and Doherty added a 2-run homer in the third. Dugas hit a solo home run in the fourth inning and Arnold capped the scoring with a solo home run in the eighth inning. The LSU quartet went a combined 6-for-16 (.375) with four home runs and six RBIs.

Vols lead pack of four unbeatens

Tennessee, Arkansas, South Carolina and Kentucky are the only undefeated teams remaining in the SEC, just eight days into the college baseball season.

Tennessee (6-0) posted its seventh straight win with a 4-3 victory over Indiana State. Tennessee senior Sean Hunley had the relief performance of the night in the SEC. The right-hander worked four perfect innings to earn his second win of the season. Hunley had three strikeouts.

The Vols tallied single runs in the first, third, fourth and sixth innings. Right fielder Jordan Beck went 2-for-3 with one home run and two RBIs. He had a solo home run in the third and added an RBI single in the sixth.

Arkansas (5-0) remained undefeated with a 7-3 win over SE Missouri State. The Razorbacks score four runs in the sixth inning to snap a 2-2 tie for the win. Wallace and Welch both hit two-run home runs in the sixth inning. Wallace’s home run gave the Razorbacks a 4-2 lead. 

Kentucky (2-0) posted its second win of the season with a 10-0 win over Milwaukee. UK rode a 5-run fourth inning to the win. Third baseman Reuben Church went 2-for-4 with two doubles and four RBIs for the Cats. He stroked a two-run double in the second inning. He added an RBI double in the sixth and sac fly in the seventh. 

A trio of UK pitchers--Cole StuppSeth Logue and Austin Strickland--combined on the shutout. Stupp worked four scoreless innings for the win. He allowed four hits, one walk and struck out four.

South Carolina (4-0) was rained out on Friday night and will open its weekend series with Clemson on Saturday at 4 p.m. (ET) at Fluor Field in Greenville.

Four ranked teams upset

Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt all lost their series opener on Friday.

Auburn (5-1) suffered its first loss of the season as Oklahoma posted a 4-3 walk-off win in 10 innings in the opening game at the Round Rock Classic.

Ole Miss (4-1) had its 20-game winning streak snapped with a 3-2 home loss to UCF. The Rebels managed only two runs and seven off a Knights’ pitching staff that entered the game with a 9.29 ERA this season. 

UCF left-hander Colton Gordon limited the Rebels to one run on six hits in seven innings for the win. He walked one and struck out six for his first win of the year. UCF right fielder Jordan Rathborne collected two hits, including a double and solo home run to lead the Knights. He tied the game with a solo home run in the seventh. Josh Crouch hit a solo home run two batters later to give UCF a 2-1 lead. 

Ole Miss got a RBI single from Cael Baker in the fourth inning and solo home run from Hayden Dunhurst in the ninth. Ole Miss starter Doug Nikhazy was the tough-luck loser despite 10 strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.

Mississippi State (3-2) dropped its series opener with Tulane 7-3. The Bulldogs offense was stymied by Tulane starter Braden Olthoff, who allowed two runs and six hits in eight innings for the win. He also recorded six strikeouts. 

MSU also committed four errors, which led to four unearned runs. Tulane three runs in the third and sixth innings for the win. Collin Burns smacked a 2-run home run in the third inning. Jared Hart had an RBI double and Simon Baumgardt had a 2-run single in the sixth. Christian McLeod allowed three unearned runs in four innings and took the loss.

Georgia State shocked Vanderbilt 4-2 in the series opener in Nashville. Tanner Gallman put GSU ahead 2-1 with a solo home run in the fifth inning. Elian Merejo smacked a 2-run homer in the ninth to increase the lead to 4-1.  

Vanderbilt (2-1) starter Thomas Schultz was pressed into the Friday night role after the Commodores played a season-opening double header against Wright State on Monday. He allowed two runs and four hits in four-plus innings. VU designed hitter Parker Noland and centerfielder Enrique Bradfield, Jr., both had one RBI in the loss for the 'Dores, who left 13 men on base.

Tigers, Aggies split in Round Rock

Auburn (5-1) and Texas A&M (3-3) split their two games at the Round Rock Classic. Auburn lost to Oklahoma 4-3 in 10 innings, while Texas A&M cruised past Baylor 12-4 in the nightcap.

Texas A&M had solid performance in the win over Baylor in the finale. The Aggies led 4-1 after four innings and stretched the lead to 9-1 with a 5-run fifth inning. 

First baseman Will Frizzell’s 2-run home run highlighted the inning. He finished 3-for-5 with a home run and two RBIs. Second baseman Bryce Blaum also added three hits. Zane Schmidt and catcher Mikey Hoehner both had two RBIs for A&M

Oklahoma first baseman Tanner Hardman delivered the walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th to give the Sooners the come-from-behind win. Hardman forced extra innings with a game-tying sac fly in the ninth. He finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs.

Auburn led 3-0 after four innings in a pair of solo home runs by Ryan Bliss and Steven Williams.OU scored single runs in the fifth and eighth innings to set up the late inning heroics.

Alabama prevails without Prielipp

Alabama preseason All-American Connor Prielipp will miss the weekend series against Wright State with a “medical condition”. Junior right-hander Tyler Ras replaced him in the weekend rotation and pitched six solid innings for the win. His only blemish was a solo home run by WSU left fielder Alex Alders in the second inning. Ras finished with five strikeouts.

Sophomore second baseman Peyton Wilson, sophomore third baseman Zane Denton and junior T.J. Reeves all delivered solo home runs for the Crimson Tide. Wilson led off the game with a solo home run, his second leadoff home run this season. He had a leadoff at Jacksonville State on Tuesday.

Home run barrage

Arkansas and LSU also rode the long ball to wins on Friday.

All seven of Arkansas’ runs in the 7-3 win over SE Missouri came via the home run. Second baseman Robert Moore, right fielder Cayden Wallace, designated hitter Charlie Welch and preseason All-American centerfielder Christian Franklin all homered for the Razorbacks.

Moore swatted a game-tying, two-run home run in the third inning. Wallace and Welch both hit two-run home runs in the decisive sixth inning. Wallace’s home run gave the Razorbacks a 4-2 lead they never relinquished. Franklin added a solo blast in the eighth inning.

The four Razorbacks were a combined 5-for-16 (.313) with five runs scored, four home runs and seven RBIs.

In all, SEC teams hit 20 home runs on Friday. Arkansas and LSU led the way with four home runs each. Alabama added three (all solo home runs), while Auburn, Missouri and Texas A&M all hit two home runs. Florida, Ole Miss and Tennessee also homered on Friday.

Missouri wins slugfest

Missouri out-slugged Omaha 12-10 in the home opener Friday in Columbia. The Tigers and Mavericks combined for 22 runs and 18 hits in the nearly four-hour game. 

The teams scored 15 of the 22 runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Omaha scored five runs in the top of seventh inning before Mizzou answered with five runs in the bottom of the frame. Omaha scored five more runs in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Missouri shortstop Joshua Day reached base five times with two singles and three walks. He scored three runs. Second baseman Mark Vierling and first baseman Cameron Swanger both homered for the Tigers.

The teams combined to use 12 pitchers in the series opener.

Weekend schedule adjustments

Saturday will be a busy day in the SEC with 19 games on tap around the league.

Georgia, Missouri and Tennessee already had double headers scheduled for Saturday as part of a 4-game weekend series.

The weather has forced some schedule adjustments as well.

The Clemson-South Carolina series opener was postponed due to rain on Friday night. The series will continue as scheduled on Saturday (Fluor Field in Greenville) and Sunday (Founders Park in Columbia). Friday’s game has been rescheduled for May 11 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

Gardner Webb and Georgia were rained out on Friday night and the game will not be made up. The four-game series will now become a three-game series with a double header set for Saturday and single-game on Sunday.

Due to impending weather on Sunday, Wright State and Alabama will now play a double header on Saturday afternoon. The first game will be nine innings, while the second game will be seven innings. With a double header on Saturday, Alabama will have played eight games in the first nine games of the season.

Georgia State and Vanderbilt moved the Saturday start time up one hour to 1 p.m. (CT) due to threat of rain in the Nashville area late in the afternoon.