Monday recap: The SEC goes 6-0
Barry Allen and Chris Lee • 2/22/2021 in Baseball
The SEC wins three more against the Big 12, and Vanderbilt allows one run in a doubleheader
The SEC comes up huge in Texas
The SEC proved once again it’s the best conference in college baseball.
The SEC Western Division proved it’s the best division in any college sport.
Arkansas, Ole Miss and Miss. State posted an 8-1 record against ranked Big 12 foes TCU, Texas and Texas in the State Farm College Baseball showdown at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Ole Miss and Arkansas won all three games, while Miss. State posted a 2-1 record. TCU’s 3-2 win over MSU was the only blemish on the SEC record.
Ole Miss had an impressive showing this weekend, capped by its dominating 8-1 win over Texas. The Rebels broke a 1-1 tie with four runs in the top of the sixth inning, highlighted by Justin Bench’s two-run single.
Ole Miss tacked on three more runs in the ninth. Trey LaFleur hit a solo home run and Jacob Gonzalez added an RBI triple. Ole Miss second baseman Peyton Chatagnier ripped three doubles in the win but, according to reports left the game in the seventh inning with an injury.
Sophomore Derek Diamond was dominant on the mound as he held Texas to one run on three hits through six innings. He added eight strikeouts. The Rebels have won all five games Diamond has started the last two seasons.
Ole Miss has won 19 straight games dating back to last season and for the first time in the 40-year history of the poll was ranked No. 1 in the Baseball America rankings on Monday.
Arkansas capped a perfect weekend with a 4-1 win over TCU in the tournament finale Monday night. The Razorbacks rallied to beat Texas Tech 13-9 on Saturday and blanked Texas 4-0 on Sunday. The Razorbacks rallied to beat the Horned Frogs on Monday, scoring all four runs in the final two innings.
Arkansas scored twice in the eighth inning to take a 2-1 lead. Christian Franklin put the Hogs on the board with a RBI triple and scored the go-ahead run on Cullen Smith’s RBI single.
Arkansas added two more runs in the ninth when Casey Opitz laced an RBI double and later scored on a wild pitch.
The Arkansas bullpen tossed 4 2/3 scoreless innings and struck out 10 batters. Ryan Costieu picked up the win and Kevin Kopps earned the save with five strikeouts in two scoreless frames.
The Razorbacks won in a variety of ways in Arlington. The Hogs had two come-from-behind wins against Tech and TCU, out-slugged Texas Tech and defeated Texas and TCU with pitching and defense.
Mississippi State wrapped up successful weekend with an 11-5 win over Texas Tech. The Bulldogs scored six runs in its final two at-bats for the win.
MSU snapped a 5-5 tie with a run in the eighth inning to take a 6-5 lead. Scotty Dubrule’s infield hit chased home Logan Tanner with the go-ahead run. The Bulldogs stretched the lead to 11-5 with five runs in the ninth. Rowdey Jordan had an RBI triple and Kamren James, Josh Hatcher and Luke Hancock all had RBI singles. Hancock smacked a two-run homer in the sixth to give State a short-lived 5-4 lead.
Hancock, Hatcher and Jordan paced MSU at the plate all weekend. Hancock hit a team-best .583 (7-for-12) with two home runs and five RBIs. Hatcher batted .385 (5-for-13) and knocked in three runs. Jordan hit two home runs and led the team with six RBIs.
On the mound, MSU did not have a starter that worked more than four innings, so the bullpen saw a heavy load of work. Landon Sims was the star with four perfect innings (10 K) in relief, including escaping a bases-loaded, no-out situation with three straight strikeouts vs. Texas. The rest of the pen worked 12 2/3 innings and allowed nine earned runs and 12 walks. MSU walked 10 batters in the win over Texas Tech on Monday.
Vanderbilt sweeps doubleheader with Wright State
Vanderbilt had its Friday, Saturday and Sunday games with Wright State postponed, leaving the teams with two chances to play Monday to try to salvage that series. Fortunately, two nine-inning games were played at Nashville's Hawkins Field on Monday, and the Commodore team that was picked from third to sixth in the national polls was the one that showed up in Vandy's doubleheader sweep.
Everyone figured that pitching will be the Commodores' strength, and two games in, the staff has allowed one run in 18 innings with eight walks and 31 strikeouts. Starters Kumar Rocker (four shutout innings, eight strikeouts) and Jack Leiter (five shutout innings, eight Ks) performed as expected. Six other Commodores threw with the highlight being one perfect (and quite electric) three-strikeout performance from Luke Murphy.
Vanderbilt banged out 10 extra-base hits in the doubleheader, though some of those were cheap ones that Wright State defenders lost in the sun. What wasn't cheap were the home runs that Jayson Gonzalez and Isaiah Thomas hit.
Gonzalez's return was one of the highlights for Vandy; after missing all last year, the fourth-year player battled to win the Opening Day job at third. He reached base five times in the doubleheader.
LSU offense comes alive in late innings
Trailing 6-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning, LSU erupted for 14 runs over its final three at-bats to post a 16-7 come-from-behind win over Louisiana Tech.
The Tigers scored five runs in the sixth inning, highlighted by back-to-back home runs from Gavin Dugas and Jordan Thompson. With one out, LSU posted five straight two-out hits to take the first lead of the game.
Cade Beloso, Zach Arnold and Mitchell Sanford loaded the bases with three straight singles. Dugas then launched the first pitch over the left field wall to tie the game at 6-6. Thomas smacked a 3-1 pitch into the left field seats to give the Tigers a 7-6 lead.
LSU added four more runs in the seventh without benefit of a hit to extend the lead. The Tigers took advantaged of two errors and a pair of walk to push the lead to 11-6. LSU plated five more runs in the eighth to go up 16-6. The big blow in the inning was Jake Wyeth’s three-run double.
LSU has scored 23 of its 27 runs this season in the fifth inning or later. The Tigers scored five of the six runs in the season opener with Air Force in the fifth inning or later. LSU scored three of its five runs in the final two innings in the loss to Air Force on Sunday.
Dylan Crews and Arnold are a combined 11-for-22 (.500) in the first three games, with six runs scored, three home runs and seven RBIs.
The SEC has eight non-conference games on tap Tuesday, including Kentucky’s season opener with Miami (Ohio). The Wildcats are the last SEC team to open the season. UK was supposed to have opened the season this past weekend at North Carolina, but Covid issues around the UK program cancelled that series in Chapel Hill.
Ole Miss after playing three straight days in Arlington is schedule to play its home opener against Arkansas State. Miss. State’s home opener with Jackson State has been pushed back one day to Wednesday.
Vanderbilt's scheduled Tuesday game with Western Kentucky has also been pushed back to Wednesday.