The 15 best SEC baseball teams that didn't reach the College World Series
Barry Allen • 6/19/2021 in Baseball
The SEC has three teams playing in the College World Series this season. Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Miss. State all have their eye on winning the national championship. Vanderbilt is the defending champion.
The overall No. 1 seed Arkansas fell at home to North Carolina State in the Super Regionals last weekend ending a dominant run during the 2021 season.
The SEC has plenty of other teams that were Omaha-worthy, but just missed out on the College World Series.
Southeastern14.com takes a look at the 14 best SEC teams that failed to reach Omaha.
(1) Texas A&M (1989)
Record: 58-7 (17-4 SWC)
This is likely the best team in college baseball history that didn’t reach the College World Series. The Aggies were not in the SEC at the time, but this is their best team.
The SWC co-champions had three All-Americans John Byington, Chuck Knoblauch and Terry Taylor.
The Aggies scored 65 runs and steamrolled Jackson State, BYU and South Alabama to reach the finals.
LSU defeated UNLV and South Alabama on Saturday to reach the championship game on Sunday. The Tigers had to beat the Aggies twice to go to the CWS.
LSU coach Skip Bertman wouldn’t let his team watch A&M during the tournament.
The master motivator had his team ready and the Tigers, behind Ben McDonald, Curtis Leskanic and seldom used Pat Garrity, shocked the Aggies.
McDonald got the win in game one and the save in game two. Leskanic was the winning pitcher in game two. Garrity, who had less than 50 at-bats, drove in what proved to be the winning run with a double.
It was a dark day for the Aggies.
Many people believe that Sunday in College Station catapulted LSU into success in the 1990s.
LSU won four national titles from 1991-97 and that Sunday at Olsen Field was the jump start.
(2) Vanderbilt (2013)
Record: 54-12 (26-3 SEC)
*No. 2 National Seed
The Commodores set the SEC record by going an astonishing 26-3 in SEC play. Vandy won all 10 SEC series, including seven series sweeps.
The 26 wins broke the record of 25 wins set by South Carolina in 2000.
Tony Kemp and Tyler Beede were named first-team All-Americans. Kemp was the SEC Player of the Year. Carson Fulmer and Xavier Turner were Freshman All-Americans. Giants outfielder Mike Yastzemski was the team's regular right-fielder while Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler was also a key arm on that team.
After winning the regular season title, Vanderbilt lost to LSU in the SEC Championship game in 11 innings.
Vanderbilt was the No. 2 national seed and won the Nashville Regional, defeating ETSU, Illinois and Georgia Tech. Vandy lost to Tech 5-0, but rebounded for a 7-1 win in the if necessary game.
That set the stage for the Vandy-Louisville Super Regional in Nashville.
In a battle of Top 10 teams, and two of the nation’s top pitching staffs, Louisville won 5-3 and 2-1 to end the Commodores' record-breaking season.
(3) South Carolina (2000)
Record: 56-10 (25-5 SEC)
*No. 1 National Seed
The Gamecocks blitzed through the SEC with a remarkable 25-5 record, which included a SEC 17-game winning streak. The 25 wins also set the single-season SEC record.
One of the nation’s top pitching staffs was anchored by the “Killer Bs”.
Kip Bouknight, Peter Bauer and Scott Barber were a combined 39-5 with 15 saves. The trio recorded 342 strikeouts in 374 2/3 innings. Bouknight (17-1) set the school record with 17 wins.
The offense featured six double figure home run hitters, led by Tripp Kelly’s 22 homers. The Gamecocks smacked 105 home runs.
South Carolina was the overall No. 1 national seed entering the NCAA Tournament.
The Gamecocks defeated Liberty and Wake Forest to win the Columbia Regional.
The Gamecocks then faced UL Lafayette, who won the Lafayette Regional as the No. 2 seed
South Carolina opened the Super Regional with a 6-3 win to move within one win of Omaha.
The Gamecocks dropped the next two games to the Ragin’ Cajuns and fell one game shy of the CWS.
(4) Vanderbilt (2007)
Record: 54-13 (22-8 SEC)
*No. 1 National Seed
Michigan freshman Alan Oaks hit a pinch-hit home run in the 10th inning off David Price to send Michigan to a 4-3 win and the school’s first trip to the Super Regionals.
Price, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the MLB Draft, ended his brilliant college career by giving up a home run on his final collegiate pitch.
That Commodore team also had future first-round picks in third baseman Pedro Alvarez, Mike Minor, Ryan Flaherty and Casey Weathers. All but Weathers played several years in the Majors, and Minor and Price are still playing.
Vanderbilt suffered two, 1-run losses to the Wolverines in the regional.
Michigan advanced to meet Oregon State in the Corvallis Super Regional. The Beavers won the Charlottesville Regional as the No. 3 seed.
OSU swept Michigan and then won all five games in Omaha to secure its second-straight National Championship. OSU beat North Carolina in both 2006 and 2007.
(5) Tennessee (1994)
Record: 52-14 (24-5 SEC)
The Volunteers got off to a slow start, losing all three games to open the season at Miami and then dropped a 2-game midweek series to Clemson.
Tennessee started 3-3 in SEC play after a series win over Arkansas and series loss to Auburn. The Vols swept Alabama in week three to move to 6-3.
After a series-opening loss to Kentucky in week four, the Vols went on a tear winning its final 14 SEC games. The streak was extended to 17 straight wins in the SEC Eastern Division Tournament before losing to Vanderbilt. The Vols rebounded to win the SEC East Tournament with a 6-3 win over the Commodores.
Tennessee hosted the NCAA Regional and defeated Northeastern and Western Carolina before falling to Arizona State. After a win over NC State, the Vols lost again to ASU ending the historic season.
Todd Helton was named All-American in 1994 as a standout two-way player. R.A. Dickey was a Freshman All-American.
Helton and Dickey were the catalysts for the 1995 team that won the SEC and reached the CWS.
(6) Mississippi State (1989)
Record: 54-14 (20-5 SEC)
MSU won its third SEC Championship in five years and 10th in school history.
The Bulldogs clinched the title with a 28-16 win at Kentucky. MSU had a school record 30 hits in the win. All-SEC outfielder Tracy Echols tied the SEC record with six hits in the game.
MSU was ranked No. 1 in the polls during the season and hosted an NCAA Regional for the fifth time in six years.
Miss. State led the SEC with a .335 batting average and Jody Hurst paced the league with 79 runs scored.
Tommy Raffo, Burke Masters and Hurst were First-Team All-SEC selections. Pete Young and Barry Winford were Second-Team All-SEC picks.
The Bulldogs opened the tournament with wins over Western Carolina and Nicholls State before dropping a 2-1 decision to No. 2 seed North Carolina.
Miss. State defeated Indiana State and then beat North Carolina 6-0 on Sunday afternoon to force the "if-necessary" game. The Tar Heels won that game 7-1 ending MSU’s season.
(7) Arkansas (2021)
Record: 50-13 (22-8 SEC)
*No. 1 National Seed
Arkansas became the second team in SEC history to win all 10 conference series.
The Razorbacks also swept through the SEC Tournament to win the school’s first post season tournament since the 1985 SWC Tournament.
The consensus No. 1 team in the nation landed the top-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The Razorbacks led the nation in home runs and the pitching staff was led by National and SEC Pitcher of the Year Kevin Kopps.
Arkansas won the Fayetteville Regional, including a decisive seventh game win over Nebraska. Kopps was named the MVP after throwing 185 pitches in three appearances.
The Razorbacks then met NC State in the Super Regional and got off to a fast start with a 21-2 win in the opener.
NC State rebounded with a 6-5 win in game two and shocked the baseball world with a 3-2 win in game three.
NC State shortstop Jose Torres hit the game-winning home run off Kopps in the ninth inning.
Kopps final collegiate pitch was a home run, similar to Vandy’s David Price in 2007.
(8) Alabama (2006)
Record: 44-21 (20-10 SEC)
*No. 4 National Seed
The SEC Champions lineup featured five future Major League players.
The pitching staff had Wade LeBlanc (11-1, 2.92 ERA), Tommy Hunter (10-3, 3.30 ERA) and David Robertson (4-4, 10 Saves, 3.02 ERA). Third baseman Matt Downs (.298, 7 HR, 62 RBI) and designated hitter Alex Avila (.271, 5 HR, 42 RBI) were everyday starters.
Alabama won its first SEC regular season championship since 1996 and was the No. 4 national seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Crimson Tide swept through the Tuscaloosa Regional with wins over Jacksonville State (13-1) and Troy (4-3 and 14-5).
The Crimson Tide was paired up with the Chapel Hill Regional winner the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Tar Heels defeated Maine (15-7) and Winthrop (14-4 and 14-2) to set up the battle of Top 10 teams in Tuscaloosa.
North Carolina brought three future first-round draft picks to town and swept the Crimson Tide in two games.
Andrew Miller, the sixth over selection in the MLB Draft by the Detroit Tigers, defeated the Tide 11-5 in the opener. Mike Cavasinni tied the stadium record with five hits for the Tar Heels. LeBlanc started for Alabama and suffered his only loss of the season. He was taken in the second round by the San Diego Padres.
Daniel Bard (UNC) and Hunter matched up in game two and neither was involved in the decision. UNC third baseman Chad Flack and Avila traded home runs over the final four innings, before Flack’s walk-off against Robertson ended the Tide’s season and sent the Tar Heels back to Omaha.
UNC reached the CWS Finals and lost to Oregon State. The Beavers also beat the Tar Heels in the 2007 CWS Finals.
(T9) Mississippi State (1983)
Record: 42-15 (17-5)
(T9) Mississippi State (1984)
Record: 45-16 (18-5)
The 1983 and 1984 MSU baseball teams missed out on the College World Series, but laid the foundation for the 1985 squad that made a deep run in Omaha.
Will Clark and Rafael Palmeiro burst onto the scene for the Bulldogs in 1983, both earning Freshman All-American accolades.
The 1983 team won the SEC Western Division and hosted the SEC Tournament. Alabama won the SEC Tournament and were the 1983 SEC Champions.
Miss. State was the No. 4 seed in the NCAA Central Regional in Austin, Texas, where the No. 1 ranked Longhorns served as host. MSU played No. 3 seed Tulane, a team ranked in the Top 10 the majority of the season, in the first round. State beat Tulane, Texas and UT Pan American in the six-team event and entered Sunday just one win away from Omaha.
Texas beat MSU 7-0 in the first game and 12-3 in the if necessary game to end the Bulldogs season one game short of Omaha.
The Texas lineup featured Roger Clemens, Calvin Schiraldi, Mike Capel and Billy Bates. The Longhorns moved on to Omaha and beat Alabama 4-3 to win the National Championship.
MSU hosted the 1984 NCAA South II Regional at Dudy Noble Field.
The Bulldogs dropped the opener to South Carolina, 4-1.
After the first-round loss, MSU rebounded to win its three games with New Orleans, Eastern Kentucky and South Carolina to reach the championship game. New Orleans then ousted MSU 6-3 in the finals to advance to the CWS.
So for the second year, MSU came up one game short of Omaha.
The 1983 and 1984 teams set the foundation for the team’s great run to Omaha in 1985.
(11) Texas A&M (2016)
Record: 49-16 (20-10 SEC)
*No. 4 National Seed
Texas A&M won its first SEC Tournament championship and carried that momentum into the NCAA Tournament.
The Aggies entered the post season ranked No.1 in the polls after knocking off previous No. 1 Florida in the SEC Championship Game.
Texas A&M swept Binghamton, Wake Forest and Minnesota to win the College Station Regional. The Aggies pounded Wake Forest 22-2 in the winner’s bracket final on Saturday.
For the second straight year, Texas A&M met TCU in the NCAA Super Regional. The Horned Frogs won an epic series in Fort Worth in 2015 to advance to Omaha, so the Aggies were looking to even the score.
The No. 11 Horned Frogs posted an 8-2 win in the series opener. The Aggies rebounded for a 7-1 win to even the series the next day. Like 2015, TCU won the decisive game three with a 4-2 win and another trip to the CWS.
For the second straight year, Texas A&M ended its season with a loss to TCU and one game shy of the CWS.
(12) Alabama (2002)
Record: 51-15 (20-10 SEC)
*No. 3 National Seed
A senior laded team fell short of the SEC regular-season championship and then fell short of a trip to the College World Series.
The core of the team were freshmen on the Crimson Tide’s last CWS team in 1999. The lineup featured Peter Stonard, Beau Hearod, Travis Garner, Jeremy Brown, Scott McClanahan, Brent Boyd and Adam Pavkovich. Lance Cormier and Taylor Tankersley both pitched in the big leagues.
Alabama wrapped up the SEC Western Division championship but fell short of the SEC title when the Crimson Tide was swept in the final weekend series at LSU. South Carolina captured the overall SEC title.
The Crimson Tide won the SEC Tournament with a 6-2 win over South Carolina.
Alabama hosted the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional with FAU, Auburn and Southeast Missouri State joining the four-team field.
The Crimson Tide lost to SEMO in the opener, but rebounded with wins over Auburn, SEMO and FAU to force the "if-necessary" game. FAU beat Alabama 6-5 in the finals to advance to the Super Regional against Georgia Tech.
(13) Florida (1981)
Record: 42-17 (16-7 SEC)
The SEC champion’s road traveled through Coral Gables in the NCAA South Regional.
The Gators defeated Alabama, Miss. State and Kentucky to win the 1981 SEC Championship at Dudy Noble Field in Starkville.
The six-team tournament also featured in-state foes Miami and Florida State, as well as Middle, Missouri and Minnesota.
The Gators went 3-5 against the Seminoles and Hurricanes during the regular season. Florida was 2-2 against Florida State and 1-3 against Miami.
Florida dropped its opening game to Florida State, 5-1. The Gators bounced back with three straight wins over Missouri and Middle Tennessee and got a rematch with the Seminoles. UF won that game 5-4 to eliminate FSU. Florida then faced Miami and needed two wins to go to Omaha. Miami ended the drama with an 8-6 win to head to the CWS.
(14) Ole Miss (2005)
Record: 48-20 (18-12 SEC)
*No. 5 National Seed
Ole Miss played in four Super Regionals in five years against Texas, Miami, Arizona State and Virginia.
All four teams were Omaha worthy.
The 2005 team led by Stephen Head, Brian Pettway, Mark Holliman, Chris Coghlan and Zack Cozart may have had the best chance to make it to Omaha and win. Head was a dangerous two-way player.
The Rebels secured a piece of its first SEC Western Division title since 1982, as the Rebels finished the regular season tied with LSU for first place in the SEC West with 18-12 conference marks. Ole Miss also improved to 40-16 overall, tying the school record for wins in a season set by the 1995 team that finished 40-22. The Rebels' 18 SEC wins also tied the school record set in 2004.
Ole Miss defeated Maine and Oklahoma in the Oxford Regional, including a 20-4 drubbing of the Sooners in the championship game.
Ole Miss welcomed Texas to Oxford for the Super Regional and grabbed the series lead with a 6-4 win in game. The Longhorns bounced back to win the next two games to end the Rebels season.
Texas ended up winning the national championship with a series win over Florida in the CWS Finals.
(15) LSU (1975)
Record: 40-16 (19-3 SEC)
The 1975 LSU team was the first to make the NCAA Tournament. LSU won the 1961 SEC Championship to earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, but declined the bid to avoid playing integrated teams.
The Tigers cruised through the SEC going 8-0 against Miss. State, 6-2 against Alabama and 5-1 against Ole Miss.
LSY defeated Georgia in the best-of-three SEC Playoffs to secure the school’s first-ever automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Randy Aldridge delivered the walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning as the Tigers claimed game one with a 6-5 win. Paul Stefan earned the victory, pitching 8.2 innings of relief and striking out 13. LSU goes on to win the series and the SEC title with an 8-3 win over the Bulldogs in Athens.
LSU played in the District III Playoffs (comprised of teams from 11 Southern states) in Starkville, Miss. The Tigers defeated Murray State 7-2 in the opener before losing to Florida State (4-2) and Miami (8-1) to end the magical season.
Other teams considered:
1998 Alabama (46-18, 19-10); 2014 Florida (40-23, 21-9); 2018 Ole Miss (48-17, 18-12) and 2018 Georgia (39-21, 18-12)