SEC Championship Race Gets Crowded

This weekend in SEC play did nothing but fog the conference championship picture. South Carolina won two of three games while Florida and Vanderbilt swept, meaning there is now a three-way tie on top of the conference standings.

South Carolina (31-8/14-4 SEC) wins two at Mississippi State (24-16/7-11) - South Carolina ace Michael Roth wasn't sharp on Friday night, but he still went 6.1 innings, allowing three hits, three walks and two runs (one earned). It's a credit to him that when he doesn't have his best pitches on the mound, he can still keep his team in the game, and the Gamecocks secured an 8-2 win.

The Bulldogs tied the series at a game apiece on Saturday, but the big news came after the game when South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner said that center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. would miss a few weeks after hurting his left wrist when diving for a fly ball. The Gamecocks announced on Monday that the junior is out indefinitely with a tendon injury.

The Gamecocks bounced back on Sunday to record a 13-4 victory and win the series. John Taylor went four innings out of the bullpen, allowing only one run and letting the South Carolina offense turn the game into a blowout.

Vanderbilt (35-5/14-4) sweeps LSU (24-17/4-14) - The struggles for LSU continue. The only close game of the weekend came on Sunday when the Commodores won 10-7. Vanderbilt pounced on Tigers ace Kurt McCune, allowing him to go only 3.2 innings and give up eight runs.

Freshman Kevin Gausman was equally as bad on Saturday for LSU, giving up five runs in 5.2 innings. Vanderbilt starter Grayson Garvin threw seven innings of one-run ball to put the game away. Jason Esposito and Co-SEC Freshman of the Week Conrad Gregor drove in three RBIs each.

Sunday's slugfest was a product of bad starts by LSU's Ben Alsup and Vanderbilt's Taylor Hill. The Tigers put four runs on the board in the seventh inning to get back in the game, but Mark Lamm and Navery Moore combined to allow one base runner in the final two innings and clinch the Vanderbilt sweep.

Florida (31-10/14-4) sweeps Alabama (25-18/8-10) - The Gators ended an eight-game road trip by hosting Alabama. Hudson Randall tossed 6.2 shutout innings for Florida on Friday, as the Gators won a 7-0 game to record their eighth shutout of the season. Home runs from Preston Tucker and Josh Adams put the game out of reach for Alabama.

Florida starter Brian Johnson and Alabama starter Adam Morgan both settled down after the first two innings, but the Gators already had a 4-2 lead. The two runs were all that Alabama would score, giving the Crimson Tide the most runs it would score in a game all weekend. After Johnson went five innings, the Florida bullpen threw four shutout innings, and Mike Zunino delivered a three-run home run in the seventh to serve as the knockout blow.

SEC Co-Freshman of the Week Karsten Whitson went a career long 6.2 innings, allowing three hits and one run while striking out seven hitters. It was the start Florida was waiting for out of the freshman that was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft. Nolan Fontana drove in two runs to give the Gators a 2-1 win and the sweep.

Georgia (21-20/11-7) wins two at Tennessee (22-17/5-13) - The series didn't look optimistic for the Bulldogs after Tennessee won the series opener 5-4 behind a walk off RBI single by Matt Duffy in the tenth inning. Lefthanders Alex Wood and Steven Gruver had good starts but neither picked up the win.

The Bulldogs bounced back to get an 8-6 win on Saturday. Junior Michael Palazzone went 8.2 innings, giving up eight hits, six runs (four earned) while walking two and recording three strikeouts. He improved to 7-1 on the season.

Georgia won the series on Sunday, and it didn't waste much time taking the lead. Three batters into the game, Kyle Farmer hit a three-run homer to left field to give the Bulldogs an early three-run advantage. Farmer added a two-run double in the fifth inning. Georgia relievers Chase Hawkins, Earl Daniels and Blake Dietrich combined to throw seven shutout innings to end the game.

Auburn (22-17/9-9) wins two over Ole Miss (24-17/9-9) - Ole Miss led the opening game 3-2 heading to the bottom of the seventh inning, but Auburn ended the game scoring four unanswered runs to record a 6-3 victory. Dan Gamache and Kevin Patteron each had two hits, including one home run each.

The Ole Miss offense exploded for ten runs in the second game to secure the win and tie the series. Designated hitter matt snyder drove in four runs while left field Matt Tracy and second baseman Alex Yarbrough each drove in two a piece. Starter David Goforth lasted five innings, allowing four runs.

It looked like Ole Miss was going to win the series, as the Rebels took a 7-5 lead into the seventh inning in the third game. Kevin Patterson's three-run home run in the seventh gave Auburn an 8-7 lead, and Wes Gilmer added a run in the eighth inning on an RBI single as the Tigers took the series.

Kentucky (19-22/4-14) wins two over Arkansas (28-11/9-9) - It was a disappointing weekend for Arkansas. Kentucky took the first game of the series behind SEC Pitcher of the Week Alex Meyer, who tossed a complete game, allowing three hits, two runs and striking out ten while the Wildcats won 3-2 to secure the first win of the series.

The teams were forced to play a doubleheader on Sunday because of weather, and they played two seven-inning games. Kentucky won the first game of the doubleheader behind 5.2 innings of one-run ball by freshman left-hander Corey Littrell. Kentucky catcher Luke Maile's two-run homer in the fourth inning proved to be the difference.

Arkansas won the final game of the series by recording a 5-1 win in six innings. Trent Daniel threw four shutout innings out of the bullpen while recording seven strikeouts and picking up the win.


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