Florida takes 2 of 3 from Georgia
Florida took 2 of 3 from Georgia this weekend to win the SEC title again. The Gators staged a ninth-inning comeback on Friday night that killed UGA then ran away with Saturday’s game. The Bulldogs won the Sunday game – Florida’s 3rd game-three loss in the last 4 weeks.
The Gators are so damn dominant it’s not even fair…except for that one glaring weakness. They’ve got the bats, they’ve got the two top-line starters, they’ve got the bullpen and they’ve got the defense. But UF cannot find a Sunday starter.
Tyler Dyson was benched a few weeks ago in favor of Jack Leftwich. But Leftwich has underwhelmed; his 6.23 ERA in 3 starts is not what the #1 team in the country needs right now. Do you go back to Dyson? Keep on with Leftwich? Try a new guy this weekend in Starkville? Kevin O’Sullivan has a big-time dilemma going forward.
A dependable game-three starter is so important in the next month. It’s the difference in another title and Florida getting upset in a regional or early in Omaha. Note: The Gators are 2-5 in the last month when Singer or Kowar don’t start.
We’ll delve deeper into this subject later in the week.
Arkansas sweeps Texas A&M at home
Arkansas won their 30th home game as they swept A&M on Sunday. The Omahogs used the homerun, great pitching, and surprisingly good defense over the weekend to hang onto first place in the SEC West. I think Arkansas has wrapped up a national seed at this point but this weekend in Athens will show us if the Hogs are truly elite. Arky is 5-11 on the road this year.
Blaine Knight and Kacey Murphy each had career-long starts and the 3 Razorback starters gave up just 3 earned runs on the weekend combined. I have high hopes for the Hogs.
As for the Aggies, I’m really at a loss. A&M is #15 in the RPI but that’s based more on schedule than accomplishment. They are 12-15 in the SEC, 7-10 on the road, and 9-14 vs top 50 teams. When you look at this team you see a lot more talent than the breakdowns indicate. This team is underachieving just like last year’s squad did in the regular season.
A&M has 19 NCAA wins in the last 5 years but just one 2&Q in Omaha to show for it (2017). They’ve won a regional 3 years in a row and won a Super last year (but did it as a #3 seed and faced Davidson who had upset UNC in regional play). Tied for 9th going into the last weekend of the year is not where Rob Childress’ team should be.
Ole Miss Runs Through Auburn & Casey Mize
Ole Miss made an emphatic statement this weekend, sweeping Auburn and putting distance between themselves and the Tigers (both the LSU and Auburn variety). Now it will come down to the last weekend of the year for the SEC West title – the Landsharks are just 1 game back of Arkansas (and hold the tiebreaker). OM goes to Alabama this weekend giving them a possible advantage over Arkansas (@UGA) in the race.
Most impressive from the Auburn series is how the Rebs treated Casey Mize. Ole Miss stomped on the future #1 pick with 6 earned runs on 8 hits in just 5 innings on Friday. Will be interesting to see if he can rebound this Friday night vs LSU or if the move to game-two has messed with his mojo. I said last week that I thought moving Mize to Friday was overthinking it. But maybe he just had a bad night.
Auburn is licking their wounds and wondering what happened in Oxford. They go home for an LSU squad that has been awful on the road this year. Losing this series to LSU could drop Auburn as far as 10th or 11th for SEC Tourney seeding so a win is vital. The Tigers are pretty much assured* of playing in the first round of the SEC Tournament.
News and Notes
LSU continued to experiment with this goofy idea of Beau Jordan in the lead-off spot. It paid off on Friday – Jordan hit an 8th inning grand slam to win game 1 for the Tigers. That said, I still don’t see why center fielder Zach Watson isn’t in this spot. Still, the Tigers have won
South Carolina escaped with a series win at home this weekend over Mizzou. In a 0-0 game, Carlos Cortes homered on the first pitch of the bottom of the ninth to win it for the Gamecocks. The win kept USC a game back of UGA and Ole Miss for a bye in the first round of the SEC Tourney. Carolina holds the tiebreak over Ole Miss.
Florida has 24 wins over top 50 teams this year – by far the most in the country. #2 on that list is Arkansas with 19. Only 5 teams in the country have more than 15 wins over top 50 programs – four of them are from the SEC (FSU, UGA & OM are the others).
*Auburn would need all of: a sweep over LSU, Georgia swept by Arkansas, South Carolina swept by A&M, and Kentucky to lose at least once at Vandy in order to be a top-four team.