SEC Baseball Notebook: Heated race for the final spot in Hoover carries into the final two games of the regular season

By Jacob Hillman

Auburn (24-25, 9-19) at Missouri (14-35, 7-21)

Game 1: Auburn 15, Missouri 6

Auburn and Missouri are battling for a spot in Hoover next week as Auburn has taken a 1-0 series lead. Auburn could eliminate Missouri from contention with a win on Friday as Richard Fitts will take the mound against Missouri’s Seth Halvorsen. Auburn must at least keep up with Texas A&M this weekend to advance to Hoover. Auburn will be without one of its top seniors for the remainder of the season as Steven Williams suffered a facial fracture on a hit by pitch on Thursday.

LSU (32-21, 11-17) at Texas A&M (29-25, 9-19)

Game 1: Texas A&M 2, LSU 1

Another series with SEC Tournament implications is the one in College Station. LSU and Texas A&M are the two other teams that have not clinched a spot in Hoover. Texas A&M senior Will Frizzell hit a go-ahead solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to put the Aggies ahead for good. LSU will deal with injuries for the remainder of the series as Gavin Dugas has a ribs injury, Giovanni DiGiacomo pulled his hamstring and Mitchell Sanford pulled his groin. LSU needs one win or an Auburn loss to advance to Hoover, while Texas A&M must have a better series than Auburn.

Mississippi State (38-13, 18-10) at Alabama (29-20, 12-15)

Game 1: Mississippi State 4, Alabama 2

No. 10 Mississippi State’s pitching prowess was on display in game one and likely will be for the remainder of the series with Will Bednar on the mound for game two. Alabama will look to junior Dylan Smith who has a 3.74 ERA to help even up the series. Tanner Allen continues to dominate the SEC by leading the conference with a .389 average. He is the only Power 5 hitter with 45 RBIs, 50 runs scored and 70 hits. The Bulldogs look to clinch at least a top-four seed in the SEC to have a bye in Hoover.

Florida (35-17, 17-11) at Arkansas (40-10, 20-8)

Game 1: Arkansas 6, Florida 1

Arkansas looks to clinch an SEC title and No. 1 seed in the SEC tournament this weekend against Florida. The Razorbacks need just one more win against Florida to guarantee at least a share of the overall title. It already clinched the SEC West with the victory on Thursday. Cayden Wallace homered twice, and Kevin Kopps threw three no-hit innings to close out the game. Florida now sits at fifth in the SEC with the same record as Ole Miss.

Kentucky (28-21, 11-17) at Vanderbilt (38-12, 18-9)

Game 1: Vanderbilt 4, Kentucky 2

Vanderbilt walked off game one with a Troy LaNeve two-run home run to defeat Kentucky. The Commodores are half a game behind Tennessee and half a game ahead of Mississippi State as they will play one less game due to the cancellation of game three against Alabama. Vanderbilt will throw Jack Leiter on Friday who has had a dominant season boasting a 2.05 ERA. If Kentucky fails to win a game in Nashville, it could create quite the log jam at the bottom half of the standings as they are tied with LSU heading into the weekend and are two games ahead of Auburn and Texas A&M.

Tennessee (41-13, 19-9) at South Carolina (32-19, 15-13)

Game 1: Tennessee 10, South Carolina 4

Tennessee opened the series with its first win in 11 tries in Columbia. The Volunteers look to claim the SEC East title and a top-two seed in Hoover this weekend. South Carolina is mostly locked into the seven seed unless it can win the final two games of the series and get help from Arkansas and Georgia.

Ole Miss (37-16, 17-11) at Georgia (29-22, 12-16)

Game 1: Ole Miss 2, Georgia 0

Even without its ace, Gunnar Hoglund, the Ole Miss pitching was fantastic in Thursday’s game. Starter Doug Nikhazy recorded a career-high 13 strikeouts in seven scoreless innings. Taylor Broadway closed out the final two innings and recorded the save. TJ McCants scoring twice was enough to back up the stellar pitching. Both the Rebels and Georgia are in battles for seeding in Hoover. Ole Miss is sixth in the SEC and tied with Florida. Georgia is ninth in the standings and tied with Alabama. The Bulldogs sit just one game ahead of LSU and Kentucky.

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