The SEC is dominating baseball coverage on CSS this weekend. Along with a significant Sun Belt matchup for Troy, you won’t want to miss a minute of the action. Here’s the rundown for the four games on display ahead.
Florida at No. 3 LSU (7:30 p.m., May 3)
If you haven’t seen the Gators play recently, you’ve missed out on quite the progression from this squad. Florida finished 12-4 in April, improving to 25-20 overall and 12-9 in SEC play. LSU, of course, scoffs at that record, as the Tigers are sitting at 40-6 with less than a month to play in the regular season.
But LSU is proving to be mortal. It suffered its first back-to-back losses of the year against South Carolina last weekend, dropping its first series in all of 2013. First baseman Mason Katz has voiced his displeasure with the recent woes, but might be the most vital piece to the Tigers’ success going forward. Katz finally picked up his first RBI since April 10 in the recent win against McNeese State.
The Gators have won three straight SEC series. Sophomore infielder Zack Powers is on a nine-game hitting streak. The team ERA is down to 3.68 with Johnny Magliozzi and Daniel Gibson dominating in relief work. Kevin O’Sullivan’s team is turning the corner at the right time. Can they sustain the newfound success against one of the nation’s best?
Florida International at Troy (4 p.m., May 4)
Troy continues to add to an impressive postseason resume. At 13-8 in conference play, it sits just two games of South Alabama’s lead in the Sun Belt. Florida International, though, is just trying to stay above .500 at this point.
Josh Anderson’s walk-off single in the 11th inning against Louisiana-Lafayette was the only bright spot from FIU’s last series. The Panthers were outscored 23-5 in the final two games. Even worse? The Trojans are better than the Cajuns.
Troy had won seven straight until dropping a single game in its last series against Florida Atlantic. Now the Trojans head home, where they’ve won 13 consecutive games, the longest active streak in nation. Junior Danny Collins is now batting .381 with nine homers, 21 doubles and 57 RBI. This could be another sweep for Troy.
Georgia at Tennessee (7 p.m., May 4)
Ah, we’ve reached the battle for worst in the East. Georgia holds four SEC wins under its belt this season, while Tennessee sits at six. Since winning the Hokey-Smokey Classic on April 16, the Volunteers are 1-7 with a single 4-2 victory over the Gators. At least UGA has picked up a few notable wins in recent play.
The Bulldogs pick up a win over the Commodores last weekend. They routed the Yellow Jackets 17-0 on April 23. They even kept it close in two games with the Razorbacks before a third-game rainout. Which UGA team shows up here? Senior third baseman Curt Powell is on a five-game hitting streak with a .381 average, while senior shortstop Kyle Farmer is on pace to break the school fielding percentage record he set last year. The Dawgs have talent; it’s just matter of bringing it all together.
Looking at Tennessee’s record is tough to stomach. The Volunteers lost five one-run games in April. They keep it competitive in most matchups, but finishing strong is a different story. With a team ERA of 5.25, it’s easy to see what the biggest issue is. Zack Godfrey is the only pitcher on the roster with a sub-4.0 ERA. Unfortunately, no, that isn’t a joke. They’ll have to rely on him again for at least one start.
No. 2 Vanderbilt at No. 9 South Carolina (4 p.m., May 5)
Where does Vanderbilt rank in history among the South? At 19-2 in conference play, the Commodores have the best 21-game record in SEC history. South Carolina’s aforementioned series win over LSU, though, just adds to the storylines for this monster showdown.
Junior Tony Kemp was named SEC Player of the Week after he went 9-for-14 with three multi-hit games in four combined games against Louisville and Mississippi State. Kemp also hit his 20th triple of his career, putting him one away from the all-time conference record. Vanderbilt has six starters batting above .300. This lineup is unreal.
The Gamecocks see your Player of the Week and raise you the SEC Pitcher of the Week. Freshman phenom Jack Wynkoop earned the honor for the second time this season after pitching seven scoreless innings, allowing no hits and no walks against then No. 2 LSU. Wynkoop is 6-2 with a 2.66 ERA in 47.1 innings of work so far. We’ll see if the Commodores’ bats can rattle the youngster.