Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE
Several SEC teams struggle at home, while one takes a big series over a visiting west coast power.
The final weekend of non-conference play for the SEC's 14 baseball teams is in the books, and a half dozen teams remain nearly perfect entering league play. There were several key matchups around the conference this weekend, while a few series that we might have expected to be winnable went the other way for SEC home teams. Let's take a look at the SEC's players of the week and then a look at the standings and records heading into league play, with some notes on several series from weekend #4:
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Joey Pankake • South Carolina
Sophomore • SS • Easley, S.C.
• Pankake had a productive week at the plate as he hit .438 (7-for-16) in the five games with four homers, seven runs scored and nine RBI. Pankake hit a pair of three-run homers in each of the wins over Ball State.
• He then homered in both Saturday and Sunday's victories over Rider. He drove in at least one run in all five games this week. For the season, Pankake is hitting .326 (15-for-46) with four homers, 14 RBI and 11 runs scored. He is currently on a seven-game hitting streak. Drove in only run in Sunday's 1-0 win.
PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Kevin Ziomek • Vanderbilt
Junior • LHP • Amherst, Mass.
• Tossed his second consecutive complete game allowing one run on two hits against #15 Oregon on Friday night.
• The lefty dominated allowing only one base runner and no hits after the fourth inning, retiring 18 of the final 19 batters he faced. Ziomek fanned at least one batter in all nine innings and struck out eight Ducks at least once.
• Over his last two starts the junior has two complete game wins striking out 28 and allowing one run on three hits with four walks.
FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK
Trey Killian • Arkansas
RHP • Mountain Home, Ark.
• Killian tossed seven no hit innings to lead Arkansas to an 8-2 win over San Diego State in game three of the series ... Killian retired the first 17 batters he faced against the Aztecs, carrying a perfect game until two outs in the sixth ... Only allowed two batters to reach during his seven innings, one on a walk and the other reached on an error.
• Did not have a base runner advance past first base during the outing ... Tossed 84 pitches, 61 of those for strikes, in the outing with 72.6 percent of his deliveries going for strikes ... Struck out seven in the performance and only issued one walk. [via SECsports.com]
|#2 Vanderbilt||15-2||0-0||L1||Oregon 7, Vanderbilt 5
|#10 Kentucky||13-2||0-0||W1||Kentucky 3, Michigan St. 1
|#5 South Carolina
||13-2||0-0||W6||South Carolina 1, Rider 0|
|Tennessee||7-7||0-0||W3||Tennessee 12, Alcorn St. 4
|Florida||8-9||0-0||L1||Indiana 7, Florida 4
|Georgia||7-8||0-0||L1||Liberty 11, Georgia 8
|Missouri||3-7||0-0||L1||San Francisco 8, Missouri 3|
|#6 Ole Miss||16-1||0-0||W4||Ole Miss 9, Lipscomb 8
|#7 LSU||15-1||0-0||W4||LSU 7, Washington 5
|#13 Mississippi State||17-2||0-0||L2
||Central Arkansas 7, MSU 3
|Auburn||12-3||0-0||W6||Auburn 6, Brown 3
|#15 Arkansas||11-5||0-0||W4||Arkansas 8, San Diego St. 2
||10-7||0-0||L2||Cal St. Fullerton 7, Texas A&M 4
|Alabama||8-7||0-0||L4||Louisville 8, Alabama 7
- The biggest series in the conference this weekend was a matchup in Nashville between #15 Oregon and #2 Vanderbilt. The two teams didn't disappoint, playing three fairly tight games, but in the end, it was home-standing Vanderbilt taking the series. Kudos to Vandy for playing such a tough non-conference opponent in the final weekend before conference play, and kudos to Oregon for making the trip. If you remember, Oregon didn't even have a baseball program a few short years ago, and they are now consistently in or near the top 25. An impressive feat, even if it was done with Phil Knight's endless pockets.
- Several others series of note this past weekend included San Diego State at Arkansas and Alabama at Louisville. The Arkansas - SDSU series didn't end up being a full four game set, but it was a decently contested series, with Arkansas winning two close games and one not-so-close game. The Aztecs were without head coach Tony Gwynn -- yes, THAT Tony Gwynn -- who was unable to travel due to medical issues. In the other semi-marquee matchup this weekend, Alabama traveled to Louisville to take on a very good Cardinal team, and the Tide found out just how good they really are. Alabama played Louisville extremely tight for three games, but was unable to come away with anything to show for it, getting swept in the series. Still, I was impressed at how well they hung with the #5 Cardinal on the road.
- In "I'm disappointed in you" news, both MSU and Florida dropped home series this past weekend to teams they might not have expected to. Granted, Central Arkansas is a really good mid-major team, I doubt #3 MSU expected to drop Saturday and Sunday's ballgames to them. As a State fan, I'm hoping the losses were enough to wake the team up, as #8 LSU travels to town this weekend for the SEC opening series. Also, Southern Miss is on tap tomorrow night. As for Florida, well, their journey continues to be tough as they live life without Mike Zunino, Brian Johnson, and a host of super-talented players that departed their roster last year.