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GR's Baseball Preview Article - March 28-30

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Missouri @ Auburn

A month ago nobody would have batted an eye at this series. Instead, Auburn is now one of the more intriguing teams in the country. After a slow start the Tigers have now won 11 of their last 13 behind some solid starting pitching. In fact, Keegan Thompson may be National Freshman of the Year if he keeps his pace up. The true frosh is 5-0 with a 0.78 ERA as the Saturday starter. Friday night man Dillon Ortman has not been to shabby himself, sporting a 5-1 record. The problem is they are the only dependable arms on the team. On the flipside, Missouri is exactly who we thought they’d be. In fact the only bright spots on Mizzou’s team are the Friday night arm Brett Graves and LF Eric Anderson. Graves is a power arm that has been stifling so far. Anderson is a big, athletic outfielder that can pound the ball. As far as this matchup goes, I’d give Auburn the edge. But if Graves can throw well Friday and lead his team to victory, Sunday is a toss up. Friday’s game is very crucial in this series.

Texas A&M @ Georgia

On the surface it would seem that Texas A&M would be the odds on favorite. However Georgia has been playing much improved the last couple of weeks. After giving Mississippi State a run and tying the series against LSU, the Bulldogs have some much needed momentum for their new staff and team. The Aggies have been mediocre most of the year coming off a series win versus the Gators at home including several extra inning games. Neither team is flashy but both can be very good at times. A&M has the nod with their starting pitching yet the bullpen has been abysmal. Georgia has several good bats in the middle of the lineup including junior Hunter Cole who has 9 doubles on the year. I’ll give the edge to Georgia at home in the ivy.

Tennessee @ South Carolina

After an electric start Tennessee is coming back to reality. The Vols are making strides in the right direction but are still a few years from being a threat in the SEC. Despite SC’s series loss at Kentucky, I’d still label them as a top 3 team in this league. The Vols are led by starter Nick Williams and a string of productive bats in Senzel, Price, Maddux, and Stewart. These guys will need to produce more than a few runs a game to take out the Cocks at home. Behind veteran Jordan Montgomery, Wynkoop and freshman sensation Crowe the Cocks have one of the better staffs in the country again. The bullpen which was questioned preseason has been a strength of the team, especially on the back end. I’ll give the nod to Connor Bright, Joey Pankake, Tanner English, and crew. I think they’ll score enough against Tennessee to win at least two.

Arkansas @ Miss St

The Razorbacks always seem to be the same team with great starting pitching and a weak lineup. This year is no different. Oliver, Beeks, and Killian have filled the void left from last year and are throwing the ball really well. However they can’t get anything going offensively. MSU is a super streaky team at the moment. The pitching and hitting has been hit or miss, although trending in the right direction. The Dogs finally gave up on Friday pitcher Brandon Woodruff after his inability to make it out of the 2nd inning. Now one of the best relief pitchers in the country, Ross Mitchell, is starting on Saturdays and doing well. Neither team is going to light up the scoreboard but the Bulldogs have more run scoring potential behind the bats of Rea, Pirtle, and Detz. I’ll give MSU the nod in this one playing at home, but I think Arkansas takes game 1.

Kentucky @ Vanderbilt

This has suddenly become an interesting series. Kentucky is coming off a huge home series win against SC and Vandy is coming back from Starkville with its tail under its butt. But this game is not at Kentucky, where the Wildcats know how to take advantage of a short porch. There’s no reason to think Tyler Beede will have another bad outing after last Friday night. However if there’s one team in the country that has proven they can hit any pitcher it’s the Wildcats who seem to score 10 runs every game. Dual threat AJ Reed has been outstanding this year. Thomas and Cousino are both massacring the ball as well batting above .370 with a combined 7 HRs and 44 RBIs. I want to give the edge to Vandy based off of overall talent, pitching, and playing at home. Kentucky is just a scary team to play right now. I won’t be surprised whomever wins but I’ll go with my gut and say Kentucky.

LSU @ Florida

This series looks like the breadwinner at title alone. However the Gators are just not what they should be. The talent is undeniable but the team just struggles to put it all together. Several Gator players are having a good campaign though. Starting pitcher Logan Shore has been terrific while relievers Ryan Harris and Aaron Rhodes have been almost unhittable. Outside of Gushue and Mattson the Gators just cant get things going at the plate. And that’s not a good thing when Austin Nola and Jared Poche are coming to town. Nola may be the best starting pitcher in the nation this year and Alex Bregman is the best shortstop in my opinion. Unlike most years LSU is batting more for average instead of playing gorilla ball. It’s working though, at moments. If this series was in Baton Rouge I’d say LSU wins easily. But I really do think Florida has a shot at taking it at home if they can score a few runs here and there. I’ll stick with the Tigers winning the rubber match though.

Ole Miss @ Alabama

The Tide are coming off of a tough series loss at Arkansas but have been strong against the Rebels in Tuscaloosa in past years. Behind starting pitchers Spencer Turnbull and Jon Keller, as well as Austen Smith’s bat, the Tide are putting together a strong 2014 campaign. Someone besides Smith and Georgie Salem will need to hit the ball as the Rebels and Chris Ellis roll into town. Ellis is sporting an ERA of 0.67 this year leading a team ERA of just 2.03. Unlike last year Ole Miss is pounding the ball sporting 19 home runs already in this young season. With 6 batters sitting above a .300 average, the Rebels seem to be a pretty well rounded club. While Ole Miss has struggled to win in the past in Tuscaloosa, I think they are the better team. Friday’s night pairing of Turnbull and Ellis will be a good one and the deciding game in this series. If I’m forced to pick a winner, I’d pick the Rebels. Although I don’t necessarily feel strong about the pick.


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