by Otis Kirk
FAYETTEVILLE — The final week of the regular season baseball action in the SEC is upon us and the Razorbacks are in a battle in the West.
Arkansas dropped two of three games to Vanderbilt this past weekend at Baum-Walker Stadium thus falling into a two-way tie for first place in the West with Texas A&M. Both teams are 17-10 in SEC play. Auburn is in striking distance at 15-11 while LSU, at 14-13, is still mathematically in the picture.
Dave Van Horn talked about the tight race following Sunday’s loss to Vanderbilt: “Yeah, it’s pretty much exactly what I thought it would be,” Van Horn said. “I told the coaches a few weeks back – more like five weeks back – I’d said 18 might tie, and 19 might win it. And that might end up being what happens. So, it doesn’t surprise me a bit. They’ve (Texas A&M) played their last six games at home in conference play, and they play really well at home. We played them, two one-run games at their place. You look back, and you kind of kick yourself. But you do it every year.
“There’s some other one-run losses in there for us that are frustrating. We won a few of those as well. We beat some really good people this year. You look at Ole Miss, two out of the three, and now they’re back to being what everybody thought they would be. LSU has run into Ole Miss, who is hot right now. But they were hot there. After they left here, they took it out on everyone. That’s kind of the way this league works. I mean, you look at Vandy. You see how good they are. They’re one game over .500 in league play, and they’ve got LSU coming to them next week. Something like that. It’s a very even league obviously.”
The one exception to Van Horn’s even play is Tennessee. They are 22-5 in SEC play and own an eight-game lead in the East. The Vols have obviously captured the overall regular season title.
“Having seen Tennessee play, they’re better than everybody this year, and they’ve proved it week in and week out,” Van Horn said. “Other than that, I think the league is just very balanced, very talented. The pitching this year, at least what we’ve faced and we haven’t faced all the teams, has been really good. What I mean by that is the velocity, the secondary pitches. I mean, that’s a freshman left-hander who is throwing in the mid-90s seven straight innings. Not too many guys that are in college that are left-handed and that are freshmen doing that. He was amazing. We’ll get to face him for another couple of years.”
On Thursday all four schools fighting for the SEC will begin a weekend series. An oddity of sorts is all four will be on the road. Arkansas and Alabama (10-16 in the SEC) will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday. Friday’s game is at 7 p.m. and on the SEC Network while Saturday’s contest starts at 1 p.m.
Thursday, May 19-21, SEC action.
Auburn at Kentucky
Arkansas at Alabama
Texas A&M at Ole Miss
LSU at Vanderbilt