SEC Stretch Run Begins

The final four weeks of the college baseball season promise a mad dash to the finish line in the SEC. Eleven teams are within two games of the top eight, which means a spot in the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala. The Florida Gators are one of those teams, currently sitting in a tie for fifth place with a 10-8 SEC record. The Gators will host South Carolina in a three game set beginning Friday night.

Carolina is right behind the Gators at 9-9 in the SEC, so the winner of this series will be in much better position than the loser as far as post-season play is concerned. It's important to note that the winner of a series enjoys a tie-breaker advantage over the loser when it comes to placement in the tournament. Florida would win a tie-breaker with Alabama (10-8) or Auburn (8-10) if it comes to that, but they would lose to Ole Miss (11-7) or Vanderbilt (7-10).

The Gators enter the weekend still unsettled as far as a pitching rotation is concerned, even though the Gators have pitched pretty well in league play. Senior Stephen Locke and freshman Anthony DeSclafani are expected to get the first two starts against Carolina while Jeff Barfield, Alex Panteliodis and Nick Maronde are candidates to get the ball on Sunday.

Even though the Gators are just 10-8 in the SEC, they have been more impressive than that in league play. The Gators have outscored SEC opponents 129-101, which is better than a run a game. Josh Adams (.382) has been Florida's top hitter in SEC games, followed by Preston Tucker (.349) who leads the team with 23 RBI is 18 conference contests. Avery Barnes has four HR in SEC play and Matt den Dekker is 7-for-7 in stolen bases. On the mound five different pitchers each have two wins while junior Billy Bullock leads the team with three saves.

The schedule speaks loud and clear about the importance of this weekend. The Gators have to travel to Georgia (13-5) and LSU (11-7) the next two weekends, so they could use as much of a margin for error as possible.


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