LSU closing in on SEC Championship

LSU's in sole possession of first place in the SEC after sweeping Missouri, needing two wins next weekend against South Carolina to clinch the regular season title.

2 — LSU’s magic number to win the SEC regular season title.

LSU placed itself in the driver’s seat to win the conference after sweeping Missouri this past weekend. But not only did LSU take care of its own business, it also got a little help from its friends.

Texas A&M dropped two out of three games at home to South Carolina, all games decided by two runs or less. Vanderbilt, who entered the weekend a half-game ahead, also lost its series at home, falling twice to Florida.

That gives LSU sole possession of first place in the SEC, 1.5 games ahead of Vanderbilt and 2 ahead of Texas A&M.

LSU’s easiest route to the title would be two wins next weekend at South Carolina. The Tigers could still pull it off without winning the series, but that would require even more help from Vanderbilt or Texas A&M.

LSU coach Paul Mainieri would rather take the simple path.

“It’s just a reminder you can’t worry about what everyone else is doing,” Mainieri said. “You start rooting for other teams, and you can’t control anything that’s happening. We told our guys to just concern ourselves with things we can control, which is how we play and what we do.

The biggest surprise of the weekend came from South Carolina. The Gamecocks had struggled all season, only winning two SEC series. But the Gamecocks scored 31 runs in the three games against A&M to pull out two big wins.

South Carolina’s now in the discussion for an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament. They’ll need a series victory against LSU to make that case.

So while South Carolina helped LSU this past weekend, they’re now standing in the way of the Tigers winning a conference championship.

“I’m very happy that we did get a little help, but that just means we’ve got a team on our hands that’s playing with a lot of confidence,” Mainieri said. “They’re starting to smell their ability to get in the NCAA Tournament, so I’m sure they’ll be highly motivated. Let’s see if we can go there and get the job done.”

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