SEC race tight with two weekends to go

As the baseball season draws to a close, things are heating up at the top of the standings in the SEC. South Carolina and LSU sit atop the standings, but Kentucky and Florida are looking to take advantage of possible slip-ups from the Gamecocks and Tigers.

For the second time in three years, it appears that the race for the SEC Championship will be decided on the final weekend of the season in Columbia. Two years ago Florida and South Carolina entered the final weekend with identical 20-7 records in conference play. The Gators won the first two games and the Gamecocks had to watch their SEC East rivals celebrate their SEC Championship on the field at Carolina Stadium. However, South Carolina would rebound to win the first National Championship in program history.

This season it appears the fourth-ranked Gamecocks are headed down the same path after taking two of three from 20th-ranked Arkansas this past weekend. Carolina overcame an early 6-0 deficit to win game one in extra innings. The next day the Razorbacks put on small-ball clinic, routinely getting the leadoff batter aboard, bunting him over and then driving him in. Carolina would use a 6-run eighth inning in the series finale to break open a 4-3 game, but had to hang on in the end for a 10-7 win with closer Matt Price struggling to find outs.

Third-ranked LSU, who took two of three from Ole Miss, is tied with the Gamecocks for the SEC regular season crown with a 16-8 record. The two are scheduled to meet next Thursday-Sunday in Columbia in a series that is sure to garner national attention. Should Carolina and LSU falter down the stretch, seventh-ranked Kentucky is sitting just one game back and sixth-ranked Florida is just two games back. Arkansas, 25th-ranked Mississippi State and Georgia are four games back and it would take a lot of luck for any to pass the four teams in front of them.

Looking ahead, all four teams have series that they should all win. South Carolina is the only team that has to play on the road when it travels to Georgia, who is in that tie for fifth place in the conference at 12-12. LSU hosts Vanderbilt, who sits tied with Ole Miss for eighth. Kentucky has the easiest road with a series against last place Alabama. Florida hosts Mississippi State, who is also in that tie for fifth.

The last weekend sees Florida hosting tenth-place Auburn and Kentucky taking on Mississippi State. The big one is the Tigers and Gamecocks in Columbia.

Of the four teams, Carolina's road is the most difficult. They are the only to take to the road this weekend and return home to face LSU. Florida has the easiest road with all six games in Gainesville, but the Gators have to make up two games on Carolina and LSU.

The goal for the Gamecocks is simple; win two out of three against Georgia and then a series win against LSU would give them at least a share of the SEC Championship unless Kentucky wins out. With six consecutive series wins under their belt, winning two of three from the Bulldogs should not be hard to expect.

SEC Standings


South Carolina
- 16-8, 36-12
Kentucky - 15-9, 37-11
Florida - 14-10, 35-13
Georgia - 12-12, 28-20
Vanderbilt - 11-13, 23-24
Tennessee - 8-16, 23-24


LSU - 16-8, 38-11
Arkansas - 12-12, 34-15
Mississippi State - 12-12, 29-18
Ole Miss - 11-13, 31-18
Auburn - 10-14, 25-22
Alabama - 7-17, 18-30

Tennessee and Alabama would fail to make SEC Tournament if season ended today

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