Commodores one step closer

Saturday the Vanderbilt baseball team wrapped up the SEC East Division Championship. To some that might not seem like such a big deal for the nation's No.1 ranked team but closer study indicates that it is a big deal.

The 6-5, 10-inning, victory over Auburn gave the Commodores the divisional title. The win gave Vanderbilt an insurmountable game lead over second place South Carolina. It was the Commodores first divisional baseball title since the SEC added Arkansas and South Carolina in the early 1990s.

There are a couple reasons that the divisional title is important to Vanderbilt. One is that it's a baseball title. Vanderbilt hasn't won a SEC baseball championship of any kind since 1980 when they blazed through the SEC Tournament, scoring an amazing 63 runs in five games. It's good to end the 26-year drought.

Secondly, Vanderbilt now has earned at least a No. 2 seed in the SEC Baseball Tournament, which starts in less than two weeks. There have been 30 SEC Baseball Tournaments since the event started in 1977. Not only has Vanderbilt struggled in the event; the Commodores have qualified to participate in just 11 of the 30 tournaments since '77.

While other SEC teams struggle through their final conference three-game series and fight to even get in the tournament, the Vanderbilt team can be assured that they'll have at least a No. 2 seed.

Thirdly, championship teams seem to have a habit of winning less notable championships before winning the big one. Just look at the Florida Gators basketball team. During their recent championship run they first won the SEC East divisional and overall SEC regular season titles, then they stormed through the SEC Tournament in Atlanta. After advancing to the Sweet Sixteen they won their regional championship and finally finished with a big win over Ohio State in the national championship game. The Commodores have taken that first step by winning the SEC East Division Championship.

The men in Black & Gold must continue to take games and championships one at a time. Sunday's loss to Auburn was but an annoyance during a championship season. The Vanderbilt men host a dangerous LSU team at Hawkins Field in a Thursday through Saturday series. This is the same Tiger team that took 2 of 3 games at Arkansas a week ago. You can bet the visitors from Baton Rouge will happily celebrate if they can deny Vanderbilt a SEC regular season championship. Another solid effort is needed to keep the Tigers from getting their wish.

Let's hope our Commodores can take care of business against LSU and get another title and then follow that up with a great showing in the SEC Tournament and the following NCAAs. Championships seem to breed more championships and a winning series in Omaha is the long-range objective. But first things first and lets celebrate that SEC Divisional Championship!

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