Around the Bases // LSU, Florida, Ole Miss Lead after Wild Weekend

Aroundthebases_medium

This is the kind of weekend you can't make up. A team strikes out 17 batters -- and loses. There are three sweeps -- four if you count the abbreviated Alabama-Mississippi State series. And both division races are dramatically rewritten.

LSU AT ARKANSAS

Series LSU, 2-1 Runs: 13-14
Saturday (DH) Arkansas 11 LSU 4
LSU 5 Arkansas 0
Sunday LSU 4 Arkansas 3

These teams came into the series as the top two teams in the SEC West before the 2-1 LSU win, along with events described later, left the Hogs tied for third with Alabama. Louis Coleman pitched an incredible game Saturday for the shutout, and a lack of timely hitting doomed Arkansas in Game 3. But the loss in the first game Saturday proved costly for the Bayou Bengals -- they are now in a tie for first in both the division and the league.

THIS WEEK FOR LSU: vs. Florida (Weekend)
THIS WEEK FOR ARKANSAS: at Alabama (Weekend)

FLORIDA AT GEORGIA

Series Florida, 3-0 Runs: 27-23
Fri-Sat (11 inn) Florida 10 Georgia 9
Saturday Florida 7 Georgia 6
Sunday Florida 10 Georgia 8

How can you tell things are getting progressively worse for the Dawgs? Consider that less than a week ago, the Mayor wondered: "Are the Diamond Dogs Running On Empty?" The weekend series against the archrival Florida Gators led him to this conclusion: "Sports Cease to be Entertaining Diversion, Instead Sap All Joy From Human Existence." Georgia Sports Blog put it this way: "Georgia Baseball is Sinking." Is this an overreaction to a sweep? Perhaps. But consider that it dislodged Georgia from first in the SEC, a perch the Dawgs had comfortably held for weeks. Or that the Red and Black have lost six of their last seven league games, including the last five. And two of Florida's wins were come-from-behind victories, leaving an even more bitter taste in Georgia fans' mouths.

The flip side for Florida is that a team that looked middling just a few weeks ago is now in the driver's seat in the SEC East. With Georgia sliding and South Carolina four games out, and with Florida having swept both, it won't take much for the Gators to clinch the division -- and it would take a near-total collapse for them to not do so.

THIS WEEK FOR FLORIDA: vs. Florida Gulf Coast (Wednesday), at LSU (Weekend)
THIS WEEK FOR GEORGIA: vs. Vanderbilt (Weekend)

OLE MISS AT AUBURN

Series Ole Miss, 3-0 Runs: 28-8
Friday Ole Miss 9 Auburn 2
Saturday Ole Miss 8 Auburn 2
Sunday Ole Miss 11 Auburn 4

Surprising? No. Ole Miss was 13-8 in the SEC coming into this game, while Auburn was 8-13. And so the biggest news from the weekend: How long will Scott Bittle's "tender bicep" keep him out, if it sidelines him at all. Already he missed Sunday's series finale -- though pitching was clearly optional. And there's always Drew Pomeranz. In any case, the Rebels are now tied for the division (with LSU) and league lead (with LSU, Florida). Auburn, meanwhile, is likely to miss the SEC tournament. Sunday's loss left them in 10th place, meaning the Tigers need to pass two teams with two weekends to go.

THIS WEEK FOR OLE MISS: vs. Mississippi State (Weekend)
THIS WEEK FOR AUBURN: at Kentucky (Weekend)

VANDERBILT AT SOUTH CAROLINA

Series South Carolina, 3-0 Runs: 33-13
Friday South Carolina 8 Vanderbilt 5
Saturday South Carolina 14 Vanderbilt 5
Sunday South Carolina 11 Vanderbilt 3

South Carolina earned its first SEC sweep with pitching, hitting, and a mix of both, outscoring Vanderbilt by 20 runs on the weekend and putting themselves in a good position for a nice berth in Hoover. Dreams of an SEC regular-season championship, though, are dead and any hopes of winning the division are faint at best. Star DeAngelo Mack is red hot at the plate and the pitching is coming around. The Gamecocks needed a strong close for a shot at the NCAAs; winning three of the last four league sets won't hurt, though getting swept by Florida hurts. Vanderbilt, meanwhile, put themselves in poor position. The Dores need to do well in both remaining series to guarantee a spot in the SEC tournament, and while that won't be a problem the last weekend of the season (vs. Tennessee) it will be tough this weekend (at Georgia).

THIS WEEK FOR VANDERBILT: at Georgia (Weekend)
THIS WEEK FOR SOUTH CAROLINA: at Wofford (Wednesday), at Tennessee (Weekend)

ALABAMA AT MISSISSIPPI STATE

Series Alabama, 2-0 Runs: 27-24
Friday Alabama 10 Mississippi State 8
Sat-Sun Alabama 17 Mississippi State 16
Sunday CANCELED

The Tide and Arkansas both have canceled or postponed games that could become major factors in how the season plays out, but for now the two teams have to focus on each other: Alabama's two-game sweep of the Western Conference Bulldogs now mean this weekend's showdown will decide third place in the division and maybe a shot for more. Mississippi State, meanwhile, remains awful. But at least they made it interesting, with a 22.5-hour, 35-hit, five-error marathon in Game 2. Alabama left with another reason to worry -- it's beleaguered bullpen might have taken a hit.

THIS WEEK FOR ALABAMA: vs. Arkansas (Weekend)
THIS WEEK FOR MISSISSIPPI STATE: at Ole Miss (Weekend)

TENNESSEE AT KENTUCKY

Series Kentucky, 2-1 Runs: 25-23
Friday Kentucky 6 Tennessee 4
Saturday Tennessee 8 Kentucky 2
Sunday Kentucky 17 Tennessee 11

All you can ask of two teams that are almost out of it is that they make things entertaining. Mission accomplished. Tennessee won 8-2 Saturday despite striking out a mind-blowing 17 times. Put another saw: The Vols offense had 15 more Ks at the end of the game than Kentucky had runs. After another bizarre game Sunday, the Cats remain alive -- but with almost no margin for error. They must win the upcoming series against Auburn, and perhaps sweep it, to avoid being in a hole as they play at Florida to end the season.

THIS WEEK FOR TENNESSEE: vs. Georgia Tech at AT&T Field, Chattanooga (Wednesday), vs. South Carolina (Weekend)
THIS WEEK FOR KENTUCKY: vs. Auburn (Weekend)

THE POLLS

Baseball America

Collegiate Baseball

USA Today/ESPN

LSU

3

3

4

Ole Miss

7

12

9

Florida

11

9

12

Arkansas

17

13

11

Georgia

22

14

13

Alabama

21

23

25

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