ATB Final Weekend: Florida, Alabama Take Division Leads Into Friday

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Every game's importance is magnified this weekend, so we'll wrap up each day's action briefly and take a look at what it means for the standings. Speaking of standings:

SEC EAST SEC WEST
Overall SEC GB Overall SEC GB
Florida
40-14 21-7 -- Alabama 32-22 14-14 --
South Carolina
42-12 20-8 1.0 Mississippi State 33-20 13-15 1.0
Vanderbilt
42-9 20-8 1.0 Auburn 28-26 13-15 1.0
Georgia 28-26 16-12 5.0 Ole Miss
30-23 13-15 1.0
x-Kentucky 24-29 7-21 14.0 Arkansas
34-18 13-15 1.0
x-Tennessee 24-28 6-22 15.0 LSU 35-19 12-16 2.0

NOTE: Teams in gray are eliminated from division contention. Teams with "x" are eliminated from Hoover.

It's useful to note that, while I'm confident that everything in the above chart is likely right, things are going to get dicey as the weekend goes along. That's because the West is so convoluted that the conference is actually refusing to game out scenarios for what each team needs to do to head to Hoover and where they would be seeded.

A quick round-up of the action follows the jump.

Florida 9, Kentucky 6
Five errors is the most significant stat in the showdown between Florida, your new division leaders, and the Wildcats, who might soon end up last in the SEC East, though it's hard to believe that Tennessee will give up that distinction without a fight. The uptake is that Florida is the only SEC East team that controls its own destiny heading into the final two days of the season; the Gators are on track for their second regular-season conference championship in as many years.

Alabama 2, South Carolina 1
Both teams broke a tie with this series, though one would just as soon still be mired in a deadlock. Alabama now leads the SEC West, which either means that order is about to be restored or the whole thing is about to dissolve into some sort of supernova of mediocrity, with the smart money being on the latter. Michael Roth pitched well for the Gamecocks, but Nathan Kilcrease pitched better for the Tide. The two runs allowed by Roth in the first inning were too much, and even with South Carolina's pitching staff you have to produce more than a run of offense to win most games.

Georgia 5, Vanderbilt 4
The Dawgs' Michael Palazzone all but ended the Commodores hopes for the East by pitching nine workman-like innings for the complete game win in Athens. After a rough start, Palazzone pitched six scoreless frames to close out the game. The Dores now needed to sweep the remaining two games, have South Carolina drop at least one and have Florida lose both remaining games against Kentucky. That's not impossible, but it's also not exactly on the right side of likely. Georgia has locked up a trip to Hoover and the No. 5 seed in the tournament.

Mississippi 2, Arkansas 1
Michael Roth was not the only one with the right to gripe about his offensive support. D.J. Baxendale pitched 8.1 and gave up just two runs while striking out eight. That generally should not mean you end up with a loss. (Now, can we all agree that the loss is the dumbest statistic in sports?) Then again, as a pitcher for one of the worst offensive teams left in the tournament, Baxendale is probably used to that kind of game. The Rebels win means that five SEC West teams are now within a game of each other.

LSU 17, Mississippi State 1
There are only two things that need to be said about this game: (1) Mikie Mahtook (3-4, HR, BB, 3 runs, 4 RBIs); and (2) This is the box score summary for the LSU half of the sixth inning:

Ross singled to left field. Jones, J. walked; Ross advanced to second. D. Jones to p for Statz. Watkins struck out swinging. Rhymes walked; Jones, J. advanced to second; Ross advanced to third. Katz doubled to left field, 3 RBI, advanced to third on the throw; Rhymes scored; Jones, J. scored; Ross scored. Mahtook walked; Katz scored on a wild pitch. Busby to p for D. Jones. Mahtook advanced to second on a wild pitch. Nola walked. Hanover walked; Nola advanced to second; Mahtook advanced to third. Edward doubled to left center, 3 RBI; Hanover scored; Nola scored; Mahtook scored. Norris to p for Busby. Ross doubled to center field, RBI; Edward scored. Jones, J. homered to left field, 2 RBI; Ross scored. Watkins grounded out to 3b. Rhymes doubled to left field. Katz popped up to ss. 10 runs, 6 hits, 0 errors, 1 LOB

Tennessee 5, Auburn 2
Congratulations, Tigers; you managed to score just two runs against the worst pitching staff in the SEC. But not all is lost; you also gave up five runs on thirteen hits to the worst offense in the league. It's now time to say that if the Tigers don't won the West, they have no one to blame but themselves.

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