SEC Baseball: Thursday (In)action Leaves South Carolina, LSU in the Lead

Aroundthebases2010_medium

Let's do a quick run-down of the games, then check the standings and see where everyone stands in terms of Hoover and making the NCAA tournament.

LSU vs. South Carolina, Game 1 -- PPD
Rained out. South Carolina has now been rained out for three consecutive games. The two top teams in the league will try a doubleheader on Friday. Prospects are mixed.

Mississippi State 3, Kentucky 1
The Wildcats are in real danger of not getting a national seed at this point -- after looking like a sure thing for much of the season -- and a loss to Mississippi State doesn't help. The Wildcats had seven hits, but only once did they have more than one hit in an inning. When you also don't draw a single walk, that's not a recipe for success. Chris Stratton was, as expected, great for the Western Division Bulldogs as he pitched 6.1 innings of one-run ball.

Florida 6, Auburn 0
Hudson Randall gave up just three hits in a complete-game shutout as Florida cruised. Jon Luke Jacobs got shelled, giving up five earned runs in 1.1 innings of work, including a wild pitch and two hit batsmen. The SEC East is still in reach, but the Gators are still underdogs here.

Vanderbilt 3, Ole Miss 0
Three hits and two walks were all the Commodores did on offense -- but add a Rebel Black Bear error and they managed to push across three runs while T.J. Pecoraro shut out Ole Miss on five hits. The game effectively gave LSU the division crown.

Arkansas 8, Tennessee 0
The Vols are just playing out the string, while the Razorbacks are looking for seeding. Arkansas hammered Tennessee pitching for 12 hits while DJ Baxendale allowed just two hits and struck out seven in eight innings. It was 7-0 by the end of the third.

Georgia 8, Alabama 4
Again, this is a team that has something to play against a team that doesn't. But Alabama at least had more fight than the Vols, ringing up 10 hits and rallying for three runs in the last two innings before losing. Georgia's five-run second inning ended up being enough. No home runs in a game where the two teams combined to score 12 runs.

SEC EAST SEC WEST
Overall SEC GB Overall SEC GB
South Carolina
38-13 17-9 -- z-LSU 40-13 17-10 --
Kentucky
41-13 18-10 0.5 Arkansas 37-17 14-14 x
Florida 39-15 17-11 1.5 Mississippi State
34-20 14-14 x
Georgia 31-22 14-13 x Ole Miss
32-21 14-14 x
Vanderbilt
27-25 14-14 x Auburn 29-25 12-16 x
y-Tennessee
24-29 8-20 x y-Alabama 19-34 7-21 x

"x" denotes elimination from division contention; "y" denotes elimination from Hoover; "z" denotes clinched division

Good heavens, Alabama is bad. Anyway ...

It's getting a little confusing to figure out how many games up or down South Carolina is because they have now played the fewest games in the conference. I treated their lead over Kentucky as a half game because if they lose the first game against LSU, the Wildcats will move back into the lead by a slim margin. Or for that matter, this being South Carolina in the final week of 2012, Kentucky would lead by .001 if the games are washed out tomorrow and UK wins its matchup with Mississippi State. (The Gamecocks, for the record, lead by .011 right now.)

Back to the who needs to win what: Barring another rain out, South Carolina now needs to win one more game than Kentucky does while winning at least as many games as Florida does to win the SEC East. Florida needs to win one more than South Carolina and Kentucky to win the division, thought that would give LSU the No. 1 seed and Florida the No. 2 seed. Kentucky needs to win as many as Florida and South Carolina each to get the SEC East; UK can lose one more than LSU and still wrap up the No. 1 seed because the Wildcats hold the tiebreaker.

Florida has at least the No. 4 seed by winning on Thursday. Georgia is in the lead for the No. 5 spot.

The teams with the most on the line right now continue to be Vanderbilt and Auburn, which need wins to try to make sure their record is above .500 after Hoover so they can at least qualify for the NCAA tournament. Remember, the field at Hoover is double-elimination, meaning that any team that doesn't win it will have two losses automatically -- unless they come through a winner's bracket and lose the championship game. (Auburn would have issues making the field without a strong run through the SEC tournament, but you have to make yourself eligible first.)

Despite arguably having the stronger resume, Vanderbilt faces the most daunting odds. If they finish off a sweep of Ole Miss, they will have a winning record at the end of the season -- and no team in their right mind would want to face the Commodores in the regionals at that point. If they win one more in the series, they need one win at the SEC tournament. But if the Rebel Black Bears rally to win the series, Vanderbilt will have to win three games in Hoover to get to a winning record.

Auburn, meanwhile, just needs one win to get there. If they don't get it against Florida, they need a win in Hoover.

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