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Friday, May 18, 2007

Backs to the wall

After a 4-1 loss at No. 1 Vanderbilt Thursday night, LSU likely needs to win its remaining two games at Vanderibilt to have a shot at making the SEC Tournament. The Tigers (12-15-1) currently trail Kentucky (12-15-1), Tennessee (12-14) and Alabama (14-14) for the eighth and final spot in the league tournament.

Alabama's win over Mississippi State and Tennessee's victory over Florida hurt the Tigers.

They remain tied on paper with Kentucky, but Kentucky has the tiebreaker because it took two of three games at LSU this season.

LSU does have some things going for it entering tonight's 7 p.m. game and the regular season finale at noon Saturday. The Tigers still have their best pitcher to throw in junior right-hander Jared Bradford (10-3, 4.35 ERA), who could start or relieve in tonight's game. They also have freshman right-hander T.J. Forrest (2-2, 2.97 ERA) coming off his best performance of the season on Sunday when he held Florida to no runs and two hits in four innings with four strikeouts for his first save. The scheduled starter for tonight's game is sophomore left-hander Ryan Byrd (6-1, 4.57 ERA), who got the win over Florida Sunday but allowed seven hits and four runs in five innings.

The best news for LSU is that Vanderbilt clinched the SEC overall title Thursday night with its win and Arkansas' loss to Ole Miss. Maybe Vandy coach Tim Corbin will treat his next two games as they do in the Major Leagues after clinching a division or wild card. It's an off day for key starters and front line pitchers as the manager sets up his pitching rotation for the postseason. Even if Vandy does start its scheduled lineup, the Commodores will not have a sense of urgency.

If LSU closes with two wins and Kentucky loses its next two, the Tigers are in. Even one win by LSU over the No. 1 team in the nation over the next two days could help. There is a slight chance that LSU could not make the SEC Tournament and make the NCAA Tournament. It has happened before.Mississippi State finished 35-21 and 12-17 in the SEC last season for ninth and did not make the SEC Tournament. It still made it to an NCAA Regional, though. In 2005, 34-26 and 13-17 Auburn made an NCAA Regional without making the SEC Tournament. In 2004, Mississippi State finished 35-24 and 13-17 and made an NCAA Regional without making the SEC Tournament. In 2003, 37-21-1 and 13-16-1 Florida performed the same trick.

Should LSU not qualify for the SEC Tournament and beat Vandy twice, it would finish 31-24.

Two wins over a No. 1 would likely jump LSU's RPI from 50 back into the 30s and it would have a chance for an at-large bid. One win over Vanderbilt might not do it. Should LSU not make either tournament, it can look back to losing two of three last weekend at home to Florida. LSU went into that series with a 38 RPI and dropped 12 spots.


Anonymous Lana said...

Keep up the good work.

8:25 AM  

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