It has to be the craziest finish to any Southeastern Conference baseball season ever. On the final day of the season, eight teams will play for championships.
Senior Editor Phillip Marshall
Auburn, Alabama and Mississippi State are tied atop the SEC West. Florida, Vanderbilt and South Carolina are tied atop the East and the overall standings. Arkansas and Ole Miss, who were rained out Friday and will play a doubleheader today, are a half game behind the three frontrunners in the West.
In the West, the division winner will have only 15 wins. And if Arkansas and Ole Miss split and Auburn, Alabama and Mississippi State lose, 14 wins could win the West.
Before this season, it had taken at least an 18-12 record to win the West in every season since the current division format was established in 1992.
There are too many possible scenarios to explore them all. Here’s what we know about Auburn, a 13-4 winner at Tennessee on Friday. With a win, it will earn a share of a second straight division title. With a win and a Mississippi State loss, it will be the top seed from the West and the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament next week.
Sophomore Slade Smith, a loyal Auburn man since childhood, will be the man on the mound.
Auburn has tiebreakers on every team in the West but Mississippi State. But because the Tigers were swept by Mississippi State, they can’t be the West’s top seed if Mississippi State beats LSU today. The Bulldogs rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth Friday to eliminate LSU from SEC Tournament contention, 6-5.
That could bode well for Mississippi State today. LSU suddenly finds itself doomed to the cellar and with little at stake.
Auburn could win the West outright if it wins, Alabama and Mississippi State lose and Arkansas and Ole Miss split their doubleheader.
If Auburn, Alabama and Mississippi State win and either Arkansas or Ole Miss sweeps today’s doubleheader, there will be a four-way tie for the championship.
If Auburn, Alabama and Mississippi State all lose and Arkansas and Ole Miss split their doubleheader, five of the six West Division teams will share the championship at 14-16. And one of those co-champions will be left out of the SEC Tournament. If I am doing my math correctly, Ole Miss would be the odd team out.
At the same time, if Auburn, Alabama and Mississippi State lose and either Arkansas or Ole Miss sweeps, the sweeper would win the West outright.
What will happen if Ole Miss and Arkansas are rained out again, thus wiping out the final two games of the series? We’re not even going to go there.
If it’s all giving you a headache, you’re not alone.
Remember that tiebreakers are only for the purpose of tournament seeding. If there is a tie at the top involving two or more teams, all are considered division champions.
The bottom line for the Tigers is, if they win, they will secure a share of the West Division championship and, along with it, a probable NCAA regional bid.
It’s going to be a wild and crazy day to end a wild and crazy season.