Three games this weekend and nothing changed for the Gators and Gamecocks in their battle for the SEC pennant. With Florida sweeping Georgia and the Cocks sweeping Arkansas on the road, each team is 20-7 in the SEC. Their series beginning Thursday amounts to a best-of-three playoff for the SEC.
At times this weekend, the Gators (37-12, 20-7, No. 4) did not look like a contender. Aside from Sunday's 9-3 win, in which freshman Brian Johnson (5-2) had another strong outing, UF could not put away the Bulldogs. That is until the 9th inning of each game when UF won on walkoff hits.
The most dramatic was sophomore Ben Mahan's solo homer to lead off the 9th Saturday and give the Gators a 4-3 win. In the top of the inning, the Bulldogs tied it off UF closer Kevin Chapman, who got his third win instead of a blown save. Florida was held to six hits, the same amount they had in Friday's 4-3 win. Down 3-2 in the bottom of the 9th, the Gators scored two runs on no hits, two errors and two walks as Georgia was unable to throw anyone out on UF sacrifice bunts. After UF tied the game on a throwing error, Mike Zunino knocked in Daniel Pigott on a sacrifice fly to win the game.
Heading into Thursday's SEC finale (the SEC schedules the last weekend series Thursday-Saturday), the Gators need the bats to wake up. To have six hits in consecutive games, with the aluminum bat and below average pitching, is not very good. South Carolina has the best pitching staff in the SEC (3.62) and it will take a huge effort to take two of three in Columbia.