(Andy Hutchins/SB Nation)
No. 3 Florida blew a late lead to Auburn and were never able to get it back, resulting in a 5-4 win for the Tigers.
Meanwhile, in Columbia, S.C., the second-ranked LSU Tigers took down the top-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks, 3-2 in 10 innings. The win for LSU, which occurred prior to the conclusion of Florida's game with Auburn, secured the Tigers at least a share of the regular season SEC title.
All Florida had to do was beat Auburn to clinch its own share of the SEC crown.
The Gators jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning. After a Brian Johnson single to lead off the inning and a Daniel Pigott double to put runners on second and third, Casey Turgeon ripped a bases-clearing triple to the right-field corner to put Florida up 3-0.
Auburn got on the board in the bottom half of the inning when Zach Alvord knocked in Patrick Savage on an RBI double off of Florida pitcher Karsten Whitson.
Whitson pitched a solid game, giving up two runs (one earned) on three hits, fanning two batters and walking two. He was only able to last five innings, however, unlike the pitchers from Florida's wins the previous two nights. And unlike the previous games, when the bullpen was called upon Saturday afternoon, the game was still tight, with Florida leading 4-2.
Steven Rodriguez took the loss for the Gators. He recorded the final out in the sixth inning and returned to pitch the seventh. Rodriguez gave up three runs on four hits in the seventh, and Auburn took a 5-4 lead.
The Gators mounted a rally in the ninth inning. With one out, Preston Tucker singled to right field, and Mike Zunino followed with his 24th double of the season to put runners on second and third. Brian Johnson sent a fly ball to left field. Tucker tagged up at third but was thrown out at the plate by Auburn right fielder Creede Simpson for the final out of the game.
The loss resulted in Florida missing a share of the SEC regular season title. It also means that, with Mississippi State's 11-3 win over Kentucky, that the Gators will be the 3-seed at the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala., and open against Auburn.