Alabama and Mississippi State are the first two teams to be eliminated from the Southeastern Conference tournament. Florida got a huge performance from third-team preseason All-American righthander Bryan Augenstien against the Crimson Tide to even its overall record at 29-29 and preserve its NCAA tournament aspirations. Augenstien struck out eight and allowed just two runs in a complete-game victory. The Crimson Tide fell to 31-26 on the season and could be slipping toward the wrong side of the bubble. If Florida can win one more game, it will be assured of finishing with a .500 record and qualifying for a regional, and the Gators will almost certainly get an at-large bid over Alabama. The Tide could still become the SEC’s eighth NCAA tournament team thanks to its strong finish in the regular season, when it won three of its final four series, but the two-and-’cue showing in Hoover means Alabama’s fate is really up in the air. Of course, Florida still has to come up with a victory against the loser of the South Carolina-Arkansas game–no small order. If the Gators lose, Alabama is likely to get in as the SEC’s seventh regional team.
Mississippi State, meanwhile, had the misfortune of facing the nation’s best pitcher in an elimination game for the Bulldogs and for No. 1 Vanderbilt. And David Price turned in a performance worthy of his pedigree, striking out 11 and allowing just two runs on five hits in a complete game, as Vandy escaped with a 3-2 win. The Bulldogs have no shot at hosting a regional now, having lost eight of their last 10 games, and they might be in danger of falling to a No. 3 seed in a regional despite their strong RPI (22).
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