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FIRST BASE :: Back in it? Hardly [May 5]

South Carolina did what it needed to do against a perfectly respectable team the past weekend, winning a series against the Florida Gators and moving into a tie for third in the SEC East. A sweep would have been ideal, but two out of three ain't bad.

Unfortunately, it wasn't good enough to make up ground on Georgia, who did the same against Ole Miss. Proving that, in baseball, you don't want to get too far behind.

Net result: The Gamecocks are still 4.5 games behind the spelling-challenged Dawgs for the East lead, with six conference games left for each team. On paper, the Dawgs still have a tougher schedule, but they need to win only two SEC games to eliminate South Carolina.

And it gets worse still. Should Georgia stumble, the most likely place to do it is at Vanderbilt this weekend. The 'Dores have a 1.5 game lead on South Carolina, meaning any Dawgs' loss this weekend comes at the expense of the Gamecocks' chances of catching Vanderbilt. (Their magic number to knock out the Gamecocks is five. A minor note to this is that Vandy had a game canceled against Arkasas, and I'm not sure if the Dores would have to play if the game had an impact on the standings. I doubt it, but it would be a 1908 AL-style conundrum.)

An outcome only Ty Cobb could love.

In any case, South Carolina's chances to win the East got no better over the past weekend. In fact, with the Gamecocks failing to gain ground on the spelling-challenged Dawgs as three more games slipped away, those chances got worse.

The polls gave a mixed diagnosis, with some moving the Gamecocks up and others knocking them down.

So we can continue to dream about Hoover and Omaha. But the SEC East crown will almost certainly come to rest in either Athens or Nashville.

Phil Disher, whose 4-for-4 afternoon helped the Gamecocks take the series. Disher is .307 with 46 RBIs on the year.

The OPS for Justin Smoak, the only Gamecock hitting over .400 right now. (.401, to be exact.) And he's come by it honest, playing in all 48 games. Of course, the 19 HRs don't hurt his OPS.

Wednesday: at Wofford, 7 p.m.
Weekend Series: at Arkansas, 7:35 p.m. Friday, 3:05 p.m. Saturday, 1:05 p.m. Sunday