State hosts Gators back to tournament wall

Lane Forsythe (Photo: Gene Swindoll, Gene Page, 247Sports)

Mississippi State (25-20, 9-12) hosts Florida (26-18, 8-13) this weekend in a crucial series for both teams’ postseason hopes. Both teams entered the 2022 campaign with high expectations. The Gators were chosen by some to win the Southeastern Conference, while the Bulldogs were expected to be a shoe as regional hosts in the NCAA. There has been talk of both teams coming to Omaha.

With only three weekends remaining in the regular season, the two teams have to scramble just to get to Hoover and the SEC Tournament. If the league tournament started this weekend, both would be on the pitch. The outlook for the NCAA Tournament is a little murkier, to say the least.

The state has the best overall record and the best SEC tally, but Florida is way ahead on RPI. This presents a resume-building opportunity for the Bulldogs. Simply put, State needs to win the series at the bare minimum. A sweep could change the trajectory of the season, but a three-game sweep from a talented Gator team is probably easier said than done.

Neither team will have their best pitcher available. Landon Sims was sidelined after the Tulane series. Florida has learned to live without left-handed starter Hunter Barco in recent weeks. The weekend rotation for State has been settled for a few weeks now, while Florida is still seeing guys move into new roles.

Florida hasn’t been a strong team on the road this season, going 7-8 in real road games. Two of those road wins came earlier this season in Miami, so the SEC record is a bit less appealing.

Can the Gators be swept away? You bet. Coach Kevin O’Sullivan’s side have had two winless weekends this season. #1 Tennessee and Georgia both managed to take all three. On the opening weekend of the season, Liberty won two games in Gainesville.

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On the other side of the ledger, State only swept one series, Princeton. The Bulldogs had their chances, but let Alabama and Auburn drop out of Game 3. The state has been swept once this year and it was at the hands of LSU in Starkville.

It’s hard to know what to think of the weekend. The only thing we know for sure is that the stakes are high. Not brought up in a national sense, but in a fight for the sense of the season. The winner of the weekend will feel better about their place in the SEC standings and probably a bit better about their postseason chances. There’s a lot to play for and both teams will likely do their best for Dudy Noble Field.


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