Final baseball weekend could be extended to 4 days

By: Matt Jones
Published: Tuesday, May 15, 2018
In this May 23, 2014 photo, John Wagnon cleans the SEC logo before a game at the Southeastern Conference NCAA college baseball tournament in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
In this May 23, 2014 photo, John Wagnon cleans the SEC logo before a game at the Southeastern Conference NCAA college baseball tournament in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

— With poor weather forecast across the South this weekend, an obscure, relatively new Southeastern Conference rule could be brought into play.

In February, SEC athletics directors approved extending the final weekend of the baseball regular season by one day if weather prohibits teams from playing games on Saturday that could affect championship races or seeding for the conference tournament. The final regular-season weekend is played Thursday through Saturday league wide to give teams an extra day of rest before the SEC Tournament, which begins Tuesday, May 22.

Florida (20-7 SEC) has already won the SEC East and enters the final week needing one win to clinch the outright conference championship. Only Arkansas (17-10) can catch the Gators in the overall standings, but the Razorbacks must sweep Georgia, and Florida must be swept at Mississippi State to create a tie for first place.

Florida won two of three games over Arkansas in March and is guaranteed to be the No. 1 seed at the conference tournament, but regular-season titles can be shared.

The forecast looks gloomy at a number of locations along a 350-mile corridor where candidates will play to win the SEC's overall and western division title.

The Gators' series at Mississippi State this weekend will be played with a 30 percent chance of rain all three days, according to the National Weather Service.

The weather for Arkansas' series at Georgia is not quite so promising, with rain chances of 70, 70 and 60 percent during scheduled game times.

Arkansas has a one-game lead over Ole Miss (16-10) in the SEC West race, and LSU (14-13) has an outside shot of creating a tie atop the standings. A 30 percent chance of rain exists all three days of Ole Miss' scheduled series at Alabama, and rain chances vary from 40-80 percent at Auburn, where LSU will play its final three games.

Should a doubleheader be necessary for any game Saturday, both games would be seven innings, in accordance with SEC rules that limit the length of games on the final scheduled day of a series. Two seven-inning games would also be played Sunday, if needed.

Any games played Sunday would have to start by 4 p.m. local time and would not be permitted to resume after 6 p.m., otherwise they would be classified as a rainout.

A 60 percent chance of rain exists Sunday at all four locations with contending teams.

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