Gamecocks drop road series at Georgia as Florida takes commanding lead in SEC East

The SEC East race likely ended this week when South Carolina's baseball team dropped a road series at sub-.500 Georgia.

The Gamecocks lost 5-3 in Sunday's rubber match. They avoided being swept with a 5-2 win against the Bulldogs on Saturday.

A two-out, third-inning grand slam from Georgia sophomore Daniel Nichols made the difference Sunday.

"Sometimes in baseball it comes down to one pitch and one opportunity," South Carolina head coach Chad Holbrook said. "They had the bases loaded with a good hitter at the plate, and he made the most of the opportunity. We had the bases loaded, and our guys didn't make the most of the opportunity. That's what it comes down to sometimes, and they capitalized."

South Carolina (35-13, 13-11 SEC) entered the weekend with an opportunity to close ground on SEC East leader Florida, which was playing a road series at Alabama. Instead, the opposite happened.

The Gators (33-15, 18-6) swept the Crimson Tide and have won 11 straight SEC games, dating back to their series in Columbia three weeks ago. With two SEC series left, they have a commanding four-game lead in the East Division.

The Gamecocks are third, a game behind Vanderbilt.

A couple of weeks ago, Holbrook said the SEC race is secondary to getting his team to the College World Series. It's unknown how the Gamecocks' series loss affects their chances of being a national seed, but most analysts considered them on the bubble entering the weekend.

There is still time to gain momentum before the SEC tournament begins in a little more than two weeks. South Carolina hosts Missouri next weekend. The Tigers are the only SEC East team with a worse league record than Georgia.

USC will end its regular season with a trip to Vanderbilt.

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