ATHENS, Ga. — LSU’s showdown in a few days with Texas A&M just got a lot more interesting.
Whoever wins the series will likely have the lead in the Southeastern Conference.
The series finale between LSU and Georgia scheduled for Sunday was rained out and won’t be made up, leaving the Tigers and Aggies in a tie for first place in the SEC before the two clash in a three-game series in Baton Rouge starting Thursday.
LSU (34-6, 12-5 Southeastern Conference) and Texas A&M (35-5, 12-5) are just ahead of Missouri, Florida and Vanderbilt — 12-6 in the league — with four series left in the 10-series SEC season.
The Tigers and Aggies each had a game canceled via rainout.
As he sat in Georgia’s visiting dugout Sunday, coach Paul Mainieri’s focus wasn’t on the immediate impact of the cancellation. It was on the long-term effect of being down a conference game.
“(The) thing about rainouts is you just never know whether they, at the end of the year, help you or hurt you,” the coach said. “That’s why you do everything you can do to play all of your games. What if we end up losing out on a championship by a half-game and you think back to a game where your team was playing well, had a good pitcher going, a rested bullpen and had that team reeling, and you lose out on playing a game?”
The Tigers won the first two games of the series at Georgia by sweeping a doubleheader on Saturday, 4-1 and 9-1, and seemed to have a distinct advantage in the series finale.
Mainieri knew it.
“I view it as disappointed that we got rained out,” he said. “Our team’s playing well. We wanted Austin Bain to go out there and pitch today. Felt confident our team could finish the job this weekend. Feel like we lost out on an opportunity, quite frankly.”
The Tigers and Bulldogs (20-20, 6-11) were scheduled to begin the series finale at noon Sunday before a wave of rain swept through, capping a waterlogged weekend in northeast Georgia.
The teams were rained out Friday night, too.
And now, all eyes turn to what could be a No. 1-vs.-No. 2 showdown in Baton Rouge.
Well, most eyes.
Mainieri says he’s concerned first with Tuesday’s game against Tulane at Alex Box Stadium. The coach hasn’t decided who will start the game, but Bain, who was slated to start Sunday, will “probably” see action in the game at some point with Sunday rained out.
How is LSU’s weekend rotation affected by the short week and Sunday’s rainout?
“We haven’t looked that far ahead yet,” Mainieri said.
Many others have.
After all, it could be the first series between top-five teams in Baton Rouge since No. 1 Florida played No. 5 LSU in March 2011.
“Next weekend is going to be fun,” catcher Kade Scivicque said Saturday. “We’re looking forward to it.”
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter: @DellengerAdv.