The top eight teams in the Peach Belt Conference are in town this weekend for the conference’s baseball tournament, and the stakes are high.


Two teams – Lander and Columbus State – are essentially locked into the field for the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional, set for next week, while host USC Aiken is close to joining them. The rest are vying for the last remaining bid into the six-team regional, with the winner of today’s game between Georgia College and UNC Pembroke holding the advantage.


Here’s a look at each team in the tournament:


No. 1 Lander

Record: (44-6, 24-6 PBC)


Coach: Kermit Smith


National ranking: 2


Key arms: Brandon White (1.29 ERA, 10 saves, 44 strikeouts in 28 innings) and Dylan Wolchick (10-1, 3.74 ERA)


Key bats: Connor Lewis (.366 BA, 16 HR, 60 RBIs) and Patrick Grady (.421 BA, 77 runs, 25 doubles)


Notes: The Bearcats have five fewer losses than any other team in the region and seem entrenched to host the regional, and they’ve won 14 straight games since a 6-1 loss to USCA on April 5. Sitting right behind them in the Southeast poll is Mount Olive, host of the last three regionals, so Lander will be looking to impress this weekend.


No. 2 Columbus State

Record: (36-14, 23-7 PBC)


Coach: Greg Appleton


National ranking: 10


Key arms: Mike McGinnity (6-0, 3.46 ERA, 1 complete game) and Trey Watson (11 saves, 2.42 ERA)


Key bats: Jackson Oliver (.404 BA, 53 RBIs, 21 stolen bases) and Mike McClellan (.383 BA, 10 home runs, .667 slugging)


Notes: A loss to USCA on April 20 started a three-game skid for the Cougars, but they closed the season with back-to-back wins over North Georgia. CSU boasts the league’s best team ERA at 3.67.


No. 3 USC Aiken

Record: (36-14, 20-10 PBC)


Coach: Kenny Thomas


National ranking: T11


Key arms: Derek Beasley (6-3, 3.95 ERA, 1 complete game) and Ben Black (6-1, 1 save, 3.11 ERA)


Key bats: Tyler Moore (.374 BA, 58 runs, 23 stolen bases) and Ty Barkell (.345 BA, 10 home runs, 57 RBIs)


Notes: USCA has stolen 120 bases, 36 more than its closest competitor in Young Harris. The Pacers are sitting fourth in the regional poll and will be looking to solidify their position in next week’s regional with at least one win.


No. 4 Georgia College

Record: (33-14, 19-10 PBC)


Coach: Tom Carty


National ranking: 28


Key arms: Josh Tayler (7-3, 5.18 ERA) and Spencer Thomas (6-0, 6.09 ERA)


Key bats: Clay Ardeeser (.433 BA, 9 home runs, 59 RBIs) and Steve Hazel (.389 BA, 12 home runs, 50 RBIs)


Notes: Thanks to a .338 team batting average, the Bobcats have overcome a team ERA of 5.87 to hold a tentative spot in the regional. They’re also one of just two teams to beat national No. 1 Tampa, a 13-5 home win on February 16.


No. 5 UNC Pembroke

Record: (33-17, 17-13 PBC)


Coach: Paul O’Neil


National ranking: N/A


Key arms: Garrett Hickman (8-3, 3.53 ERA, 2 complete games) and Andy Sullivan (7-1, 2.97 ERA, 1 complete game)


Key bats: Daniel Fraga (.396 BA, 84 hits, 21 stolen bases) and Jordan Edgerton (.364 BA, 9 home runs, 9 strikeouts in 217 at-bats)


Notes: The Braves lost two of three in a home series with GRU Augusta to close out the season and will need to work to get into the regional. They will definitely need to knock of Georgia College today and will also likely need at least one more win after dropping two of three to the Bobcats earlier in the year.


No. 6 Armstrong Atlantic

Record: (27-19, 15-15 PBC)


Coach: Calvain Culberson


National ranking: N/A


Key arms: Ethan Bader (10-1, 3.15 ERA, 114 strikeouts, 4 complete games) and Ryan Good (6-4, 3.92 ERA, 3 saves)


Key bats: R.J. Dennard (.400 BA, 11 home runs, 13 doubles) and Clayton Miller (.343 BA, 5 home runs, 3 triples)


Notes: Like each of the last three teams in the PBC field, the Pirates need to win the tournament to keep their season alive. A nine-game winning streak in April helped push Armstrong into the sixth spot for the event.


No. 7 Montevallo

Record: (29-20, 12-17 PBC)


Coach: Chandler Rose


National ranking: N/A


Key arms: Alex Guilford (4-2, 5.57 ERA, 11 walks) and Aron McRee (2.56 ERA, 6 saves, .193 batting average allowed)


Key bats: Will Fulmer (.383 BA, 74 hits, .527 on-base pct.) and Jackson Slaid (.327 BA, 10 home runs, 55 RBIs)


Notes: Montevallo managed a 10-4 road win over first-round opponent Columbus State on March 15 as part of a three-game series that the Cougars won. Guilford allowed just one run in 6? innings to lead the Falcons to victory.


No. 8 Francis Marion

Record: (28-21, 12-17 PBC)


Coach: Art Inabinet


National ranking: N/A


Key arms: Jordy Santak (5-5, 4.77 ERA, 51 strikeouts) and Jeffrey Stoner (1.19 ERA, 7 saves, 43 strikeouts)


Key bats: Michael Wilson (.404 BA, 80 hits, 7 home runs) and Isaac Davenport (.333 BA, 49 runs, 13 stolen bases)


Notes: Francis Marion won six of its last eight games to secure the final spot in the tournament field. The Patriots picked up a 10-7 road win against first-round foe Lander on March 9 in a game that saw six FMU pitchers take the mound.


Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University. Follow him on Twitter @ASJTimm.