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Gators, LSU, USC take first day wins

By By Mark Etheridge / Special to The Star
May 23, 2002
HOOVER, Ala. After falling behind 2-0, Florida scored seven straight runs to advance to the winner's bracket in the opening game of the SEC Tournament Wednesday morning.
Gator starter Jimmy Ramshaw logged a complete game allowing only five hits. He struck out seven and walked two. Only one of the two runs were earned.
Jason Fellows started for Georgia and gave up three runs in three and a third innings. Jeffrey Carswell worked the final 4.2 innings throwing 75 pitches.
Ben Harrison hit a three run homer to center in the fourth to give the Gators the lead.
Florida added a run in the seventh on a wild pitch after a two-out error kept the inning alive.
The Gators broke open a tight game in the eighth with three runs to put the game away.
The loss dealt the Bulldogs NCAA Regional hopes a real blow. At 30-26 they are squarely on the bubble.
Florida will play Thursday at 5 pm versus Alabama. Georgia will face Mississippi State at 10 a.m.
Auburn 1
Imagine how good he would be rested. Pitching on three days rest, LSU lefthander Lane Mestepey led the Bengal Tigers to a 2-1 victory over Auburn in the opening round of the SEC Tournament on Wednesday.
In a throwback pitchers duel, Mestepey and Auburn's Colby Paxton battled back and forth throughout the briskly paced game. Mestepey was coming off a complete game performance on Saturday where he blanked Alabama. Today the southpaw showed no ill effects from the quick turnaround. In fact, Mestepey pitched as well as he has all year.
Mestepey (11-3) worked a complete game throwing only 97 pitches. He allowed six hits and one run. He walked one and struck out three.
Paxton (8-5) held the LSU offense to only three hits but was victimized by a one long hit, a home run by Sean Barker. Paxton struck out nine and walked three in his complete game performance. Paxton did not allow a hit after the home run.
LSU scored their only runs of the game in the fourth when Sean Barker hit a two-run homer following a Wally Pontiff walk.
Auburn scored their run in the seventh as Trent Pratt led off with a double and advanced to third and then home on a pair of infield grounders, one a single by Schade.
Auburn made it interesting in the ninth. Down to their last out, Tug Hulett laced a double to left-center. Mestepey coaxed Scott Schade to ground out to third to end the game.
Auburn returns to action Thursday at 1 p.m. versus the loser of tonight's South Carolina – Arkansas game. LSU faces the winner of that game at 8 p.m. Thursday.
South Carolina Arkansas should be sent in an hour or so.
South Carolina 10
Arkansas 1
Gary Bell pitched a six hit complete game striking out thirteen as top seeded South Carolina beat Arkansas 10-1 in the opening round of the SEC Tournament. The Senior left-hander Bell came back after sitting out last weekend and appeared to be rejuvenated.
Bell's thirteen strikeouts was a career high. His record improved to 9-3 with the win. USC leftfielder Garris Gonce added a home run and three RBI to pace the offensive attack.
South Carolina jumped on Arkansas starter Charlie Isaacson (4-7) in the first inning. Steve Thomas plated a run with a triple to left and scored on a Garris Gonce hit.
USC added another pair in the third. Drew Meyer singled and stole second. Steve Thomas walked. After a sacrifice, Trey Dyson singled scoring both runners. Gonce added a two-run homer in the fifth scoring Brian Buscher.
Arkansas broke up the Bell shutout in the seventh as Cody Clark had an RBI single.
USC scored four in the seventh. After a run scored on an error, Kevin Melillo knocked in a pair of runs with a double. He scored on a Justin Harris rarity, an infield double.
USC won despite not having the services of SEC Player of the Year Yaron Peters who sat out the game with a hamstring injury.
Arkansas (30-25) will face Auburn at 1 p.m. Thursday in an elimination game. South Carolina (45-12) faces LSU at 8 p.m. Thursday in the winner's bracket.