LSU Defeats Auburn, 2-1, In Opening Round of SEC Tournament
May 22, 2002
HOOVER, AL- Auburn’s Colby Paxton and LSU’s Lane Mestepey combined for an outstanding pitching dual Wednesday in the first round of the Southeastern Conference, with Mestepey and the ninth-ranked Fighting Tigers coming away with a 2-1 victory. LSU improved to 39-17 on the season, while Auburn fell to 34-23.
“That was a heck of a ballgame,” Auburn head coach Steve Renfroe said. “I thought Colby Paxton was as good as it gets. Lane Mestepey was Lane Mestepey and LSU made the home run stand up. You have to tip your hat to the pitchers.”
Both Paxton and Mestepey pitched complete games as the winning runs came in the fourth inning from the bat of LSU’s Sean Barker. After Wally Pontiff led off with a walk, Barker followed with a two-run home run to left-center field, for the Fighting Tigers’ only runs of the evening.
Auburn cut the lead to 2-1 in the seventh inning on Scott Schade’s infield single scoring Trent Pratt from third base. Pratt led off with a double to right field and advanced to third on Tug Hulett’s ground out. Schade then beat out a slow roller to the left side, scoring Pratt.
Tug Hulett doubled to left-center with two outs in the ninth, however the Tigers rally fell short as Schade grounded out to third base for the final out of the game.
Paxton (8-5) was credited with the loss after allowing two runs on just three hits with a career-high nine strikeouts. Paxton, who did not allow a hit after Barker’s homer, retired 15 of the last 18 batters he faced with the only base runners reaching courtesy of two walks and a hit batter.
Mestepey improved to 11-3 on the season after allowing one run on six hits with a walk and three strikeouts. It was the left-hander’s second consecutive complete game. Mestepey shut out Alabama, 3-0, on May 18 in Baton Rouge.
Scott Schade led Auburn with two hits and the Tigers’ lone RBI of the evening.
Auburn will play the loser of Wednesday night’s South Carolina-Arkansas game on Thursday at 1 p.m. CT at the Hoover Met.