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S. Carolina, Vanderbilt stay alive in SEC tourney

The Associated Press

HOOVER — Mike Cisco pitched seven strong innings, Travis Jones hit a two-run single and South Carolina beat Florida 5-3 on Friday to stay alive in the Southeastern Conference tournament and end the Gators' season.

The Gamecocks (42-17) face Arkansas on Saturday, needing to win twice to advance to the championship game against a team that has outscored opponents 12-0 in the tournament.

The loss gave the Gators (29-30) a losing record, making them ineligible for an NCAA regional. They have failed to make a regional the past two years after advancing to the College World Series championship game in 2005.

Cisco (6-2) allowed only one hit after giving up three in the first inning, including a two-run homer by Matt LaPorta. He wound up striking out eight and walking one and worked around an error and a walk to retire 13 of the last 15 batters he faced.

"I don't feel like I did anything different in the later innings," Cisco said. "I left the ball up against LaPorta, and when you leave the ball up and make a mistake against a team like Florida, you're going to pay for it."

The Gators nearly mounted a rally in the ninth. Josh Jeffords issued a pair of two-out walks and gave up Cole Figueroa's RBI single, but Avery Barnes grounded out to third to end the game with LaPorta standing on deck and runners on second and third.

"I saw him (LaPorta) over there and said, Aw man, here comes 'The Natural' all over again," South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said. "The only chance to beat Florida is to try to contain him."

The Gamecocks mostly did contain the SEC player of the year. LaPorta got his first and only hit of the tournament with that two-run homer in the first, a towering shot to left.

But South Carolina scored three in the second, capped by Jones' two-run single off Patrick Keating, who was making his first college start.

"We went out there and played hard and gave it all we had," Florida coach Pat McMahon said. "We didn't give up in the ninth inning when we were down three runs."

Vanderbilt 15, Tennessee 2: Pedro Alvarez went 4-for-5 with three doubles and four RBIs to lead Vanderbilt to a victory in an elimination game.

The top-seeded Commodores (48-11) have to beat Mississippi twice Saturday to play for their first tournament championship since 1980. They lost to the Rebels in last year's title game.

Freshman Mike Minor (9-1) overcame a rough start to carry a shutout into the eighth inning, striking out eight and allowing two runs in 7-2/3 innings. He walked the first two batters he faced but nobody else and was staked to a 5-0 lead in the first two innings.

J.P. Arencibia finally got Tennessee (34-25) on the board on an RBI double with two outs in the eighth, and Minor exited after giving up two more hits and throwing 118 pitches.

Vandy added seven more runs in the ninth to improve to 5-2 against its in-state rival this season, despite a 6-4 loss Wednesday. The Volunteers will find out Monday if they earned an NCAA regional bid.

Alvarez drove in three runs in the final two innings. Alex Feinberg had a two-run double and Parker Hanks went 3-for-4 and scored three times for Vandy.

Ryan Flaherty's RBI single in the first extended his hitting streak to 27 games, trying Greg Thomas' Vanderbilt record set in 1991.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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