Gold Medalist

Gavin Cecchini's trip to Colombia was a learning experience. A winning one, but still a learning one.

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One of Ole Miss' top baseball signees in the Class of 2012 just inked was recently a part of gold medal winning Team USA for under-18 players in the Pan-Am Games. Cecchini was a big reason for the team's ultra success.

The Lake Charles, La., middle infielder led the team in hitting with a sparkling .469 average including four doubles, along with 10 RBI and eight stolen bases. Team USA went 9-0 in the process outscoring the opposition 88-8.

They beat, in order, Aruba 15-0 (7 innings), Mexico 3-1, Argentina 16-2, Colombia 4-0, Bahamas 16-0 (5 innings), Puerto Rico 8-2, Panama 9-0, Venezuela 5-1 and Canada, in the gold medal game, 12-2 (8 innings).

With his team clearly in control, Cecchini ended the entire tournament with a walkoff single that scored a runner from third base and allowed the 10-run rule to come into play against Team Canada.

"I did pretty good individually," said Cecchini, by all accounts a cinch to be a high-round draft pick and likely a first-rounder next June. "And the team, we did awesome. We just absolutely demolished teams over there."

As for the learning experience, the conditions were not quite what Cecchini and his teammates are used to in the United States.

"It was a really good experience," said the Barbe High School product. "It makes you realize how good we have it in the states. Colombia was absolutely so poor. Little kids running around (with) no food. No hot water. We ate the same thing every day. Had Wifi only a couple of hours a day."

In one game during the tournament, Cecchini, who played some second base and some shortstop, went 4-for-5 in one game and 3-for-3 in another. Now he's back in Lake Charles catching up on school. He was gone a total of 21 days, which included practice time in Miami before leaving the country.

"We worked out in Miami and played a couple of colleges down there," Cecchini said. "This team had been picked back in the summer at the Tournament of Stars (Cary, N.C.). It's like the top 144 kids. Then they cut the team down from there."

So with a new gold medal in his possession, Cecchini said he will remember the recent events as a special time but now look toward his final season of high school baseball. The draft and anything dealing with it can wait.

Gavin Cecchini
File Photo

"We had a great time down there. But whenever you're playing baseball, you're always having a great time," he said. "It was a great experience and also seeing all the players and coaches again.

"To tell you the truth, my stock keeps going up, but I'm not worried about the draft right now or college right now," he continued. "I'm just worried about the high school season and winning a state championship."

Ole Miss closed out the early signing period with a trio of junior college players to the fall signing class with Austin Blunt, Stuart Turner and Lance Wilson all signing letters of intent.

The three join previously announced signees Brady Bramlett, Gavin Cecchini, Matt Denny, Cameron Dishon, Christian Helsel, Ty Hensley, Zach Irwin, Chase Nyman, Stryker Trahan and Jacob Waguespack as a part of the signing class that will arrive on campus for the 2012-13 academic year.

Blunt comes to Ole Miss from Howard College in Texas where he helped lead his team to a 46-13 record a year ago and advancing to the finals of the Region 5 Tournament – within a game of advancing to the junior college World Series. The right-hander earned All-Conference honorable mention honors as he tallied a 3.78 ERA with a 4-1 record in 50.0 innings of work. He struck out 40 and walked only 14 in his time on the mound.

Turner will join the Rebels after a career at LSU-Eunice where he turned in an impressive first season a year ago. Turner hit .343 for the year with 12 doubles, two home runs and 45 RBI. He also scored 39 runs and went 10-for-13 in steal attempts on the season.

Wilson comes to the Rebels from Shelton State Community College in Alabama, where he helped his squad advance to the Alabama Community College Conference Tournament after posting a 37-19 record in 2011. He hit .301 for the season with eight doubles, 24 RBI and 39 runs scored. He was also an impressive 30-for-31 in steal attempts on the season.

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