Big fourth inning propels LSU to series sweep

The hit parade spilled over into Sunday afternoon as the LSU Tigers blistered Tennessee for the third time in as many days. <br><br> After LSU (30-13-1, 15-5-1 in SEC) drilled the Vols 17-4 Friday night and rallied back for a 10-6 win on Saturday, Smoke Laval's team completed the series sweep with an impressive 15-4 tilt Sunday afternoon at Alex Box Stadium.

"Today was a good day," Laval said. "Games like that happen sometimes. We are playing probably as good as we can right now. There is no doubt in my mind Tennessee is a much better club than they showed today."

Before heading to Starkville for a key SEC series with Mississippi State this weekend, LSU will travel to New Orleans taking on arch rival Tulane Tuesday night in Louisiana Superdome.

College Sports Television, the first television network devoted exclusively to college sports, will televise live that game at 8 p.m. The game telecast will be preceded by a special live one-hour CSTV Primetime program offering a look around college sports with news and highlights, followed by a live preview of the LSU-Tulane game.

The Tigers have begun distancing themselves from the field a bit. Both Auburn and Mississippi State, LSU's closest adversaries in the overall SEC standing, lost their respective weekend series. Auburn (32-13, 13-8 in SEC) dropped Sunday's rubber match at Vanderbilt 3-0 while Mississippi State (30-12-1, 10-10-1 in SEC) was roughed up 14-6 in Sunday's meeting with Florida. LSU now holds a two and half game lead over the Auburn Tigers heading into the weekend. The Bayou Bengals own a full, three-game advantage over the Bulldogs.

On Sunday, it would not have mattered how well Tennessee (24-20, 8-13 in SEC) played, it would have been a tall task for any team to have beaten this red-hot Tiger squad.

Clay Harris belted a 2-RBI single in the bottom of the first inning giving LSU a quick 2-0 start.

The score remained 2-0 in the Tigers favor until the floodgates opened in the home half of the fourth inning when LSU plated 11 runs blowing the game wide open 13-0.

The Tigers' onslaught in the fourth began with the first five LSU batters reaching safely. Ivan Naccarata and Ryan Patterson led off with back-to-back doubles, with Naccarata scoring on Patterson's hit for a 3-0 lead.

Patterson moved to third on a ground ball single by Jon Zeringue, and then scored on another ground ball single, this one by Matt Liuzza, extending the pad to 4-0.

With runners on first and second, Bruce Sprowl laid down a perfect drag bunt, sprinting to an uncovered first base to load the bases for J.C. Holt, whose fielder's choice ground ball retired Holt for the first out but scored Zeringue from third.

Aaron Hill flied to center for the second out, and then Blake Gill hit a ground ball to shortstop Brian Cleveland that would apparently retire the side, but Cleveland couldn't get a handle on the ball, allowing Liuzza to score and leaving runners Holt and Gill safe on the error.

As was the case with a fifth inning error on Saturday that led to four unearned runs, this miscue opened the floodgates for the Tigers.

"When the guy before you gets a hit and you know you can get a hit also, it gives you a lot of confidence," Patterson said. "We definitely have been feeding off each other."

Harris greeted Tennessee reliever Luke Hochevar with an RBI single, and after walking Naccarata, Hochevar gave up the second hit of the inning to Patterson, a three-run home run deep into the left field bleachers to give LSU a 11-0 cushion.

"The runs we have been putting up are unreal," Harris said. "Hopefully we can keep that up."

Hochevar's troubles weren't over, as he yielded another single to Zeringue, an RBI double to Liuzza and a run-scoring base hit to Sprowl before finally ending the inning by retiring Holt on a ground ball.

Patterson finished his day 3-for-4 with 4 RBI, while Zeringue was 4-for-4 with three runs scored to spearhead the Tigers' 19-hit attack, tying a season high for hits also achieved at Centenary on February 11.

"I had a real good weekend," Patterson said. "I saw the ball real well. Everything seemed slow, like it was coming in slow motion. You work so hard for weekends like this. You have to enjoy it while it lasts."

In all, LSU sent 15 batters to the plate in the fourth inning, banging out 10 hits and scoring the most runs in one inning since a 14-run third inning on May 27, 2000 against Louisiana-Monroe in an NCAA regional game.

Nate Bumstead (7-1) got the win for LSU pitching seven full innings. He allowed two runs (both earned) on four hits with seven strikeouts.

Tiger Blitz Top Stories