Tigers take advantage of Bulldog miscues

HOOVER, Ala.—In a rematch of the 2001 SEC Tournament title game, the LSU Tigers moved one game way from the championship game with a 7-2 victory over Mississippi State Friday night.<br>The Tigers now move onto the semifinals and play Saturday night at 8 p.m. against the winner of the Arkansas/Mississippi State elimination game.

The Tigers must be beaten twice in order to not advance to the championship game.

Despite being out-hit by the Bulldogs 11-4, the Tigers took advantage of four Mississippi State errors en route to the victory.

LSU head coach Smoke Laval was pleased to see his team make Mississippi State pay for its mistakes.

"We finally had some good fortune and it ended up working for us," Laval said.

The Tigers (39-17-1) took an early lead in the second inning as they scored three runs on two hits. Third baseman Ivan Naccarata led the third inning attack as he launched a two-run double into the right field gap to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead. Catcher Matt Liuzza added a RBI single to push the LSU lead to 3-0.

Naccarata was the leading hitter for LSU, going 2-for-3 with three RBIs.

Despite being out-hit by the Bulldogs, Naccarata said the Tigers got the hits when it counted.

"It sometimes happens like that," Naccarata said. "Sometimes you don't get the breaks. In the game against Arkansas we had double-digit hits and three home runs but we came out with the loss. A game like this evens everything out. That's just baseball."

Mississippi State (39-17-1) answered with two runs in the third inning but the Tigers put the game out of reach in their half of the third inning, as they answered the Bulldogs with two runs without the benefit of a hit.

LSU junior right-hander Nate Bumstead (10-2) picked up the complete game victory, scattering 11 hits while striking out four.

Making his first career post-season start, Bumstead said he felt himself get stronger throughout the game.

"It was unbelievable how things turned out tonight," Bumstead said. "It seemed everything I threw up there they (Mississippi State) smashed but it was just at people.

"For the first couple of innings I was trying to feel for the mound and get things going but by the end of the fourth or fifth inning, everything just seemed to be coming together."

Laval said that the Tigers pitching staff is peaking at the right time.

"Right now all the cards are playing right," Laval said. "We're turning over aces and it's working. We still got to get Bo (Pettit) on track and hopefully he will tomorrow. That would be really nice."

Having to only win one more game to reach the tournament championship for the second time in two years, Naccarata said the Tigers are right where they want to be.

"It's great," Naccarata said. "I don't know if this victory clinches a Super Regional but it definitely gets us closer. It helps us be able to play in Baton Rouge for the next two weekends hopefully."


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