Tigers outlast Northeastern

A potent combination of Jake Tompkins' arm and J.C. Holt's bat propelled LSU to an 11-8 victory over Northeastern University in game 1 of the NCAA tournament sub-regional in Alex Box Stadium.

Tompkins, who has struggled all year with a 2-5 record, battled for seven strong innings. He allowed four runs on nine hits, struck out eight batters and walked one.

"He had four of those strikeouts with runners on second or third and the infield back," noted LSU coach Smoke Laval. "He had to get them himself, and we didn't really care if he walked them, because we'd have the double play set up. Some of the younger guys might not understand that yet."

"You're trying to prevent runs from scoring of course," said Tompkins. "When it's 1-1 and you've got guys on, you've got to strike them out."

Tompkins was backed up by 15 hits, with four coming from J.C. Holt. The sophomore from Sieper, La., was 4-for-5 with two homeruns and five RBIs. It was Holt's first multi-homerun game, and a career-high in hits and runs driven in.

After the game, Holt was modest about his exploits.

"There's not much to say really," he told reporters with a shrug. "Four hits, it was a big day. I wasn't expecting the two homeruns, I would expect like a double or two and a bunch of singles. The wind was blowing a little bit and I just stayed on the ball and tried to get good hacks off."

Holt left a lasting impression on Northeastern starting pitcher Justin Hedrick. "I felt like he knew exactly what I was going to throw," Hedrick said.

Holt got the Tigers on the board in the bottom of the first with a solo home run to left field.

Tompkins battled hard in the first few innings, working his way out of several jams, but Northeastern managed to tie the game in the top of the fourth with an RBI double by second baseman Omar Pena.

The Tigers quickly broke the tie in the bottom of the inning. With runners on first and second catcher Matt Liuzza smacked a fielder's choice ground ball to shortstop Arman Sidhu. The play looked like a sure double play, but Jon Zeringue ran over Sidhu at second and kept him from making the throw to first. Ivan Naccarata made it home for a 2-1 LSU lead.

Bruce Sprowl singled, and Holt followed him with another homer, a three-run blast that sailed into the left field bleachers.

All five of Holt's homeruns in 2003 have been to the opposite field from the left-hander.

"When he's hitting that way, that's when he's dangerous," said Laval. "That means he's on the ball. He's getting his foot down and trusting his hands."

LSU piled on five more runs in the sixth. Holt brought in his fifth run with a double, and Aaron Hill followed him up with a two-run double to the deep corner of left field

Blake Gill and Naccarata brought in runs with singles, and LSU took a 10-1 lead. The final run for LSU came on a solo home run blast by Clay Harris in the eighth.

Tompkins ran out of gas in the seventh, and gave up three quick runs before getting out of the inning.

Chad Vaught and Greg Smith finished up the game. And though they made Tiger fans nervous by giving up four more runs, they allowed LSU relievers Billy Sadler and Jason Determan to rest another day.

"That's what was supposed to happen," said Laval. "It was very important for Jake to go and pitch deep and now we have Sadler and Determan. It's great to be Jake right now he can just sit back and watch."

Nate Bumstead (10-2, 3.86) is slated to start the Tigers next game at 3 p.m. Saturday against the winner of Tulane and UNC-Wilmington.

Hill made no bones about the team he wants to face. The reigning SEC Player of the Year says bring on the Green Wave.

"They're our biggest rival and the fans will love it," says Hill. "We owe it to them, and they're a good ball club, and I hope they bring their best game tonight."

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