Naccarata feeds off rivalry fervor

The environment of LSU-Tulane game in the NCAA Baton Rouge regional was comparable to a heavyweight championship fight. Alex Box Stadium was packed with 7,091 fans with both schools well represented for a rivalry that has become the best in college baseball in recent years.<br><br>LSU third baseman Ivan Naccarata seems to have noticed.

"The Tulane crowd and the LSU crowd, I don't think they like each other much," he remarked.

Though the significance of the rivalry may be lost on the Tigers' Canadian import, Naccarata's play hasn't reflected it. Against the Green Wave Saturday, he was 4-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs to tie his season-high.

"I was going up there and just trying to look for my pitch," Nacarrata said. "I wasn't trying to do a whole lot, just see the ball and hit it. I was trying to put my foot down because I haven't been doing that lately."

Naccarata, a junior from Quebec, touched off a ninth-inning barrage that slammed the door on Tulane with a three-run blast over the right field fence. It was his fifth homer of the year and his first since March 30 at Alabama.

Naccarata is 6-for-9 in the sub-regional, with four runs driven in. On the year, he has a .333 average with 14 doubles, 5 triples, 5 homers and 51 RBIs.

After a red-hot start that included a 19-game hitting streak, Naccarata began to struggle against left-handed pitching and was rotated in and out of the lineup to match the opposing pitcher.

"I haven't really been seeing the ball the way I used to," he said. "It was always like, home runs, try to swing for them on every pitch. But this year, it's more trying to stay on the inside of the ball."

Down the stretch, Naccarata re-entered the lineup full-time and led LSU with a .392 batting average in May. He has become one of LSU's clutch hitters, batting .333 with runners in scoring position.

Naccarata admits he has never seen anything like Alex Box Stadium in the postseason.

"The crowd is so exciting," he said. "When you hear the crowd chanting ‘L-S-U' like that I get shivers. Sometimes I'll be running back to the dugout and my hair will stand up on end."

The 2003 season was the first at LSU for Naccarata, and his lack of experience is not lost on head coach Smoke Laval.

"Ivan still doesn't know what colors we are and he wears them every day," Laval said.

Along with Naccarata, Laval said he is urging players who are going through the post-season experience for the first time to take things one game at a time.

"We have to go by what we can control," said Laval. "After this game, you have to flush it. Ivan's four hits, they're not going to help us tomorrow. Whatever's gone is gone."

This idea has definitely been drilled into the head of Naccarata who, in a season of ups and downs, has learned to take things as they come.

"We won today but we still have to see who we play tomorrow," said Naccarata. "We're just going to flush (Saturday's game) down, and come back tomorrow. We'll be ready."

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