Early outburst propels Tigers to 7-1 win

Paced by a six-run first inning and a career night at the plate by freshman Matt Horwath, the LSU Tigers defeated Louisiana-Monroe 7-1 Tuesday night at Alex Box Stadium.

After starting pitcher Michael Bonura retired the Indians in the first inning, centerfielder J.C. Holt led off the bottom of the inning with a walk. Four pitches later Holt scored on a double by Ryan Patterson to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.


Louisiana-Monroe starter Matt Green mishandled a weak ground ball hit by Blake Gill and threw it into right field, scoring Patterson and allowing Gill to advance to second base. Nick Stavinoha's RBI single scored Patterson and LSU had a 3-0 lead. A sacrifice fly by Jonathan Zeringue and a two-out double by Holt in his second at-bat of the inning capped off the scoring for the Tigers. Holt finished the game 2-3 with two RBI.


"We came out and played well tonight," Holt said. "I can set the tone because when the leadoff man gets on and the rest of the team hits the ball real well everything just seems to fall into place."


One of the most dangerous hitters in the Southeastern Conference, Holt credits off-season work in helping him to be able to hit the ball the other way.


"It's been my strength my whole life," Holt said. "Big guys like Zeringue and Patterson can hit the ball the other way very successfully. It is a lot better for me if I go the other way with the ball. That is what I concentrate on doing whenever I am at the plate."


LSU head coach Smoke Laval was pleased with his team's effort but expects to improve as the season progresses.


"It was just about how you would have had it scripted out," Laval said of the game. "We have to give our young pitchers the ball a couple of more times to get their butterflies out, but they all showed me that they are tremendous competitors.


"We had a big first inning at the plate, but we did have some hard outs after that. We did draw seven walks and sometimes walks are not that good because they kill momentum. We did a good job with two outs. Whenever a guy was on base we did what we had to do."


Laval said his team must continue to learn to keep their focus throughout the entire game against every opponent, something his team has struggled with thus far.


"The game's never over, but if you ever want to stay in the ballgame and stay focused, what a better time than tonight," Laval said. "We just couldn't keep our focus."


Louisiana-Monroe's (1-1) lone run came in the third inning. With one out right-fielder Glenn Jackson singled and Andy Jones drew a walk. A Bonura balk advanced both runners into scoring position and Jackson scored on a groundout by third baseman Ben Jones.


The Tigers also got a career from Horwath. The freshman shortstop went 3-3 with a run driven in and showed no ill effects from an arm injury that made him miss the entire 2003 season.


"I didn't swing the bat that well last weekend so I worked out with Turtle before the game and we went over some things and it showed out there tonight."


Playing on one of the colder days of the year, Horwath said his arm was sore but he didn't feel any pain making the throw from shortstop.


"In the cold weather like it was tonight it tightens up a little," Horwath said. "In Florida it felt great. I have no trouble right now making any throws."


Bonura (1-0) picked up his first career victory at LSU after five innings of one run ball on four hits. He struck out three and also walked three.

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