LSU bats sizzle in win over Eagles

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 9, 2003

BATON ROUGE &045; LSU third baseman Ivan Naccarata joked he spent more time hitting snowballs than baseballs growing up in Longueuil, Quebec.

Maybe that’s why the ball has looked so big this season for the junior college transfer, whose 2-run blast in the bottom of the eighth added insult to injury in LSU’s 11-1 victory over Winthrop Saturday.

The Tigers (10-6) got two hits and a pair of runs-batted-in from Naccarata &045; the team’s leading hitter at .333 &045; and a hat trick of RBIs from shortstop Aaron Hill to put them in position for the sweep in today’s closer at 1 p.m.

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&uot;It’s finally getting fun. Winning always is,&uot; said Hill, who followed a fourth-inning double with his second long ball of the season in the fifth. &uot;The hitting is getting contagious. Sometimes you have to love to fail to enjoy the game. And we’re working hard right now.&uot;

It was the fourth straight win for LSU, who had lost two out of its last three weekend series heading into Friday’s 10-2 win over the Eagles.

LSU starter Bo Pettit (2-0) got his second win of the season in his second appearance and every pitch was worth the price of admission.

He went six innings for the win with nine strikeouts, two walks and retired the last five batters to reduce his earned-run-average to a team-low 1.29. Greg Smith came on in relief of Pettit in the seventh to pitch three perfect innings with four punch-outs.

&uot;I’d like to strikeout every batter I could, but that’s not the type of pitcher I am,&uot; Pettit said. &uot;My curve was working for me today and (Winthrop) was swinging at some pitches out of the zone.&uot;

The floodgates crept open for the Tigers in the fourth with the score squared at 1-apiece. After Naccarata walked to leadoff the inning, Hill followed with his double that brought up chalk down the left-field line and scored the junior-college transfer who hit 16 home runs at Chipola Junior College last year.

Winthrop (9-5) starter Chris Carter (0-1), who got the loss, retired the next two batters, but the second out of Clay Harris scored Hill from third for a 3-1 lead.

LSU went for the jugular the following inning when Ryan Patterson, the ninth man in the order, started things off with a double in the right centerfield gap. Patterson scored on designated hitter Quinn Stewart’s single before he was picked off of first.

Again Naccarata walked &045; this time with two outs &045; and Hill followed with a 2-run dong that slipped over the left-field fence for a 6-1 lead to chase Carter from the game.

&uot;The bats have finally woken up for us and that helps out us pitchers to go out there with a big lead,&uot; Pettit said. &uot;Winthrop is not a bad team. We’re not taking them lightly. They can just as easily come out here tomorrow and steal Sunday from us.&uot;

Pettit got into a jam to open the game when he walked Winthrop’s leadoff hitter and then plunked the second Eagle in the helmet to put runners at first and second with no outs.

The fifth-year senior, who last week finished recovering from the flu that kept him out the first two weeks of the season, settled down to get the next three batters in order to retire the side.

The only trouble Pettit walked into after the first was a third-inning predicament when Matt Matkovich, at the top of the order, lined a single to center field and then stole second.

After fanning first baseman Bennett Stapf for the first out of the inning, Grant Neidenfeuhr tagged a Pettit offering down the left-field line for a double to score Matkovich to tie the game 1-all. Daniel Carte, the Eagles’ cleanup man, laced a shot into the awaiting glove of Naccarata.

The third baseman pivoted and threw a dart to second baseman Blake Gill to double up Carte to end the threat and the inning.

&uot;It’s fun making plays and winning in front of this big home crowd,&uot; said Naccarata of the 4,217 in the stands on an overcast afternoon. &uot;To be honest with you, I’ve never played with this many fans. I catch myself out there in the field looking up and saying, ‘Is this for real?’

&uot;They encourage us no matter what and right now we’re playing good and winning for them.&uot;