Bumstead, LSU bats too much for State in Sunday loss
Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 1, 2004
BATON ROUGE &045; Churchill would’ve empathized.
Mississippi State head baseball coach Ron Polk leaned back on the last row of bleachers underneath the grandstand at Alex Box Stadium, legs propped forward, chomping on a cigar so lengthy his players could’ve used it Sunday.
The moment certainly didn’t call for a victory torch. Not after Polk’s Bulldogs (14-8, 2-4) got drubbed 14-3, losing the rubber game of their Southeastern Conference series with LSU.
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The SEC’s top team earned run average suffered a pitfall, as the No. 1 Tigers (21-4, 4-2) rocked starter Alan Johnson (0-1) for eight runs on nine hits in only 4 1/3 innings of work.
LSU senior third sacker Ivan Naccarata blasted two three-run homers, one off the righty Johnson to highlight a seven-run second and another against Bulldog reliever Brooks Dunn in the seventh, to break out of a recent slump that dipped his batting average to .236. He finished with a career-high seven RBIs.
&uot;You take it as it comes but continue to work hard,&uot; said Naccarata, a Canadian who transferred from Chipola Junior College before last year. &uot;Even in a slump you try to work on certain things, like seeing the ball better. It definitely clicked this week.&uot;
Blake Gill’s 4-for-5 afternoon helped lead a 16-hit Tiger barrage, creating a comfortable situation for LSU starter Nate Bumstead (4-0), who tossed 7 1/3 innings before giving way to Lane Mestepey.
Bumstead didn’t exactly leave Bulldog hitters dumbfounded. State battered the hard-throwing righty from Las Vegas for 10 hits, tattooing many pitches on the fat part of the bat; however, the Bulldogs had a handful of long outs to show for it.
&uot;We can’t try to sit back and home run these guys,&uot; Polk said. &uot;I’d like to have the two starters (Jon Mungle and Thomas Berkery) back that we lost. We hit the ball pretty good today, but Bumstead spaced the hits out.&uot;
Brad Corley led off the second with a deep fly to straightaway center that LSU’s J.C. Holt hauled in on the warning track.
Bumstead responded with two quick strikes against Brad Jones, but his third offering sailed the opposite way over the left field fence for the game’s first run and the redshirt sophomore’s first career homer.
Bumstead settled in, though, retiring the next six batters he faced.
&uot;They hit the ball hard today, and I was fortunate to get them hit right at guys,&uot; Bumstead said. &uot;It could’ve been a different outcome if we hadn’t played good defense.&uot;
Holt reached on a bunt single to open the floodgates in the second, in which the Tigers sent 10 men to the dish.
After Ryan Patterson singled to move Holt up, Gill collected his only RBI and the first of three singles, as he golfed an off-speed pitch into right field to tie the game at 1-1.
A Matt Liuzza walk loaded the bases for Nick Stavinoha, whose sacrifice fly scored Patterson.
With the score 4-1 after Jon Zeringue’s flaired single and Clay Harris’ fielder’s choice each plated runs, Naccarata let one ball go by before pushing Johnson’s second pitch just beyond the left field wall.
&uot;(Naccarata’s) put a lot of extra work on his own,&uot; Tigers head coach Smoke Laval said. &uot;He came down to a lighter, shorter bat. He finally got the fat part going.&uot;
The two teams traded runs in the fifth, and then State tried to piece together a seventh inning rally. Brian LaNinfa and Tyler Scarbrough each singled to lead off before Jeff Butts lined out to Patterson in left for the first out.
Jeffrey Rea reached on a bunt to load the bases, and then Bumstead uncorked a wild pitch on his first delivery to Steve Gendron, which scored LaNinfa to make it 8-3.
Like he had done to quiet an earlier rally, Bumstead bore down and struck Gendron out, and induced Craig Tatum into a ground out to retire the side.
&uot;I don’t think (Bumstead) did anything super, but he didn’t do anything to hurt himself. But that’s him,&uot; Laval said. &uot;He did a nice job of letting them hit the ball. And when he had to make the crucial pitch, he did.&uot;