April 24, 2004
Knoxville, Tenn. - Jon Zeringue went 4-for-4 with a home run and four RBI as the No. 7 LSU Tigers scored seven unanswered runs en route to an 11-5 victory over the No. 10 Tennessee Volunteers at Lindsey Nelson Stadium to even the series at a game apiece. The rubber game is Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.
In a game that mirrored game one of the series in which Tennessee committed six errors while collecting 16 hits in its 8-6 win, LSU made five errors while pounding out 12 hits in Saturday's win.
The loss dropped the Vols (31-10, 10-7 SEC) into a tie for first in the SEC Eastern Division with Florida which defeated Vanderbilt 4-2. LSU improved to 30-11 and 9-8 in conference play.
Freshman Clay Dirks (8-0) kept his record perfect as he overcame a shaky start, in which he surrendered five runs on seven hits through the first three innings, to limit the Vols to three hits over his final five innings of work. Justin Meier pitched a perfect ninth for the Tigers.
With both teams jockeying for the lead through the first three innings, it took a four-run fifth by LSU to finally break the game open. The Tigers opened with two runs in the first on Zeringue's two-run double before the Vols took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the frame on fielders choice and back-to-back RBI singles by Eli Iorg and Brian Cleveland.
Zeringue drove in his third-run in the third while Blake Gill scored on a ground out to give LSU a short lived 4-3 lead because Tennessee rallied with two of its own in the bottom half on the third Tiger error and Cleveland's second RBI for a 5-4 lead.
Ryan Patterson and Gill started the decisive fifth with back-to-back singles chasing Vol starter Sean Watson. Tennessee then turned to its ace in Luke Hochevar who yielded a sacrifice fly that scored Patterson to tie the game. After inducing Clay Harris to ground out, Ivan Naccarata singled moving Gill to third. Matt Liuzza then doubled, plating Gill, before Hochevar uncorked back-to-back wild pitches that let Naccarata and Liuzza to score giving LSU the lead for good at 8-5.
The Tigers showed the power they are known for in the seventh as Zeringue began the three-run inning with his 11th home run, a towering shot to left. Will Harris capped the frame with a his fourth home run, a two-run blast to left, as LSU extended its lead to 11-5.
Watson (4-2) took the loss after giving up six runs on seven hits in four innings, while Hochevar gave up five runs on four hits in three innings. Dusty Johnson and Craig Cobb each pitched a scoreless inning to close out the game.
The game was loaded with fireworks early as Tennessee catcher Nick Crowe was ejected at the end of the first for tossing his batting helmet after being called out on a close play at the first base bag by umpire Scott Erby. Then in the second, LSU shortstop Derek Hebert was tossed by Erby for the same helmet throwing incident which brought out Tiger skipper Smoke Laval who argued the call to no avail and was promptly ejected.