Feb. 14, 2014
NEW ORLEANS - Tulane baseball opened their season on Friday afternoon at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium, and a slew of new faces, including starting pitcher J.P. France and starting shortstop Stephen Alemais, carried the Green Wave past Arkansas-Pine Bluff by a score of 7-0.
For the first time in 23 years, Tulane (1-0) sent a true freshman to the mound on opening day, and things couldn't have gone better for the Green Wave or the pitcher. France pitched masterfully in his first collegiate performance, going 7.0 innings while striking out nine and walking none. France (1-0) became the first pitcher to start on opening day for the Green Wave since Ivan Zweig did so on Feb. 17, 1991.
"He did a good job of what we have seen from him in his last three outings in preseason," said Tulane head baseball coach Rick Jones. "He had command of all three pitches and kept the ball down in the zone. We took care of the baseball behind him but he did a really good job."
The Green Wave offense came out hot, as well. The first four hitters in Tulane's lineup - sophomore Richard Carthon, freshman Stephen Alemais, senior Andrew Garner and junior Garrett Deschamp - all collected two hits apiece on the afternoon while five-hole hitter Nick DiMaggio notched a double of his own.
Deschamp, DiMaggio and freshman Lex Kaplan all posted two RBI each.
Tulane got to UAPB's (0-1) starting pitcher Kyle Schwartz early in the contest, as they put two runs on the board in the bottom of the first. Schwartz (0-1) plunked Carthon to start the game, and Alemais moved him to third on a double in his first collegiate at-bat. Deschamp and DiMaggio - who got the start at designated hitter on Friday - scored both Carthon and Alemais on back-to-back fielder's choices.
The Green Wave weren't done, as freshman catcher Jake Rogers scored after walking in the second inning, and Alemais and Garner were brought home by Deschamp and Kaplan, respectively, in the third. Kaplan brought Garner home on a sacrifice fly.
In the fifth, Garner doubled and Deschamp singled before both hitting paydirt on a double by DiMaggio. Carthon flashed his speed and power in the sixth with a triple off the right-center wall.
The big story, though, was France's performance, as he only posted two three-ball at-bats on the afternoon. The Archibishop Shaw graduate struck-out five batters from the last out of the second inning through the first out of the top of the fourth in front of family, friends and his high school coach and former teammates. Only one UAPB base runner made it as far as second base, which was a double given up by France to the Golden Lions' Kirby Campbell.
"There is no way he gets the ball today if he didn't earn it," said Jones of France. "We have some guys who are getting healthy and we have some depth there. Again, there is no way he gets it unless he had earned it and he really had been just like today in his last three outings. Obviously, you're going to be a little bit apprehensive when you know it's a freshman on opening day, not only that a local freshman. He showed you the kind of guy he is today."
After France left the mound at the conclusion of the seventh inning, he was replaced by another local freshman pitcher in Tyler Zamjahn. The righty from Brother Martin allowed two hits, but struck out one in the eighth before being pulled for sophomore transfer Troy Ward for the ninth inning.
All in all, eight new faces graced the field for the Green Wave today. Alemais, Deschamp, Kaplan, Rogers, France, Zamjahn, Ward and third baseman Hunter Hope all donned the Green Wave uniform for the first time on Friday.
The shutout was the first for the Green Wave since holding Northwestern State scoreless in a 3-0 victory on March 5 last season.
With the victory, Jones is now 16-5 on opening day during his tenure at Tulane.
On Saturday, the Green Wave will return to the field at 10:30am CT for game one of a doubleheader against UAPB. Game two will start approximately 40 minutes after the conclusion of game one.
Game one will be a full nine-inning contest, while game two will be a seven-inning tilt.
Season ticket and single game tickets for the 2014 Tulane baseball season are now on sale. Interested parties can call 504-861-WAVE (9283) for more information on tickets, or they may visit the James W. Wilson, Jr. Center's first floor ticket office.
Fans can follow the Tulane baseball program on Twitter (@GreenWaveBSB) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GreenWaveBaseball.