Feb. 17, 2012
NEW ORLEANS - The prospects for a win didn't look great for the Tulane baseball team on the opening night of the 2012 college baseball season, but D.J. Ponder worked out of a jam in the sixth inning, retiring the final 11 batters he faced, and Nick Schneeberger delivered the bases loaded single in the ninth inning to give the Green Wave a 5-4 come-from-behind win over Siena on Friday (Feb. 17) on the turf inside Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.
"I thought (Brantley) was really good," said head coach Rick Jones. "We're going to see really good arms this year and that's one of them. He settled in and really did a good job with the fastball on the outer half of the plate and he mixed his breaking ball and we went about four innings there without too many good swings. I think we did a good not panicking...and we put together some good at bats late. D.J. (Ponder) was very special tonight and was really aggressive with all of his pitches."
The Green Wave (1-0) offense came out swinging against Siena (0-1) starting pitcher Justin Brantley to grab an early 2-0 lead. In the first, Brandon Boudreaux opened the game with a double down the right field line and came around to score on an RBI ground out by Jeremy Schaffer. Schneeberger singled with two outs and eventually came around to score on an RBI triple from Andrew Garner, his first collegiate hit.
Brantley settled in for Siena on the mound and allowed just three hits over the next five innings to allow his teammates time to get their offense on track. The Saints did just that in the sixth innings again LeBlanc with three runs - two earned - on three hits. The first four hitters reach base against LeBlanc before he was relieved by Ponder with nobody out in the frame. With a runner on second base, Ponder walked the first batter he faced - a walk that ended a ten-pitch at bat - before Jeremy Schaffer threw behind the runner at second base to pick him off for the first out. The senior right-hander then coaxed a flyball out and struck out a batter to end the threat.
Ponder mowed through the Saints the rest of the way to complete four innings of work and give his associates a chance to chip away at the two-run lead. LeBlanc ended the evening with five innings of work in his first start since March 6, 2011 and allowed four runs - three earned - on seven hits. He fanned four batters and walked one in the outing.
"When you're coming back off Tommy John - and he kept fighting through--he basically had command of about one pitch tonight - his fastball," Jones said. "He got his change going a little bit, but he didn't have command of his breaking ball for most of the night. That was ran his pitch count up. But I know Randy and every outing seems to be a better outing for him. I think he'll be that way."
That comeback began in the seventh inning with a Frank Florio, pinch hit single and a walk to Brennan Middleton. Boudreaux's flyout to deep right field allowed Florio to move to third and a throwing error on the relay moved Middleton to second base. Garrett Cannizaro singled to right field to score the first run of the frame and Schaffer delivered his second RBI of the contest when he followed a base knock of his own.
In the ninth, Middleton started the frame with a single to center field and moved to second on a wild pitch. After a Boudreaux flyout, Middleton stole third base against reliever Neil Fryer. The bases were loaded after walks to Cannizaro and Schaffer, the later an intentional walk, and Schneeberger lined a 1-2 pitch into right field for an RBI walk-off single, his second career walk-off hit.
"The main thing was we didn't panic," sophomore Andrew Garner said. "When you start panicking you can get down on yourself and that's when you lose ballgames. ... We stayed confident in our hitting."
It was the fourth career game winning hit for the senior and his two hits in the game give him 13 career multi-hit games. Jeremy Schaffer plated a pair of RBI's to mark the 40th time in his career that he has driven in multiple RBIs. Boudreaux and Garner boasted two hits apiece as the Green Wave out-hit the Saints, 11-7.
Ponder tossed four innings of work and didn't allow a hit, walking one, to pick up his first win of the season. The senior fanned three and walked one, while sitting down the final 11 batters in order.
"We definitely need to improve in a lot of areas but any time you get a win on opening night, it's good," said senior Nick Schneeberger. "We showed a lot of fight."
The two teams return to the field with a twinbill on Saturday, Feb. 18 starting at 1:00 p.m. on the Turf at Turchin. The first game will pit Tulane's Tyler Mapes versus Siena's Ryan Poplawski on the mound, with the second game starting approximately 40 minutes after the conclusion of game one. The game two pitching matchup is schedule to be Alex Massey for the Green Wave against C.J. Sohl for the Saints.