Feb. 19, 2010
NEW ORLEANS - Green Wave sophomores Jeremy Schaffer and Matt Ryan had two hits each, and freshman right fielder Cody Robinson hammered a two-run homer, but it was not enough as the Tulane University baseball team dropped its 2010 season opener to Boston College, 8-5, Friday evening in Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.
Tulane had five true freshmen in its starting lineup - centerfielder Brandon Boudreaux, shortstop Garrett Cannizaro, left fielder Blake Crohan, second baseman Brennan Middleton and Robinson in right - and the rookies accounted for four of the Green Wave's 10 hits and four of the five runs. The loss, however, was the first by a Tulane team on opening day since dropping a 5-3, 10-inning decision to TCU on Feb 10, 2006 at the Houston College Classic in Minute Maid Park, and marked the Wave's first season-opening loss at home since falling to Rice 1-0 on Feb. 11, 1990.
"They handled themselves fairly well tonight - from Crohan to Middleton to Cody to Boudreaux," Tulane head baseball coach Rick Jones said. "All of them had some quality at-bats and did some things offensively. Garrett smoked a ball at the shortstop there and had a good walk. They're going to get better as they go. They're talented kids and we knew that, but we would have liked to have gotten a win tonight.
"The thing I was most encouraged by was our freshmen seemed to be pretty collected out there. The first game is out of the way now and the youth card can't be played now. We all know how many freshmen we have. Let's not talk about it anymore. Let's talk about trying to win a ballgame tomorrow."
The Eagles scored three runs on the first inning on back-to-back homers by first baseman Anthony Melchionda and right fielder John Spatola and added five runs over the final three innings to stave off a Green Wave comeback. Tulane plated two runs in the sixth to make it a one-run game and added three more in the ninth, but the early deficit proved to be too much to overcome.
Green Wave starter Conrad Flynn (0-1) was tagged with the loss after giving up four runs on five hits while walking one and striking out nine in six-plus innings of work. Flynn got off to a solid start and was one strike away from opening the game with a scoreless frame.
But with two away, a 1-2 count on Melchionda and BC centerfielder Robbie Anston at third base, Flynn fell behind in the count 3-2 and the Eagles' clean-up hitter hammered a two-run shot to just left of center to put the visiting club on top 2-0. Spatola followed with a first-pitch homer to almost the exact same spot to put BC up by three.
From there, Flynn faced just one more than the minimum over the next five innings before being removed after allowing a leadoff single in the seventh.
"I thought Conrad pitched really well," Jones said. "We were one strike away in the first inning there and couldn't get that third strike. He left two balls up. They're a good club in the middle of the lineup. Obviously, those guys put up big numbers last year and put good swings on them."
Boston College starter Pat Dean (1-0) kept Tulane off the board over the first five innings before Middleton got things going with a leadoff double in the sixth inning. Boudreaux followed with an RBI single to right, Crohan had a single of his own, and after a double-play ball, Schaffer ripped a run-scoring single up the middle to make it a 3-2 ballgame.
The Eagles, however, got a run back in the top of the seventh as Spatola singled, advanced the bases on a sacrifice bunt and a stolen base, and scored on a balk by Tulane reliever Drew Zizinia. An inning later, an errant throw on an attempt to cut down the lead runner with nobody out proved costly as Melchionda ripped a two-run single up the middle to stretch the lead to four at 6-2.
Boston College shortstop Brad Zapenas opened the ninth with a leadoff triple to right central and scored on a single by Mickey Wiswall. Matt Hamlet accounted for the Eagles' final tally with some heads-up base running as he scored for third on a foul-ball fly out behind the plate. On the play, Wiswall broke late toward second to draw a throw and the relay back to the plate was not in time.
The Green Wave did not go away quietly, though, as Cannizaro opened the home half of the ninth with a walk and Robinson blasted a two-run laser over the left field fence to slice the deficit to four. Ryan followed with a single and eventually came around to score on a balk, but that was as close as Tulane would get as BC closer Kevin Moran did not allow a hit and struck out one in his lone inning of work.
"I thought we saw some positive things tonight but we had some youthful mistakes also," Jones said. "We didn't hold their running game down like we wanted to. We had a couple of situations where we let them extend the inning. I thought we battled hard at the plate against some really good pitching. We saw an outstanding lefty and we saw their closer at the end.
"We go down early and we battled back, but in the end a couple of things happened due to youth or whatever and it got us. But they are correctable things. When you're playing as talented a team as Boston College those things will get you. I was encouraged by our offense tonight. We're not going to play the youth card as an excuse. We've got to get ready to go tomorrow."
The Green Wave return to action on Saturday when they continue the series against Boston College and close out the weekend against the Eagles on Sunday. Both games are slated to begin at 1 p.m.