Feb. 21, 2014
RUSTON, La. - Tulane baseball's offense had one of their better nights in recent memory, thanks in large part to back-to-back home runs off the bats of Andrew Garner and Garrett Deschamp, and sophomore pitcher Emerson Gibbs pitched masterfully in relief as Tulane rallied from behind for a 12-8 victory in their last Conference USA opener against Louisiana Tech at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park in Ruston, La., on Friday night.
Tulane (5-0) took an early lead after the first inning when they put up two runs on the board, but fell behind as LA Tech (1-3) swung the bats well in the early part of the game. However, the Green Wave scored six times in the top of the fifth to put them ahead once and for all against their new C-USA foe.
With Tulane down 6-4 heading into the fifth inning, the Green Wave bats were able to get to former Freshman All-American Phil Maton when freshman catcher Jake Rogers reached on an error and sophomore left fielder Richard Carthon walked on four-straight pitches. Both runners moved over on a balk by Maton (0-1) before freshman shortstop Stephen Alemais reached on an error that scored both Rogers and Carthon. It was then that Garner blasted his first home run of the season over the left-center wall to score both he and Alemais, followed by the first home run by Deschamp in a Tulane uniform during the next at-bat. The third error of the frame allowed freshman center fielder Lex Kaplan to reach base, and after senior first baseman Bowen Woodson singled to move Kaplan to third, he came home on an RBI-double from freshman third baseman Hunter Hope.
"We had some really good two-strike at-bats, and we stretched the lead," said Tulane baseball head coach Rick Jones. "It's just one game, but it's good to see us battle back. In this ballpark, I don't think a lead is safe."
In addition to the offense in the fifth inning, Gibbs (1-0) came on in the bottom of the frame, and he pitched his best game as a member of the Tulane pitching staff. Gibbs went 5.0 innings in relief while striking out four for the first victory of his career, just one week after earning his first career save.
"Emerson came in and gave us one of the greatest performances," added Jones. "It's not easy to pitch in this ballpark. The ball jumps out of here. Emerson kept the ball down and mixed his pitches and then started playing really well defensively."
The win allowed the Green Wave to move to 5-0 to start a season for the first time since the 2008 campaign, the last year Tulane made an NCAA Regional.
Tulane starter J.P. France looked to follow last week's magical performance with another, but the first inning for the freshman from Marrero, La., was tough, as his defense committed two errors behind him while four runs crossed the plate after Tulane went up to begin the contest. France then allowed another two runs in the bottom of the second before settling down and pitching through the next two frames relatively unscathed.
France struck out three while allowing five earned runs and issuing no walks in 4.0 innings of work on the night.
The Green Wave battled back to cut LA Tech's in the top of the third. Rogers and Carthon reached base on back-to-back singles before Garner brought both of them home on a single down the right field line.
Fortunately for the Green Wave, they added insurance runs in the eighth and ninth inning after exploding for the aforementioned six runs in the top of the fifth. Garner added a sacrifice fly to his resume, scoring Carthon in the eighth before Woodson hit an RBI-single in the ninth that scored Deschamp.
In the ninth inning, Gibbs hit his first bump in the road on the evening as he gave up three hits, including a two-run home run to LA Tech's Tyler Ervine. However, Gibbs was able to strikeout the final batter of the game for the victory.
Tulane's first four hitters in Carthon, Alemais, Garner and Deschamp all collected two hits apiece, as well as Woodson. Garner totaled five RBI, while Deschamp (three) and Woodson (two) had multi-RBI games of their own.
Carthon scored four times on the evening, making him the first Tulane player to score four runs in one contest since Brandon Boudreaux did so at UAB on April 15, 2012.
The Green Wave will return to J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park for game two in the series against Louisiana Tech on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled to be at 3pm CT, and Tulane will rely on redshirt junior Randy LeBlanc to make the start. He will be pitted against senior southpaw Luke Giddens of LA Tech.
The game will be broadcast only on the All-Access pass at TulaneGreenWave.com due to the Green Wave women's basketball game at 2pm CT.
Fans can follow the Tulane baseball program on Twitter (@GreenWaveBSB) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GreenWaveBaseball.