Feb. 27, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - Coming off an uncharacteristic four-game slide, the Tulane baseball squad got back to their winning ways in a 5-3 defeat of New Orleans today at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.
Tulane (4-5) used five pitchers in the contest in order to preserve arms for the upcoming weekend series against Alabama.
"For us today it was just trying to win a ball game," said Tulane baseball head coach Rick Jones. "When we get out of here tomorrow (for the away series at Alabama), it'll feel a little bit better than it would have (had Tulane lost). We are so far away from where we need to be, but it does feel a little better than it would have if we hadn't (won)."
Freshman Daniel Rankin got the start on the afternoon - his first start as a collegiate pitcher. Although it was predetermined that the Katy, Texas, native wouldn't pitch very long, he was pulled earlier than expected after giving up three runs in the top of the second. UNO (0-9) right fielder Morgan Barger launched a two run home run in the top of that inning after Rankin walked the leadoff man, Jonathan Coco. He allowed a single to Zach Liberto before he was pulled in favor of junior Brady Wilson.
"Daniel's got really good stuff and he's very competitive," said Jones. "This is just his second outing. He's going to be used extensively, and we'll count on him."
Wilson pitched more effectively, despite UNO adding another run on the board on a sacrifice fly by Zach Pohto that scored Liberto from third. After the top of the second inning, UNO had a 3-0 lead on the Green Wave.
Things turned around in the bottom of that inning when junior Andrew Garner led off with a double. He moved to third on a fly out to center field, and he subsequently scored on a balk by UNO lefty starter Stone Speer. Making his third start on the season, Speer then walked senior Tucker Oakley - starting at designated hitter on the afternoon. Junior Bowen Woodson hit a shot to right center field, and both Privateer outfielders made a stab at the ball, with neither coming up with it. Freshman Cameron Burns walked, and senior Brennan Middleton - who is batting .500 in his last five games - laced a two-RBI single that scored Oakley and Woodson to tie the contest. Both Middleton and Burns advanced on a passed ball, and Burns came home on a sacrifice fly by freshman Tim Yandel to take the lead, 4-3.
Wilson (1-0) pitched through the third and the fourth innings without any trouble, but was replaced by freshman Emerson Gibbs in the top of the fifth. On the day, Wilson allowed four hits and struck out one.
Gibbs, making his second appearance on the season, put together a solid performance, retiring the side in the fifth, and disposing of the first two batters of the sixth before allowing a single to Barger - who went 2-for-4 on the afternoon. However, Liberto grounded out to end the sixth, and Gibbs continued to deal, retiring the side in the seventh.
The bottom of the seventh inning proved fruitful for Tulane at the plate. Yandel notched his second walk on the day before moving to second base on a passed ball by UNO's Brian Dixon. Senior Sean Potkay was struck by a pitch, and both runners advanced on a wild pitch dealt from UNO's Garrett Manning. Tulane added an insurance run when Garner brought Yandel home on a sacrifice fly, upping their lead by two runs.
Gibbs faced a little adversity in the eighth inning when he allowed back-to-back singles from Dixon and Reese Kanter. Both Privateers advanced to scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Coco. Gibbs was replaced by junior Kyle McKenzie - who started last Sunday's game against Notre Dame - and he ended the threat by striking out Andre Damiens and Barger.
Garner stepped to the mound in the top of the ninth and got Liberto to ground out for the first out in the inning. After Chaz Boyer reached base on an error, Garner induced a double play from Pohto to end the game.
"Emerson Gibbs gave us such a great lift today," added Jones. "That was huge for him to come in and do what he did. And Kyle Mackenzie getting those two outs in the eighth was really big for us. And I thought Andrew Garner did really good job in the ninth."
Senior Brandon Boudreaux returned to the lineup after missing the last two games with a strained muscle.
The Green Wave was swept by Notre Dame at home over the weekend, and lost to Nicholls State in Thibodaux, La., last night.
"We needed that so bad, just to feel like you can win a ballgame," added Jones.
Tulane will face UNO three other times this season with all three contests being played at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium. The winner of the series will take home the First NBC Cup, awarded annually to the winner of the cross-town rivalry. Tulane currently holds the cup after winning the last series the two teams squared off in back in 2011.
The Green Wave will travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala., this weekend for a three-game series against the University of Alabama. The two teams squared off last season at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium, with Tulane taking two of the three games. The Crimson Tide is 7-1 on the season, with their only loss coming to Florida Atlantic during the third game of that series.
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