Tulane Baseball Takes Series Finale from Raiders in Extras

TULANEGREENWAVE.COM Preston Claiborne threw 5.0 scoreless innings in relief to earn the 4-3 victory over Wright State for the Green Wave.
Preston Claiborne threw 5.0 scoreless innings in relief to earn the 4-3 victory over Wright State for the Green Wave.

March 1, 2009

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New Orleans- The Tulane baseball team capped off their weekend of baseball with a 4-3 win in ten innings Sunday afternoon at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium. The Green Wave (6-3) completed the series in exciting fashion when junior Josh Prince led off the extra frame and quickly got a pass to first after being dotted by reliever Michael Schum, and moved into scoring position on a pass ball. The Raiders had started the bottom of the 10th inning with a defensive shift, bringing in center fielder Kyle Mossbarger into the infield but Nick Boullosa did his job, advancing Prince to third on a ground ball to the right side. Three-hitter Seth Henry stepped into the box and worked his count even to 1-1 before taking the third pitch of the at bat back up the middle, plating Prince and securing the win for Tulane.

"I wasn't really thinking about the shift or anything," Henry said. "Josh did a great job of wearing a pitch and Boullosa did a good job of moving him over. I love being in that situation. I had a good pitch to hit and drove him in."

Tulane took three of four games from the Raiders but head coach Rick Jones felt Sunday's game was "the most complete game" that the team had played all season. "We had to pitch, play defense and have timely at bats," Jones said. "And we fought, had good energy and we had a mature approach on the bench and that is encouraging."

Junior Preston Claiborne entered the contest in relief of starter Jonathan Garrett in the sixth inning and earned the win for Tulane. Claiborne, who posted his longest outing in a Green Wave uniform, threw 5.0 innings and struck out a career-best eight batters.

"We were debating on whether to go past three innings with him," Jones said. "He was so strong in the eighth, we decided he'd go back in the ninth and he had a quick ninth and then went back in the tenth. He would not have gone back in the eleventh, but that's because his pitch count would have been stretched too much for him this early in the season and you want him to be ready to go another day. That was really a dominant performance by him; one we certainly needed."

Wright State jumped ahead, putting the first run on the board in their half of the fourth when Mossbarger tripled to lead off the inning. Quentin Cate singled Mossbarger in, picking up the RBI. The Raiders added two more runs in the top of the fifth but the Green Wave bats came out hot in the bottom of the fifth when freshman Jeremy Schaffer (1-3, RBI) led off with a single to center field. Steve Moritz (2-3) walked and freshman Evan Mistich laid down a bunt to move the runners over. Mistich was safe on the play on an error and Schaffer came into score, while Moritz advanced to third. Designated hitter Jamie Bruno notched his third RBI of the season when he grounded out, scoring Mortiz in the process, closing the Raider lead to only one, 3-2.

The Green Wave tied the ball game in their half of the sixth when senior Scott Powell led off with a bunt single and stole second. Sam Honeck got the base on balls on a ball four wild pitch, advancing Powell to third. Powell scored on Schaffer's sac fly to knot the game at three apiece.

"A sacrifice bunt can sometimes be the thing that builds a rally if another club doesn't handle it well," Jones said. "Schaffer singles [in the fifth], Mortiz walks and Mistich gets the bunt down and they didn't handle the bunt, and sometimes that happens, and Mistich was hustling down. That really got us going and that got us one [run] and then Bruno's ball gets us another. Then Schaffer had another big at bat and we were hit and running to stay out of the double play and if he hit that hard fly ball and that was a really well-executed swing on his part."

Three scoreless innings later, the Green Wave found themselves in their second extra-inning contest of the season and earned the victory on Henry's big, late-inning hit.

"I was proud of the efforts our kids gave because we came from behind," Jones said. "We had to scratch and claw, we played well defensively, we got a big hit there but we had to put some pressure on them defensively and we did."

The Green Wave will take the field again for back-to-back midweek games when Tulane plays host to Northwestern State beginning Tuesday evening at 6PM.