March 1, 2014
NEW ORLEANS - Tulane baseball had a chance to tie things up in the bottom of the ninth, but it was not to be, as the Green Wave dropped their first home contest of the 2014 season to Sacred Heart, 3-2, at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Tulane (7-2) played from behind the entire contest, but things got interesting in the bottom of the ninth, as Tulane senior designated hitter Andrew Garner led off the frame with a single to left field off Sacred Heart's (1-0) Nick Morrissey for his second hit of the tilt. Garner, representing the tying run, moved to second on a passed ball. Junior second baseman Garrett Deschamp joined Garner on the basepaths as he was plunked by Morrissey before freshman third baseman Hunter Hope hit into a fielder's choice to get Garner out at third.
After senior first baseman Bowen Woodson flied out foul to Sacred Heart's catcher, freshman Hunter Williams - who was pinch hitting for fellow freshman Lex Kaplan - took one off the elbow to load the bases. With two outs, and the tying run just 90 feet from paydirt, freshman shortstop Stephen Alemais lifted a ball into deep center field that, unfortunately, was tracked down by Keaton Flint to give Sacred Heart a win in their season opener.
"Offensively, we had just five hits," stated Tulane head baseball coach Rick Jones. "When you have a young club, and you hear how good we were offensively a weekend ago, we had four, six and five hits in our last three ballgames. Give credit to their (starting) pitcher. He had great numbers last year. We just hit too many fly ball outs."
The Green Wave got into a hole early in the contest, as freshman righty J.P. France struggled to get out of the first frame. Coming into the contest, France had not walked a batter all season, but on Saturday, he put the first two batters on base with walks before allowing a single to Zach Short. With the bases loaded for Sacred Heart, cleanup hitter Dan Perez walked, which scored leadoff hitter Ted Shaw from third base. Fortunately, things did not get worse for the rookie from Archbishop Shaw, as he was able to notch a strikeout and an inning-ending double play to get out of trouble.
Sacred Heart jumped onto the board again in the top of the third after Jason Sullivan signed and scored on a triple by Short. Tulane cut the Pioneers' lead in half when Kaplan walked and moved up two bases on a groundout and an error before sophomore leadoff hitter Richard Carthon brought Kaplan home on a groundout.
Tulane matched Sacred Heart's run production in the fourth, as both teams put up one run a piece. Flint led off the inning with a triple and came home to score on an RBI-single by Kenny Byram. In the bottom half of the frame, Garner doubled down the left field line and moved to third on a single by Hope. Garner came home on a fielder's choice off the bat of Woodson.
After that, however, there was no offense for either team. France (1-1) struck out six over 4.0 innings, but also allowed three earned runs and walked three before being pulled in favor of sophomore righty Emerson Gibbs, who pitched the rest of the contest.
Gibbs was solid throughout the remainder of the game in his third appearance on the year. In 5.0 innings of work, he allowed five hits, but no runs scored and he fanned two batters.
"I thought Emerson Gibbs gave us a great effort, and you may see him more in a starting role now," mentioned Jones.
Tulane did have an opportunity to tie things up in the bottom of the sixth, as Deschamp notched his first career Division I triple with two outs. However, he was left stranded at third as Hope struck out to end the inning.
Sacred Heart's starter, Kody Kerski, pitched 6.0 innings and matched France's strikeout total, while allowing just one earned run. Kerski (1-0) was credited with the win. Morrissey earned the save for his 3.0 innings of work out of the bullpen for the Pioneers.
"We didn't put enough pressure on (Kerski) in the middle of the game," added Jones.
Garner finished the game going 2-for-4 with a run, giving him his fifth multiple-hit game of the season. Hope added a hit to his resume, extending his current hitting streak to seven games. Carthon and Deschamp were the other two Green Wave hitters to post hits on Saturday.
The two squads will return to Greer Field at Turchin Stadium for another matchup at 1pm CT on Sunday for Game Two of the series. The game will be broadcast on 88.3 FM WRBH, and live stats will be made available on TulaneGreenWave.com through GameTracker.
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