March 3, 2013
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Tulane's baseball squad held the lead on two separate occasions against Alabama, but also lost the lead twice, ultimately losing to the Crimson Tide, 12-6, in Tuscaloosa, Ala., at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
Tulane (6-6) was attempting to sweep the Crimson Tide (8-3) for Tulane's first three-game weekend sweep of a non-conference opponent on the road since 1983.
"Today was the exact opposite of how we won the first two games," said Tulane baseball head coach Rick Jones. "The first two games, we pitched really, really well, played well defensively and we had some timely hits. Today, our pitching was just subpar and we made two errors."
Tulane used five pitchers on the mound today, with starter Kyle McKenzie going 3.1 innings, allowing two earned runs and walking four. In total, the Green Wave pitchers walked 11 batters.
The Greenies took the lead in the top of the first when senior Brennan Middleton, freshman Tim Yandel and senior Brandon Boudreaux hit back-to-back-to-back singles to open the contest against Crimson Tide starter Spencer Turnbull. However, only one of those runners - Middleton - came home to score when junior Andrew Garner brought him in on a fielder's choice. Turnbull struck out seniors Sean Potkay and Garrett Cannizaro to get out of the inning after giving up just one run.
"I thought we had an opportunity to do something big in the first inning when we had the bases loaded with only one out," added Jones. "We let them off the hook."
The Crimson Tide took the lead in the bottom of the fourth after chasing starter McKenzie off the mound. McKenzie allowed a single to right fielder Ben Moore to start things off, and he advanced to second on a wild pitch. McKenzie then walked catcher Brett Booth, and Moore reached third on a passed ball.
With runners at the corners, third baseman Kenny Roberts reached on a fielder's choice, but tied the game up when Moore scored on a throwing error that advanced Booth to third. Austen Smith - who led the Crimson Tide with a 2-for-4 afternoon at the plate - singled up the middle to bring home Booth and advancing Roberts to third. Kyle Overstreet then brought Roberts home on a sacrifice fly before McKenzie allowed a single to Andrew Miller - his first hit of the season - and walking Ryan Blanchard.
After Wilson took over, he struck out leadoff man Georgie Salem before walking freshman Mikey White with the bases loaded that brought Smith home for the fourth and final run of the inning.
The Green Wave countered Alabama's offensive barrage with one of their own, putting up four in the top half of the very next frame. Middleton walked with one out, and Yandel doubled to left field, putting both runners in scoring position. Boudreaux grounded out to shortstop for the second out of the inning, but not before Middleton came home from third for the second run of the game for the Greenies. Potkay followed that up with a walk - his tenth of the season. With two outs, Garner stepped to the plate and blooped a single into right field that looked to be caught by a sliding Moore, but was in fact dropped, scoring Yandel. With runners at the corners, Cannizaro laced a double down the left field line that scored Potkay and Garner, allowing Tulane to retake the lead, 5-4.
"We fought back when we were down three to take the lead, and that was impressive," added Jones.
Tulane's lead did not last long, however, as the Crimson Tide put six on the Greenies in the bottom of the sixth to take the lead once and for all. With two outs on the board, Wilson walked Salem before White doubled to left field. Tulane replaced Wilson the mound with freshman Emerson Gibbs. On just the second pitch dealt by Gibbs on the afternoon, Moore hit a ground-rule double that brought both Salem and White home. Gibbs subsequently walked Booth and Roberts before he allowed a two-RBI single to Smith.
Gibbs was pulled in favor of redshirt sophomore Randy LeBlanc - making his season debut. Overstreet singled into the outfield, but the ball got past the Tulane defender, allowing two more runs to come in, before LeBlanc struck out Miller to end the inning.
Tulane added one more run, in the eighth, when junior second baseman Bowen Woodson hit his first home run of the season to the opposite field. However, Alabama countered that with two of their own in the bottom half of that inning when senior Tucker Oakley came on in relief of LeBlanc, hitting three straight batters before balking in a run. Redshirt junior Greg Miller replaced Oakley on the mound, allowing a sacrifice fly to Andrew Miller before getting out of the inning. Both Oakley and Miller made their season debuts on the mound today.
Ray Castillo earned the win today for the Crimson Tide - his second of the season. He came on in relief of starter Turnbull in the fifth inning, and he pitched 4.1 innings, allowing one hit, one earned run and six strikeouts.
Wilson was credited with the loss for the Greenies, going 2.1 innings, allowing two earned runs, two hits, three walks and striking out three. He is now 1-1 on the year.
The Greenies handled the Crimson Tide mightily during the first two contests of the series, winning 4-0 on Friday night and 6-2 on Saturday afternoon.
Tulane hasn't swept an opponent in a three-game weekend series on the road since they did so in March of 1983 against UNLV.
The Greenies will return home for a five-game home stand, facing in-state foe Northwestern State on Tuesday and Wednesday at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium. Tuesday's contest will begin at 6:30pm CST, while Wednesday's game will get underway at 2pm CST. Senior lefty David Napoli will get his first start of the season on Tuesday for the Green Wave. Both games will be broadcast live on the flagship station for Tulane athletics, 106.1 The Ticket.
Tulane will host High Point for a three-game series over the weekend.
You can follow the Tulane baseball program on Twitter (@GreenWaveBSB) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GreenWaveBaseball.