Redshirt junior Randy LeBlanc got the start for Tulane on Saturday against No. 24 Arkansas
March 8, 2014
BERKELEY, Calif. - Tulane baseball tried to carry their momentum from Friday night's big victory over Cal to Saturday's contest against No. 24 Arkansas at Evans Diamond in Berkeley, Calif., but the Razorbacks got outstanding pitching performances from some middle relievers, holding Tulane to just four hits in a 4-0 loss for the Green Wave.
Arkansas (8-3) jumped ahead early, scoring a run in the top of the second in what would end up being enough for the game, as Tulane (9-4) was shutout for the first time during the 2014 campaign. The Green Wave had a few opportunities to pull within striking distance of the Razorbacks in the contest, but things just did not go in favor of the Green Wave on a sunny Saturday afternoon in California.
Tulane starting pitcher Randy LeBlanc had an uncharacteristic performance in his fourth start of the season, allowing three earned runs over 4.1 innings, while striking out just one. Tulane's offense, coming off a game in which they scored eight two-out runs in a 10-5 rout of Cal the previous night, struggled a bit at the dish. While Tulane had some hits that were robbed by stellar defense by the Razorbacks, the Arkansas bats managed to get a few bloop singles to fall in their favor.
"We just did not have a good day offensively," said Tulane baseball head coach Rick Jones. "We only had four hits. We hit into a couple of line drives, and that's going to happen, while (Arkansas) flared some balls in, and that happens. I thought that their pitching really did a good job against us."
Sophomore outfielder Richard Carthon, senior outfielder Andrew Garner, freshman catcher Jake Rogers and junior outfielder John Gandolfo each collected a hit for the Green Wave on Saturday. Garner's went for a ground-rule double down the right field line in the bottom of the sixth.
LeBlanc (2-1) came out of the gate hot, retiring the first three batters he faced in the contest. However, in the second inning, the Abita Springs, La., native allowed a three hits that eventually led to the go-ahead run when Arkansas' Brett McAfee douled to right field to score Brian Anderson - who reached on a fielder's choice.
In the bottom of the fourth, Tulane couldn't capitalize on what was a very bizarre inning. Garner walked on four straight pitches from Arkansas starter Colin Poche for the second time on the day before moving to second base on a balk. Junior second baseman Garrett Deschamp then grounded out in what appeared to be the first out of the frame, moving Garner to third. However, just before Poche's delivery, he balked for a second time, putting Garner just 90 feet away from tying the game. Deschamp then walked before Poche was pulled for reliever Zach Jackson.
With senior designated hitter Nick DiMaggio at the dish, Deschamp got caught in a rundown between first and second after Jackson (1-0) delivered a breaking ball in the dirt, which led Garner to attempt to swipe home to tie the game. Deschamp reached second base, though, as Garner was caught trying to hit paydirt.
"We had a hit-and-run play on with DiMaggio, and we thought we were going to get a fastball, and instead we saw a breaking ball," said Jones. "Clipper is really good at hitting behind the runner, but there was a breaking ball in the dirt, and that happens. We tried to be aggressive on the basepaths. That one was on me."
Arkansas loaded the bases in the top of the fifth, and Joe Serrano singled to left field for two runs before LeBlanc was replaced on the bump by freshman righty J.P. France. The Luling, La., native was able to get out of trouble until the seventh inning when Arkansas scored their fourth and final run on sacrifice fly y Serrano.
Tulane threatened again in the seventh inning when senior first baseman Bowen Woodson reached on an error and moved to second on a single by Rogers. Jackson delivered a pitch that for all intents and purposes should have been a wild pitch, but Razorback catcher Jake Wise was able to block the ball and throw Woodson out at second base after the Vicksburg, Miss., native had a large lead on what could have been a free 90 feet. Gandolfo reached on a fielder's choice, and Carthon walked before freshman pinch-hitter Barry Buchowski - who made his collegiate debut on the day - struck out to end the inning.
Jackson earned his first win of the season, pitching 3.2 innings and striking out two while allowing just three hits. Jacob Stone pitched the final 2.1 innings for the Razorbacks, striking out three and picking up his first save of the year. As a team, Arkansas totaled nine hits.
On Sunday, Tulane will head to Laney College in Oakland for the final contest of the weekend for the Green Wave, when they take on the San Francisco Dons at 1pm CT. The game will be broadcast on 88.3 FM WRBH. Neither team has officially named a starting pitcher for the matchup.
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