March 9, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - Tulane's baseball squad loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth with one out, but only brought home one run before two consecutive strikeouts ended the game, 4-2, in favor of High Point on Saturday afternoon at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.
Tulane (8-8) only collected two hits on the day, but put the winning run on base in the bottom of the ninth when junior Andrew Garner, senior Blake Crohan and freshman Tim Yandel walked consecutively with one out. Senior Tucker Oakley walked on four straight pitches to bring Garner home from third to give the Green Wave two runs on the afternoon. However, High Point (7-8) relief pitcher Malcolm Clapsaddle struck out junior Bowen Woodson and Brennan Middleton for the save, securing High Point's victory.
By committing two errors that turned into three runs on the afternoon, the Green Wave wasted a solid effort from senior pitcher Alex Byo (1-2). The Baton Rouge, La., native pitched his first career complete game, striking out four and walking only one. Of the four runs scored by the Panthers on the day, only one was earned.
"I am very disappointed," said Tulane head coach Rick Jones. "Alex Byo pitched certainly well enough to win the ball game. He didn't have his best stuff early on, but he certainly pitched well enough to win the game. We have to win with pitching and defense on most days, and we were very sloppy on defense today, and that cost us badly."
Despite the lack of hitting and fielding, the Greenies scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the second. Senior Sean Potkay led off the inning with a single to left field. He advanced to second on a groundout by Garner, and then moved to third on a single by Crohan through the left side. Garner scored Tulane's lone run when Yandel grounded out to third base, giving Tulane the lead.
However, the Panthers responded with a two-run top of the third, allowing them to take the lead once and for all. After Byo hit Panther's second baseman Kyle Brandenburg to start the top of the frame, shortstop Willie Medina singled, but both runners advanced an extra base when an error was made by Woodson - who was covering first base on the short hit by Medina. Right fielder Devin Bujnovsky brought Brandenburg home on a sacrifice fly that tied the game at one run a piece. During the very next at-bat, Josh Spano brought Medina home on another sacrifice fly that gave High Point a 2-1 lead.
In the top of the fourth, High Point tacked on another run when Sean Wilson reached on a fielder's choice. With two outs in the inning, Wilson stole second base, and he came around to touch home plate on a single by Adam Barry.
Just one inning later, High Point scored their fourth and final run of the game when Tulane committed a critical error in the inning. Medina led the inning off with a single, and he advanced all the way to third on an errant pickoff attempt from Byo. Bujnovsky brought Medina home on a single up the middle, icing the game for the Panthers. Tulane committed another error in the inning, but no runs resulted from the miscue.
High Point's starting pitcher, Sean Townsley (2-0), pitched 8.0 innings, striking out five and walking three. Instead of sticking with Townsley in the ninth, High Point decided to dip into their bullpen, bringing out Jaime Schultz to face the Green Wave batters. Potkay grounded out for the first out, but Garner walked after working the count full, and he advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch from Schultz. The pitcher was then removed in favor of Joe Goodman, who walked three straight batters before Clapsaddle came on to shut things down. Clapsaddle earned his first save of the season.
"Give High Point credit," said Jones. "They played very well. They out hit us and they played errorless baseball."
Tulane was led at the plate by Crohan and Potkay, who both went 1-for-3. Potkay also walked and scored once, and Crohan walked twice. Potkay has now reached base safely in 10 straight contests.
Middleton finished the game going 0-for-5, ending his 14-game hitting streak. Today marked the first game he did not reach base all season.
Tomorrow, both teams will take to Greer Field at Turchin Stadium at 1pm CST for the rubber match in the series. Tulane will name a starting pitcher prior to the game, as High Point will roll out senior righty Jared Avidon.
After tomorrow's contest, Tulane student-athletes will shave their heads to raise awareness for pediatric cancer, as the baseball team has been raising money for the Vs. Cancer Foundation throughout the first quarter of the season. The Vs. Cancer Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving kids' lives by empowering athletes and communities to fund lifesaving childhood cancer efforts. The money raised by Tulane's athletes will be split in half, with one half going to fund research at the national level and the other half going to a local childhood cancer hospital.
The organization was founded by Chase Jones, nephew of Tulane's skipper, and a pediatric cancer survivor.
Tomorrow's contest can be listened to on Tulane baseball's new flagship station, 106.1 The Ticket. Live stats will be made available throughout the weekend at TulaneGreenWave.com
You can follow the Tulane baseball program on Twitter (@GreenWaveBSB) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GreenWaveBaseball.