March 11, 2011
NEW ORLEANS - A four-run lead almost vanished in the ninth inning, but Nick Pepitone made the pitches when he had to and the #24-ranked Tulane baseball team held on to grab a 6-5 victory in the series opener against Wichita State on Friday evening under the lights inside Greer Field at Turchin Stadium. Nick Boullosa and Matt Ryan each drove in two runs in the contest and Conrad Flynn struck out nine batters in seven innings of work in grab the win on the mound.
"Conrad really did pitch well (tonight)," said Tulane head coach Rick Jones. "He got us through seven innings and had good command for most of the night. You can't expect to win the same way every day and the key tonight was that we were good defensively and we stretched the lead. (Pepitone) battled in the eighth, winning the eleven pitch at bat, and then made a huge pitch to end the ballgame. Nick didn't have his best stuff, but he was a competitor on the mound tonight. We stretched the lead in the eighth and ran the bases well. We were very aggressive on the base paths."
Tulane (10-3) opened the scoring in the first inning with three hits off of Wichita State starting pitcher Charlie Lowell. Garrett Cannizaro got things started with a one-out single, extending his hitting streak to six games, and moved to second on a ground out. Jeremy Schaffer slapped a single through the left side of the infield and Cannizaro slid around the tag of WSU catcher Chris O'Brien to score the first run of the game. Schaffer moved to second on the throw and Matt Ryan followed with a double down the right field line to plate Schaffer and give the home team a 2-0 lead.
Flynn motored through the first six innings, facing just two batters over the minimum heading into the seventh. Flynn allowed a two-out double to O'Brien and Ryan Hege plated the first Shocker run with a single to make it a 3-1 ballgame.
The game tightened in the eighth inning when Kevin Hall hit his second home run of the season down the left field line against Tulane reliever Alex Facundus with two outs in the inning. Facundus then handed the ball to senior closer Nick Pepitone with just four outs to go in the game. After a single and a walk loaded the bases, Pepitone battled through a ten-pitch at-bat and eventually coaxed a lineout to the left fielder Crohan to end the threat.
Solid at-bats highlighted the bottom of the eighth for Tulane, as Ryan worked a one-out walk and Bowen Woodson, who came on in the eighth as a defensive replacement, collected his first career hit in the Olive and Blue to put runners on the corners. Nick Schneeberger's eight-pitch at-bat ended with a single through the left side of the infield to score the first run and Nick Boullosa hit a line drive that stayed in the infield - hitting the WSU first baseman in the arm - and the speedy senior slid in safely before the ball could get to the bag and pushed across the fifth and sixth runs of the game.
With the score at 6-2 in favor of Tulane, the Shockers made it interesting in the ninth. After recording the first out of the inning, the next five batters reached against Pepitone. A bases loaded fielders choice scored the first run of the frame and a single off the glove of third baseman Quinn Pippin squirted down the left field line and allowed two more runners to cross the plate. After a stolen base put the game tying run on second base, Pepitone coaxed a 3-1 ground out from Preston Springer to collect his seventh save of the year.
Flynn picked up his first victory since April 2 of last season, throwing seven innings of one run baseball. The senior tied his career high with nine strikeouts (Boston College, 2010) and didn't issue a walk in the contest. Only two base runners reached second base versus the right-hander and Flynn picked off Tulane's first base runner of the season in the fourth inning.
At the plate, seven different players accounted the seven Tulane hits, while Ryan and Boullosa each drove in two RBI's. The Green Wave walked six times in the contest, with Ryan and Schaffer each picking up two walks in the win.
The Green Wave will look to continue their three-game winning streak on Saturday, March 12 when they host the Shockers in the second game of a three-game slate. Tulane and Wichita State will take to the field for a 2:00 p.m. first pitch. For ticket information, contact the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office at (504) 861-WAVE or log onto www.tulanegreenwave.com.