March 15, 2014
GREENVILLE, N.C. - After picking up a big Friday night victory against East Carolina in Greenville, N.C., Tulane's baseball team turned around and dropped both ends of a doubleheader to the Pirates, as they lost 5-2 despite strong pitching from redshirt junior Randy LeBlanc in game one, and 13-3 in eight innings during the second game at Clark-LeClair Stadium on Saturday.
Tulane (10-8, 3-3) fell 5-2 in game one, collecting only four hits in what was a quick game against ECU (10-10, 3-3) before the offense picked up in the final third of the game. While things started much differently in game two, the end results was the same, as Tulane dropped the second contest 13-3 in just eight innings, as the C-USA run rule went into effect after the Pirates blasted five home runs to right field thanks in part to a stiff wind. East Carolina pitcher Ryan Williams, who came on in relief in both contests, picked up both wins on the day, moving his record to 6-1.
"This is just as disappointing of a day that it could be," said Tulane baseball head coach Rick Jones. "Let's face it, we're 3-7 in the last ten games since Sacred Heart. I'm not giving into this, though. This is disappointing considering the name on the front of the jerseys, but we are going to come out and work tomorrow and get better."
The Green Wave managed to tally 13 hits in the second game, but all but one were just singles, and Williams was able to keep the Green Wave from stringing too many hits together.
Freshman second baseman Jake Willsey went 3-for-3 at the dish in game, while senior designated hitter Andrew Garner, junior first baseman Garrett Deschamp and freshman Hunter Hope all posted two hits each.
Game two's start was polar opposite from the beginning of game one, as Tulane tallied four hits in the top of the first - equaling the total for the team in game one. Garner picked up a hit in the top of the first, and moved to second on an errant pickoff attempt by ECU's Brett Mabry. Garner came home on a single to right by Deschamp, who moved to second on the throw to the plate. That was crucial, as Hope hit a short blooper into center field that allowed Deschamp to score from second for a quick 2-0 lead.
Senior centerfielder Bowen Woodson led off the second frame with a single up the middle, and Willsey perfectly executed a hit-and-run to put runners on the corners. Mabry was run after just one inning, but was replaced on the hill by Ryan Williams, who got the win in game one. He was able to get out of the inning in just two pitches, but one was an RBI-fielder's choice off the bat of Tulane leftfielder Richard Carthon to give Tulane their third run of the game.
Unfortunately, Tulane's lead quickly dissipated once and for all in the bottom of the second. ECU's Ian Townsend and Bryce Harman led off the frame with back-to-back solo homers to right field off Tulane starter J.P. France, cutting Tulane's lead to just one. France hit ECU's Eric Tyler and allowed a single and a fielder's choice. With two runners on, ECU's Ben Fultz blasted a three-run shot to right field for the third four-bagger of the inning to give the Pirates a 5-3 lead before France was replaced by redshirt sophomore Alex Massey after walking Drew Reynolds.
Massey allowed a single to Zach Houchins before he allowed a three-run bomb to Townsend for his second home run of the inning. Once the bottom of the second was all said and done, ECU led 8-3.
"We came out and swung the bats aggressively in game two, but they had those left-handed hitters that took advantage of the short porch and the wind blowing out," said Jones. "J.P. and Alex just left too many balls up. We had 13 hits, but we didn't take care of the baseball in a few situations. You have to play good catch."
In the bottom of the third, Tyler walked and Yorgen reached on an error after sacrificing Tyler up a base. Both moved into scoring position on the errant throw by Massey. Hunter Allen walked to load the bases with just one out before Massey delivered a wild pitch that scored Tyler and advanced the other two runners. A fielder's choice put Yorgen out at home, but Allen came home during the next at bat on a single by Reynolds. Senior lefty replaced Massey on the hill, who was able to get out of the inning.
The offense calmed down for the next few innings for both teams. Tulane managed to tally 10 hits through the first six innings, but they were all singles. Deschamp notched the first extra-base hit for the Green Wave in the top of the seventh on a shot down the right field line that went for a double. But he was left stranded.
In the bottom of the seventh, ECU hit their fifth home run of the game, as Harman went yard on a solo shot to make it 11-3. Right-handed freshman Tyler Zamjahn replaced Wilson after Harman's homer. In the top of the eighth, Zamjahn allowed a single to Allen, who advanced to second on a wild pitch and then to third on a single by Reynolds. Houchins doubled in Allen before Townsend doubled in Reynolds for the ten-run rule.
France (1-2) allowed six runs on just four hits in 1.2 innings for the loss in game two. Wilson pitched 3.2 innings, allowing three hits and one run, while Massey and Zamjahn each pitched one frame.
Game one of the twin bill certainly began as a pitcher's duel, and the defense for both squads played well early. ECU's Reid Love retired the first nine Tulane batters, while LeBlanc retired seven straight Pirates before walking Yorgen for the game's first base runner. The Pirates' Hunter Allen grounded into a fielder's choice and then LeBlanc struckout Fultz to get out of the inning.
Love allowed his first baserunner when he grazed Carthon with a pitch in the top of the fourth, but he was thrown out at second on a fielder's choice off the bat of Willsey who tried to move Carthon up on a bunt. Garner tattooed one into right center field that got caught in a jet stream, but Fultz made a diving stop on a ball that surely would have moved Willsey to at least third base had it fallen.
LeBlanc continued to deal, using just eight pitches in the fourth to retire the side in order. But everything that LeBlanc has done, Love matched it, as he retired the side in the fifth.
ECU collected the game's first hit in the bottom of the fifth, when Townsend singled into left field. But LeBlanc was able to get out of the inning unscathed. In the bottom half of the next inning, Allen led off with a single into centerfield, and Fultz reached on a fielder's choice bunt, as Rogers threw late to second to put two runners on with no outs. Reynolds bunted both runners up for the first out of the frame, putting two runners in scoring position for the first time in the game. Tulane intentionally walked Houchins to load the bases, and Harman hit a sac fly to left field to score the game's first run. A single by Townsend scored Fultz to give ECU a 2-0 lead.
Garner's solo blast over the right field wall in the top of the seventh ended Love's no-hitter and shutout bid.
In the bottom of the seventh, Allen reached on a two-out single and rounded third, headed for home, on a base hit into left field from Fultz. But Carthon came up throwing, and was able to gun Allen out at the plate.
Tulane tied things in the top of the eighth, despite the solid outing from Love. Woodson singled with one out in the top of the eighth, and Alemais hit a seeing-eye grounder through the left side of the infield with two outs on the board. After Love was replaced on the mound by Williams, Carthon stepped to the dish and hit a blooper into left field that was taken on a hop from Harman in left who threw home to attempt to match Carthon's throw from an inning before. The throw was off target, though, and Woodson - who was blocked at the plate by Tyler, without the ball - enthusiastically slapped the plate to tie the contest.
ECU stormed back and retook the lead in the bottom of the eighth, though. Sophomore reliever Emerson Gibbs replaced LeBlanc in the bottom of the eighth, and Gibbs immediately walked Reynolds who was then moved by Houchins to second on a sacrifice bunt, putting the go-ahead run in scoring position. With two outs, Townsend singled into center field to score Reynolds, but Woodson overran the ball to allow Townsend to reach third. The Pirates' Andrew LaMura singled to score Townsend, and Tyler then singled to score pinch-runner Jonathan Holt, giving ECU the three-run lead that they would hold through the end of the contest.
ECU's Williams struck out the side to pick up his first win on the day, posting four strikeouts in 1.1 innings. Reid struck out four over 7.2 innings.
Gibbs (1-2) was tabbed with the loss in game one, allowing three runs in just 1.0 inning of work. LeBlanc pitched 7.0 innings, allowing five hits and two runs while fanning five.
"During our first game, we did not swing the bat well," added Jones. "We were no-hit through six. Randy LeBlanc pitched outstanding, and we fought back and tied it, but Emerson just didn't have his command."
Tulane will return to New Orleans for their lone five-game week of the season on the schedule, with four of the games being played at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium. On Tuesday, the Green Wave will welcome back former Green Wave player and current skipper Matt Riser and his Southeastern Louisiana Lions as the two teams will square off at 6:30pm CT. On Wednesday, Tulane will head across town to newly renovated Maestri Field to take on New Orleans at 6:30pm CT.
Over the weekend, the Green Wave will host new C-USA foe Middle Tennessee State for a three-game series.
In addition to the baseball being played this week, there will be lots of events happening before, during and after the games at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.
On March 18, before the game against Southeastern Louisiana, the Louisiana SPCA will be coming to the ballpark with dogs for potential adoption. They will also be accepting donations in the form of money, unused toys and unopened containers of treats. The Louisiana SPCA will be there from 5:30pm CT through the end of the first inning.
It will also be $2 Tuesday at the ballpark on March 18, with select concession items just two bucks. The Cane's Challenge for Tuesday will be four runs for the Green Wave. Should Tulane score four runs in the contest, fans can bring their ticket stub to Cane's for a Buy One, Get One Free box the following day. Tickets for the game are just $5. Tulane women's head tennis coach Terri Sisk will be throwing out the first pitch.
On Sunday, following the series finale against Middle Tennessee, the Tulane baseball team will shave their heads near their dugout alongside other Tulane student-athletes to help raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer through the Vs. Cancer Foundation. Fans can donate money to the organization inside the gates of the ballpark through the third inning during all four home games this week. For more information on the Vs. Cancer Foundation, please visit www.vs-cancer.org.
For more information on tickets, fans can call 504-861-WAVE (9283), or they may visit the James W. Wilson, Jr., Center's first floor ticket office.
Fans can follow the Tulane baseball program on Twitter (@GreenWaveBSB) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GreenWaveBaseball.