Cannizaro's Grand Slam Caps Big First Inning, Baseball Defeats UTSA, 8-3

TULANEGREENWAVE.COM Senior Garrett Cannizaro hit first career grand slam against UTSA in Tulane's 8-3 win on Sunday.
Senior Garrett Cannizaro hit first career grand slam against UTSA in Tulane's 8-3 win on Sunday.

March 17, 2013

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NEW ORLEANS - Early offense was the name of the game for the Green Wave on Sunday as they put up five runs in the bottom of the first - including a grand slam by senior Garrett Cannizaro - that helped Tulane defeat Texas-San Antonio, 8-3, at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.

Tulane (12-10) had already struck before Cannizaro's first career grand slam, as UTSA (13-7) starter Nolan Trabanino struggled to make an out before giving up the blast. Senior Brennan Middleton doubled to left field on the first pitch of the game, and fellow senior Blake Crohan walked to put two runners on. Senior Brandon Boudreaux reached on an error by UTSA's Horacio Correa III when he laid down a bunt to load the bases. Senior Sean Potkay walked for the 17th time this season to bring Middleton home from third before Cannizaro brought everyone home on his blast to left field.

"That hasn't happened for us much this year," said Tulane baseball head coach Rick Jones. "Teams were fielding .983 against us, nobody was making any errors, so when the third baseman didn't pick up the bunt, that was a great force for us. Garrett put a good swing on the ball, and it was hard to hit the ball out of here today."

Cannizaro finished the week going 7-for-13 at the plate with five walks.

"It's good to get some early offense, no matter how we got it," said Cannizaro. "It was just good to get out front. Really, I was just looking for a pitch to drive, I got a fastball kind of up in the zone, and I put the barrel on it."

Senior lefty David Napoli got the start on the mound for the Greenies, and was put on a pre-determined pitch count due to an injury he suffered two weeks ago against New Orleans. However, Napoli (1-1) came out strong striking out two in the first and retiring the side in the second.

"It felt great to get back out there," said Napoli. "I haven't thrown in two weeks so it felt awesome to get back out there and face some hitters again."

After the initial five runs were scored, UTSA pulled Trabanino (3-2) in favor of Logan Onda, who retired the next three batters he faced to get out of the first.

UTSA attempted to chip away at Tulane's lead in the third when Jesse Baker led off with a double to left center, advancing to third base on a balk. Correa III made up for his defensive mishap when he singled deep in the infield, scoring Baker from third. Napoli then got RJ Perucki and Mike Warren to pop up foul to end the inning.

Tulane put up three more runs in the fourth inning with two outs, Crohan, Middleton and Boudreaux reached on a fielder's choice, a single and a walk, respectively. Potkay came to the plate and lifted a high fly ball into shallow right field. UTSA's Rodney Garza, Baker and Warren all converged on the ball, but none could get to it in time as it fell to the ground, bringing all three base runners home, furthering Tulane's lead.

"It was great that we got out to a five run lead, but we're stressing to not quit putting the pedal down," said Middleton. "We're not satisfied. It was a sense of relief that we got that early lead, but we're harping on not letting off the pedal and continuing to keep the momentum on our side of the field by putting the pressure on them and not on us."

Junior Kyle McKenzie - who relieved Napoli to start the fourth - allowed only one base runner in the fourth and fifth innings, combined. However, he faced a little adversity in the top of the sixth after walking Perucki on four straight pitches. After inducing a fly ball out to Warren, designated hitter Tony Ramirez singled through the right side, advancing Perucki to third. With runners at the corners, catcher John Bormann singled to center field, scoring Perucki and moving Ramirez to second base. John Welborn walked to load the bases, and McKenzie was pulled in favor of freshman Daniel Rankin. Garza hit a 1-0 pitch into left field for a sacrifice fly before Rankin was able to get out of the inning with Tulane still leading, 8-3.

Cannizaro added to his line by notching a single to right center to start the seventh, and junior Andrew Garner was hit by a pitch. UTSA changed pitchers again, bringing in Wesley Cox who got freshman Tim Yandel to ground into a double play to end the inning.

Rankin retired the side in the eighth inning, and when UTSA came back to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, Garner was on the mound. He only needed five pitches to get three outs, allowing Tulane to win the rubber match in the series against UTSA.

Cannizaro finished the game going 2-for-4 with four RBIs and a run. Middleton went 3-for-5 with two runs, and Potkay also had a multi-hit contest, going 2-for-3 with a run and four RBIs.

Tulane will take a day off before returning to Greer Field at Turchin Stadium on Tuesday for a tilt against cross-town rival New Orleans, slated to begin at 3pm CST. It will mark the second time this season the two teams have squared off against one another, with the other contest favoring the Green Wave, 5-3 back on Feb. 27.

Fans can tune into Tulane's flagship station, 106.1 The Ticket, to listen to the live broadcast. Live stats will be made available on TulaneGreenWave.com.

You can follow the Tulane baseball program on Twitter (@GreenWaveBSB) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GreenWaveBaseball.