March 19, 2011
NEW ORLEANS - A five-run second inning proved to be the difference maker in the Tulane baseball team's 7-4 victory over New Orleans on Saturday afternoon. Jeremy Schaffer delivered two RBI's for the #22-ranked Green Wave and Kyle McKenzie tossed six innings in the start on the mound to help the Olive and Blue extend their winning streak to five games.
"I thought UNO really played hard today and they played with some resolve," said Tulane head coach Rick Jones. "They played to win. Fortunately for us, we made some really good defensive plays and had that second inning, but UNO really came after us today. Kyle had really good stuff, but the issue has been, and was today, a concentration issue."
For the fourth straight game, Tulane opened the scoring in the first inning when Matt Ryan singled to start the game and moved to third on a Blake Crohan base hit. Jeremy Schaffer then grounded into a double play and the Green Wave led 1-0.
The lead was extended to 6-0 in the second inning when Tulane tacked on five unearned runs against New Orleans starting pitcher Robert Ormsbee. The first two batters were retired by Ormsbee, but Brennan Middleton got the offense started with a single up the middle. A Nick Boullosa bunt single and a walk to Ryan loaded the bases and Blake Crohan followed by hitting a ball to the UNO third baseman, but an error allowed Crohan to reach and the first two runs of the inning to score. Schaffer doubled to right center in the next at bat, collecting two RBI's, and Garrett Cannizaro followed with an RBI single to cap the scoring in the second.
Kyle McKenzie coasted through the first three innings, retiring the first nine batters he faced, but the Privateers scored a single run in the fourth and Nolan Church's tripled with the bases loaded to cut the Tulane lead to 6-4 heading to the bottom of the fifth.
McKenzie threw six complete and allowed four runs on six hits before being relieved by Alex Facundus to start the seventh. The sophomore fanned a career-high eight batters and walked three, improving to 2-2 on the season.
"That has been the thing all year, just staying focused out there," said McKenzie. "I kind of got away from my approach and my rhythm in the fifth, but me and Coach Sutter talked between innings about going out there and throwing a shutdown sixth inning. That can't happen, especially with the way our staff is. We have to go deep into games, so it was disappointing."
Crohan added to the Tulane lead with his second home run of the season in the sixth inning against UNO reliever Garrett Manning, making it a 7-4 ballgame. That was all of the offense that the Green Wave would need as Facundus threw two scoreless innings and struck out batter, before handing the ball to Nick Pepitone in the ninth inning.
Pepitone struck out the first two batters of the inning and then got a ground ball to first base to seal Tulane's 15th victory of the season. It was the ninth save of the season for the senior and gives him 26 for his career. That save also moves him past Rice's Cole St. Clair (25 saves) for fifth on the Conference USA all-time list.
"That would be huge. Going into every series (we are) trying to win the series," said Schaffer. "If you can win the first two games then Sundays you can try to sweep. That is what we expect to do. We expected to do it before the series. We expect to do it tomorrow, and it would be big for our ball club to do it."
Brennan Middleton posted three hits in the contest, Schaffer and Ryan each chipped in a pair of hits in Saturday's contest. Ryan and Crohan each scored three runs, while Crohan and Cannizaro each collected an RBI in the game. Four Green Wave players will carry five game hitting streaks into Sunday's contest, as Crohan, Ryan, Schaffer and Schneeberger have all hit in the last five contests.
The Green Wave and the Privateers will conclude their weekend series on Sunday, March 20 with a 1:00 first pitch on the Uptown campus.