March 21, 2008
NEW ORLEANS, La. - Junior right-hander Shooter Hunt struck out eight in a 5.0-inning start and sophomore righty allowed just one hit over the final four stanzas as the Tulane University baseball team defeated Sacred Heart, 8-0, Friday evening at the new Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.
The shutout was the fourth in a row in weekend competition for the Wave, and the sixth overall on the year. Tulane is now just one shutout victory shy of last year's total and two shy of the school record. With the win, Tulane improves to 14-6 on the year. Sacred Heart, meanwhile, falls to 1-14.
"We wanted to minimize Shooter and we wanted to stretch Preston out a little bit," Tulane head coach Rick Jones said. "If (Claiborne is) going to get into a role that's more substantial, he needed some lengthy time. I thought both of those guys were positives tonight. I thought we had some good at-bats early. Scott Powell set the tone early for us, as did Anthony Scelfo and Jared Dyer. The front of our lineup was very, very good, and we played errorless defense once again."
Hunt (4-0), who allowed just a pair of hits while walking three during his time on the hill, posted at least one strikeout in each inning he toed the rubber to extend his consecutive innings-with-a-punchout streak to 26. Claiborne, meanwhile, fanned four and walk a pair to earn his first save of the season.
While the pitching duo where taking care of business on the mound, the offense did the same at the plate as Tulane posted double-digit hits (14) for the fourth consecutive game. Junior infielder Anthony Scelfo led all playes with three hits, including an RBI-triple in part of a three-run second, while junior right fielder Scott Powell, junior catcher Jared Dyer, junior centerfielder Aja Barto and junior middle infielder Seth Henry had two hits apiece.
Powell scored the game's first run on a sacrifice fly by junior left fielder Warren McFadden in the first. One inning later, Henry scored on a balk by Sacred Heart starter Ryan Lynch, Powell scored on Scelfo's triple and Scelfo scored on a 5-3 groundout by Dyer to put Tulane ahead 4-0.
Following a scoreless third, Powell scored again after hitting a one-out double, advancing to third on a wild pitch and touching the paystatoin on an RBI single by Dyer. Henry pushed the Green Wave lead to 7-0 with a two-run triple in the fifth, and Scelfo scored the game's final run when he stole home on a force-pick play in the sixth.
"We're just going up there really confident," Dyer said of Tulane's offensive outburst. "We're able to stay loose and everything has worked for us. There's no getting tight up there like it was a little earlier in the season."
The story of the game, however, was pitching. After allowing a bloop double to Justin Mulrain to open the ballgame, Hunt sandwiched a pair of strikeouts around a fly ball to right to get out of the first. He posted a pair of strikeouts in the second and retired the side in order in the third.
Hunt walked a pair in the fourth, one of which was erased on a caught-stealing throw by Dyer, but got out of the inning with another strikeout, and punched out a pair in his fifth and final stanza.
"The fastball was really going today," Hunt said. "I was really pitching off of that. I felt like I could spot it up where I wanted to and that is what I'm going to need when we go into a tough Conference USA schedule. Going into conference, we wanted to shorten it down a little bit after the last couple of weeks when I went pretty long. We went with that and it worked out. Preston did a great job when he came in for the last four innings."
From there, Claiborne faced just three more than the minimum during his time toeing the rubber. He pitched his way around a one-out walk in the sixth, retired the side in order in the seventh, got three ground-ball outs in the eighth and struck out a pair of pinch-hitters before getting another ground-ball to first to preserve the shutout.
"Tonight, I had good control of my fastball. I had to work on my change-up a little bit, but my slider and my fastball felt the best so I went with that," Claiborne said. "Normally, I don't go that long. I've always been a set-up guy or a short reliever. They asked me in the eighth if I wanted to go out for the ninth, and I said `sure.' Whatever they want me to do, that's fine with me."
Lynch (0-3) was saddled with the loss after allowing seven runs on 11 hits and three walks while posting a strikeout in 4.2 innings. Chris Zaccherio went the next 2.1 innings for the Pioneers, allowing a run on two hits and a walk while fanning three, and Chris Barhel pitched his way around a two-out double by junior-pinch hitter Drew Allain in a scoreless eighth.
Tulane and Scared Heart continue the series on Saturday at 2 p.m. before closing out the weekend on Sunday with first pitch slated for 1 p.m. For ticket information, contact the Tulane University Athletics Ticket Office at 504-861-WAVE or go on-line at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.