March 21, 2014
NEW ORLEANS - It took an all-around effort by the Tulane baseball team on Friday to defeat Conference USA opponent Middle Tennessee, but the Green Wave got just that, as senior starter Tyler Mapes struck-out a career high eight batters and got help from some stellar defense and at the dish from the Tulane bats in a 2-0 win at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.
Mapes (4-0) earned his fourth win of the season after pitching 7.0 innings of four-hit ball while allowing no runs in Tulane's (11-10, 4-3) third shutout of the season. Of those three shutouts, Mapes has been on the mound for two. Senior righty Kyle McKenzie came on at the end of Friday's contest for his third save of the year.
"(Mapes) set a tone by pounding strikes, and I think that it's always good when you can have a fifth year senior out there on Friday night, especially when a team's been struggling," said Tulane associated head coach Chad Sutter. "He knows the team, and he's been on teams that have had big winning and losing streaks, so he knows how to prepare for this game. He knew that we needed a lift."
At the dish, Tulane collected seven hits despite a solid outing from Middle Tennessee (8-12, 4-3) southpaw Zac Curtis, who fanned 11 in 7.0 innings of work. However, the Green Wave collected hits when it counted, getting a 3-for-4 performance from junior first baseman Garrett Deschamp and a 2-for-4 outing from freshman second baseman Jake Willsey. Freshman third baseman Hunter Hope and leadoff sophomore outfielder Richard Carthon tacked on hits as well.
In the bottom of the second frame, Tulane struck for what ended up being the only run they needed in the contest. Deschamp led off with a double to left field and moved to third on a fly out to right by Hope. Freshman catcher Jake Rogers grounded out to short, but his ball was hit slow enough that Deschamp was able to come home for the first run of the game.
After that, Mapes allowed a double to left center in the top of the fourth off the bat of Middle Tennessee's Jared Allen. But Mapes and his defense behind him were able to get out of a jam. The defense came into play on a few other occasions on the night, as well. With two outs in the top of the fifth, Middle Tennessee's Jake Ellison hit a ball up the middle that freshman shortstop Stephen Alemais was able to get to. The Bronx, N.Y., native stopped the ball and spun around to gun Ellison out at first to end the frame. In the next inning, Austin Bryant hit a short blooper towards left field, but a charging Carthon dove and made a sno-cone catch to keep Bryant off the base paths.
"Pitching and defense really make the game, and I think if those are both going well, it allows the offense time to settle in," added Sutter.
Settle in they did, as Tulane tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. Carthon led off the inning with a single to third base, and he moved to second on a balk by Curtis (2-1). Senior outfielder Andrew Garner then walked before Deschamp came to the plate and stroked a single to center field that scored Carthon from second.
In the top of the eighth, McKenzie came on in relief of Mapes, and he made quick work of the Blue Raiders, retiring them in order. However, in the top of the ninth, things got a little hairy. After striking out Trent Miller, McKenzie allowed a single to Allen before walking Stephens. A ball hit back to McKenzie by Michael Adkins was not fielded cleanly, and McKenzie was only able to get the hitter out at first. After walking Kaleb King to load the bases, McKenzie was able to get Jake Ingold to ground into a fielder's choice to end the game.
McKenzie struck out one and walked two for his third save. Middle Tennessee pitched Matt Blackham for the last inning, and he struck out one and walked one. Curtis allowed all seven hits of the game, as well as the two runs (both earned).
Tulane shutout Arkansas-Pine Bluff during the season opener on Feb. 14, 7-0. A few weeks later, Mapes joined forces with Garner and sophomore pitcher Dan Rankin for a 1-0 shutout at Nicholls State on Feb. 25. The 2013 squad only recorded three shutouts in 58 games last year, meaning the current team has tied that mark through just 21 games this season.
Tulane will return to the field tomorrow for the second game in the series against Middle Tennessee. First pitch is scheduled for 2pm CT.
All weekend long, fans can donate a bag of Mardi Gras beads and receive a ticket voucher for a future Green Wave baseball game, excluding the March 25 contest against LSU.
On Saturday, March 22, it will be Father/Son Day at the ballpark, where fans can buy one adult ticket and get one youth ticket free.
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