March 22, 2014
NEW ORLEANS - Extra innings were needed by the Tulane baseball team on Saturday to get their second consecutive win against Middle Tennessee, as freshman shortstop Stephen Alemais walked with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th frame to secure the series for Tulane at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.
Tulane (12-10, 5-3) had a few other opportunities to notch the game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth and ninth, as the Green Wave were able to load the bases in both innings with the score tied at one. However, Middle Tennessee's (8-13, 4-4) relief pitcher Garrett Ring was able to pickoff a Tulane baserunner in the eighth before inducing a double-play ball in the ninth to get out of both jams.
Ring (0-3) didn't help his chances much in the 11th inning, though, as junior first baseman Garrett Deschamp singled to right field to lead things off. Freshman Jake Rogers hit a ball to shortstop that could have been a double play, but Deschamp reached second safely and second baseman Austin Bryant then threw the ball away to first, moving both runners into scoring position. After freshman designated hitter Garrett Deschamp was intentionally walked for the second time in the game, Alemais was dealt a ball high on a full count to score Deschamp from third for the victory.
"Obviously, a freshman in that situation, you always wonder how he's going to react, but (Alemais) had a great at-bat," said Tulane baseball associate head coach Chad Sutter. "He came out 2-0, got to 2-2, and he could've pressed and swung at some balls outside of the zone, but he made the pitcher try to throw a strike. It was huge at-bat for him and for our team. We won the series, but we have a chance to come out tomorrow and do something that is pretty special."
Tulane was also fortunate to get solid outings from their pitchers on the day. Redshirt junior Randy LeBlanc started the game, and while he did allow nine hits over 5.1 innings, he was able to hold Middle Tennessee to just one run. Freshman righty J.P. France came on in relief of LeBlanc, and picked up the win by going 5.2 innings while fanning four and allowing just three hits. France (2-2) and LeBlanc walked just one batter each.
"(J.P.) pounded strikes, had three pitches going, and kept the ball down," added Sutter. "He really did a good job of setting the tone and setting the pace of the game, which you don't see often from a freshman. It's a huge lift for us, because we are going into tomorrow where we get Kyle McKenzie back, and we only had to use one pitcher, outside of Randy, so we are going into tomorrow with a rested and strong bullpen."
Despite 21 hits by both teams combined, only three runs were scored. Middle Tennessee outhit Tulane, 12-9, and the game marked the fourth contest of the season that Tulane has won while being outhit by their opponent.
Tulane struck first in the bottom of the fourth with two outs, as Deschamp doubled down the left field line and came home on an RBI-single off the bat of freshman third baseman Hunter Hope, who then reached second on an error. Rogers singled into right, and Hope made a mad dash for home, but he was thrown out at the plate by Middle Tennessee outfielder Jake Ellison.
Middle Tennessee tied up the contest in the top of the sixth. LeBlanc was replaced by France with the bases loaded, and France's first pitch was wild, allowing Jared Allen to come home. A head's up play by Rogers behind the dish, throwing a strike to third base to put out Ryan Stephens on the same play kept Middle Tennessee from scoring again.
The only other chance Middle Tennessee truly had to pull ahead was in the top of the tenth inning. Trey Miller reached on a fielding error and then moved over to second on a throwing error in the same play before advancing to third on a fly out. With two outs on the board, France was able to get Stephens to ground out back to the mound, stranding the go-ahead run 90 feet from home.
Deschamp, Hope and freshman second baseman Jake Willsey led the way for the Green Wave with two hits each. Rogers, sophomore outfielder Richard Carthon and freshman outfielder Lex Kaplan also posted a hit each.
Williams, who picked up his sixth start on the season, was intentionally walked twice. No Tulane player has been intentionally walked twice in one game since Nathan Southard was awarded first on two occasions in a game against Marshall on May 6, 2006.
Ring, who was credited with the loss, pitched 3.1 innings, allowing three hits and walking four, including the two intentional walks to Williams. Middle Tennessee starter Paul Mittura threw 6.0 innings, allowing five hits and fanning four.
Tulane will return to Greer Field at Turchin Stadium on Sunday for a 1pm CT first pitch against Middle Tennessee.
On Sunday, the `National Anthem Girl' will be at the ballpark to sing the Star Spangled Banner. Janine Stange is attempting to sing the National Anthem in all 50 states, and currently has 31 states to go. It will also be Academy Sports Kids Day on Sunday, where kids can stand next to their favorite players during the National Anthem while also running the bases postgame.
Also on Sunday, the Green Wave baseball team will shave their heads after Sunday's contest to raise funds and awareness for pediatric cancer through the Vs. Cancer Foundation. Fans can donate to the organization inside of the stadium up to the third inning during all three games this weekend.
For more information on the Vs. Cancer Foundation, and how you can help the effort of founder Chase Jones on making a difference in the lives of pediatric cancer patients, please visit www.vs-cancer.org. To make a donation to Tulane's team page for the Vs. Cancer Foundation, please visit tulane.vs-cancer.org. At that page, one can make a donation to the team as a whole, or one's donation can be credited directly to the fundraising page of any of the Green Wave baseball players' pages.
Fans can follow the Tulane baseball program on Twitter (@GreenWaveBSB) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GreenWaveBaseball.