March 22, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - Behind 4-0 to start the bottom of the fourth, Tulane's baseball team strung together six runs over the next three innings to take the lead - and the win - over Conference USA rival Memphis, 6-4, on Friday night at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.
In the bottom of the fourth, Tulane (13-11, 1-0) began to chip away at Memphis' (12-9, 0-1) early lead when senior Sean Potkay brought fellow senior Brennan Middleton home on a sacrifice fly to left field. In the next frame, Tulane added three runs to tie the game, and the Greenies scored the go-ahead run and an extra one for insurance purposes in the sixth on a two-RBI single by senior Brandon Boudreaux.
Tulane won their C-USA opener despite facing one of the nation's best pitchers in Memphis' Sam Moll. Fortunately for Tulane, redshirt sophomore Tony Rizzotti is an ace in his own right, as he went 7.0 innings and striking out four for his fourth win of the season.
"It's a huge win," said Tulane baseball associate head coach Chad Sutter. "It's always huge to come out and win the first game, the conference opener. We faced a really tough pitcher. I thought our guys, even though we struggled to get some hits, did a great job running up pitch counts and getting that guy out of the game early."
Rizzotti (4-2) gave up two early runs in the second inning when Memphis' Carter White struck out swinging, but reached first base on a wild pitch. He eventually came around to score the first run of the game on a double by Drew Griffin. When Ethan Gross flied out to right field, Griffin advanced to third and eventually scored when Rizzotti overthrew Potkay on a pickoff attempt.
In the fourth inning, the Arlington, Texas, native allowed a leadoff single to White, who advanced to third on a single through the left side by Griffin. Austin Hatfield sacrificed Griffin to second, and White came home to score the third run of the contest. Griffin made it to third on a wild pitch from Rizzotti, his second of the evening, and he scored when senior Garrett Cannizaro caught a fly ball in foul territory down the right field line from Gross.
However, Tulane clawed back, starting with Potkay's sacrifice fly in the fourth. Junior Bowen Woodson laced a shot to second base for an infield single with one out in the bottom of the fifth, and freshman Richard Carthon reached on an error by Zach Willis, advancing Woodson to second. Boudreaux singled to right field to score Woodson from second to cut Memphis' lead in half. With runners on the corners, Middleton was hit by a pitch to load the bags. Senior Blake Crohan hit into what sure to be a double play right in front of the plate, but when Memphis catcher Keaton Aldridge got the force out at home, he threw the ball clear into right field, missing Memphis' first baseman, and allowing Middleton and Boudreaux to score to tie the contest.
Moll was replaced by Heith Hatfield after pitching 5.0 innings, allowing four runs, one walk and striking out five. Hatfield (1-1) came in, and after getting two outs in the sixth, freshman Tim Yandel singled to center field, and Woodson and Carthon followed the single up with walks to load the bases. Conner Porter replaced Hatfield on the mound, and Boudreaux laced the two-RBI single on a 2-2 count to take the lead.
In the eighth, freshman Ian Gibaut stepped to the mound for the Green Wave, and he retired the side in the inning, striking out two. While the tying-run reached base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Gibaut made easy work of Bryce Beeler - who had gone 3-for-5 on the evening - to earn his fourth save on the year.
Hatfield pitched 0.2 innings, allowing two earned runs, one hit and two walks for the decision. It was his first loss of the year.
Three Greenie batters notched multi-hit games, with Boudreaux going 3-for-4 at the dish with a run and three RBIs, Crohan going 2-for-5 and Woodson going 2-for-3 with two runs and a walk. Middleton, Potkay and Yandel all added hits, as well.
"They were aggressive all day," added Sutter. "Being aggressive at the plate is not only a good approach to have, but it makes it fun. When you go up there and get the go ahead to be aggressive, it can carry over. We had some big at-bats. Brandon Boudreaux had a great night. Back in the leadoff spot, he was comfortable. It was something that as a staff we'd been talking about for a while and planning on doing. I think it gave us a big lift. But we just had some quality at-bats when it counted. Still a little concerning that we had a chance at pushing more runs across and put the nail in the coffin and weren't able to get it done. We came out, we had a plan, and they executed it for the most part.
Tulane baseball head coach Rick Jones did not attend tonight's game due to an illness. He is expected back in the dugout for tomorrow's contest.
During Saturday's 2pm CT start, senior right-handed pitcher Alex Byo will take to the mound for the Greenies. Memphis will start left-handed sophomore Erik Schoenrock, the son of Memphis baseball head coach Daron Schoenrock.
Fans can tune into Tulane's flagship station, 106.1 The Ticket, to listen to the live broadcast for tomorrow's contest. All weekend, fans can follow live stats on TulaneGreenWave.com.
You can follow the Tulane baseball program on Twitter (@GreenWaveBSB) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GreenWaveBaseball.