March 23, 2014
NEW ORLEANS - Looking for their first sweep against a Conference USA opponent in two seasons, the Tulane baseball team came up short after allowing a go-ahead home run to Middle Tennessee in the top of the seventh to give the Blue Raiders a 5-4 win over the Green Wave on Sunday afternoon at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.
Leading 4-1 heading into the top of the fourth, Tulane's (12-11, 5-4) starting pitcher Emerson Gibbs allowed three runs to tie things up before redshirt sophomore relief pitcher Alex Massey took over in the top of the fifth inning. Massey gave up just one hit through his first two innings on the mound, but Middle Tennessee's (9-13, 5-4) Jake Ingold led off the top of the seventh with a home run to left field to put the Blue Raiders ahead once and for all.
Despite the Blue Raiders jumping out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first, the Green Wave battled back and scored three times in the bottom of the first. Middle Tennessee starting pitcher Jonathan Frebis walked the bases loaded with one out, and senior outfielder Andrew Garner made him pay with his second bases clearing hit of the week, lacing a double into left center.
In the next inning, the Green Wave scored again as freshman shortstop Stephen Alemais singled on a bunt and stole second base before moving to third on a groundout and scoring on a sacrifice fly by freshman second baseman Jake Willsey.
But things turned south in the top of the fourth. Tulane sophomore starter Emerson Gibbs allowed a double down the left field line to Trent Miller to lead off the inning, and he moved to third on a bunt single by Jared Allen. With runners on the corners, Gibbs was able to strikeout Hank LaRue and sophomore catcher Cameron Burns - who made his first start of the season on the day - gunned down Allen trying to reach second on a steal. With two outs on the board, Gibbs allowed an RBI-single to Michael Adkins before walking Austin Bryant. Ingold then notched a two-RBI double to right center to tie the game.
"(Gibbs) made a great pitch," said Tulane baseball associate head coach Chad Sutter. "That's sometimes the unfortunate thing of playing with aluminum bats. He made a great pitch, threw the ball exactly where he wanted to. If he could have walked down and placed the ball, he'd have placed it right there. When you're dealing with a big strong kid and aluminum bats, sometimes good pitches don't get rewarded. It thought he did a great job of getting himself to that situation. The strikeout was huge, and it put him in a great position to get out of it."
Middle Tennessee pulled Frebis after 4.0 innings and replaced him with reliever Kooper Kessler, who pitched the final 5.0 innings of the game. Kessler (1-0) was credited with the win after striking out five and walking just one. In the bottom of the seventh and eighth innings, Kessler was able to retire the Tulane side in order.
The Green Wave had one last chance in the bottom of the ninth to tie things up. Freshman designated hitter Barry Buchowski walked to reach base for the third time on the day, and freshman outfielder Grant Brown replaced the New Jersey native on the basepaths. Brown moved to second base on a ground out by senior outfielder Bowen Woodson before moving to just 90 feet away from tying the contest on another ground out by freshman catcher Jake Rogers, who entered the game in the eighth inning. With Alemais - Saturday's hero at the plate - stepping to the dish, the Green Wave just had to put the ball in play to tie up the contest. Alemais hit a sharp line drive that looked like it might get into right field, but the Blue Raiders' Bryant was able to snag the ball at second base on the fly for the game's final out.
Massey (1-3) was credited with the loss despite a strong outing. He allowed just two hits while striking out three and walking one in 3.0 innings of work. Sophomore Dan Rankin and sophomore Tim Yandel pitched the final two innings, allowing no hits and combining for two strikeouts.
Frebis walked six and struck out three in 4.0 innings.
Alemais, Garner and freshman third baseman Hunter Hope were the only three Tulane batters to collect hits on the afternoon. Buchowski walked three times, tying for the most by an individual batter in a game this season.
Tulane has a big challenge ahead on Tuesday as the Green Wave will welcome in-state rival LSU to Greer Field at Turchin Stadium on Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30pm CT. The game will be broadcast on the home of Tulane baseball for the 2014 season, 88.3 FM WRBH, and live stats can be followed on the TulaneGreenWave.com baseball schedule page.
The Rosen Lot behind right field will open three hours prior to first pitch. Once the Rosen Lot is full, cars will be directed towards the Diboll Parking Garage down Ben Weiner Drive. Limited bleacher seats are still available for the contest. Please call 504-861-WAVE (9283) for ticketing questions or visit the ticket office on the first floor of the James W. Wilson Jr. Center.
Fans can follow the Tulane baseball program on Twitter (@GreenWaveBSB) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GreenWaveBaseball.