March 28, 2013
HOUSTON - A true pitchers' duel ensued at Reckling Park in Houston as Tulane's Tony Rizzotti and Rice's Austin Kubitza squared off against one another, with Rice taking the game, 4-2, on a windy Thursday evening.
Rizzotti (4-3) pitched a complete game in the losing effort, allowing ten hits over eight innings, striking out four.
"We wasted a very good outing from Tony Rizzotti tonight because we didn't take care of the ball early," said Tulane baseball head coach Rick Jones. "We had to go up against their best guy, so we had to make sure that we didn't give up runs, and in the second inning, we didn't take care of the baseball."
Rice's (19-9, 3-1) Kubitza was impressive, but was knocked out early after surrendering five walks in his 6.0 innings on the mound. He managed to strikeout six Tulane (14-14, 2-2) batters, and he only allowed three hits for his fourth win of the year.
Tulane collected six hits at the plate, but only managed to score two runs, as they hit into three inning-ending double plays. Senior Blake Crohan led the Greenies at the plate, going 2-for-4 on the day.
In the bottom of the first, Rizzotti walked the leadoff man Leon Byrd, but Rice left him stranded on the base paths. Things started off the same in the second inning as Rizzotti allowed a leadoff single to designated hitter Michael Aquino. Kennan Cook then laid down a bunt right in front of home plate that was mishandled by Crohan, allowing him to reach first on an infield hit. A second straight bunt by Geoff Perrott put both runners in scoring position, and a groundout by Connor Teykl scored Aquino from third. Michael Ratterree walked, and on a steal attempt, he hung up between first and second. However, the throw from Crohan to second base was very short, and despite getting Ratterree out to end the inning, Cook came home before the final out of the inning to give Rice a 2-0 lead.
In the third inning, Rice's Skyler Ewing, who faced Rizzotti in high school when they both played in Arlington, Texas, smacked a leadoff double to right center, and stole third. After retiring Byrd for the first out, Ford Stainback singled to left field to score Ewing.
The Green Wave got on the board in the top of the sixth when leadoff man Brandon Boudreaux walked to open the inning. Crohan singled to right field on a hit-and-run to move Boudreaux all the way to third with just one out. Senior Garrett Cannizaro hit a frozen rope line drive to left field that found the glove of Cook, but Boudreaux was able to come home on the sacrifice fly, making the score 3-1.
Tulane gave the run right back in the bottom of the sixth when Aquino walked in the leadoff spot, eventually advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt by Cook. A double down the left field line by Perrott scored Aquino. With one out, Rice nearly put another run on the board in the inning when Teykl sent a high fly ball down the left field line. Freshman left fielder Richard Carthon made a sliding catch of the ball right on the foul line that could have scored Perrott from second had the ball dropped in fair territory. Tulane managed to get out of the inning with no further damage.
In the top of the seventh, Tulane threatened when junior Andrew Garner led the frame off with a four pitch walk. With 6.0 innings under his belt, Kubitza (4-1) was pulled by Rice head coach Wayne Graham in favor of lefty Blake Fox. Carthon hit into a fielder's choice that put Garner out at second base. He advanced to second a single by fellow freshman Tim Yandel. With Bowen Woodson representing the tying run at the plate, the junior grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Rice once again nearly scored in the eighth, but another amazing play in the outfield by the Greenies kept that from happening. With Ewing reaching second on a sacrifice bunt after singling, a fly ball to the right field wall by Rice's Christian Stringer could have easily been a double. However, Garner made a sliding catch into the wall, and doubled up Ewing - who had already rounded third on the play - to end the inning.
The Green Wave made it a two-run ballgame in the top of the eighth when Boudreaux led off with a single to center field and senior Brennan Middleton walked. After two straight outs, senior Sean Potkay singled through the left side to score Boudreaux. However, Middleton and Potkay were left stranded.
Rice closer Zech Lemond - who came on in the eighth inning - retired three straight in the top of the ninth for his seventh save of the season.
Tulane will send senior Alex Byo out to the mound tomorrow night to face Rice's Jordan Stephens. The game is slated to begin at 6:30pm CT, and will be broadcast on 106.1 The Ticket. Live stats will be made available through TulaneGreenWave.com.
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