March 30, 2013
HOUSTON - Tulane baseball escaped a furious Rice rally in the eighth and ninth innings to win the third game of the series, 7-6, by stranding the tying run at third base in the bottom of the ninth.
Tulane (15-15, 3-3) freshman Ian Gibaut - who was credited with the loss on Saturday - came on in relief of junior Andrew Garner in the bottom of the ninth after Rice scored four in the eighth. With two men on base already for Rice (20-10, 4-2), and the score at 7-5, Christian Stringer sacrificed both runners into scoring position. Gibaut was able to get Geoff Perrott to groundout to third, scoring Ford Stainback from third. With Leon Byrd ninety feet away from tying the game, Gibaut got Michael Aquino to flyout to end the contest.
"The end was just so tense," said Tulane baseball head coach Rick Jones. "The key thing was after a really tough night finding the plate last night, Ian came out and got the job done today. He had a very short memory, and honestly, it was much shorter than mine. It salvages a game in this series for us. If there is such a thing as a must win, this is one."
Senior David Napoli pitched very well in his 7.0 innings of work for the Greenies, allowing only one run in the fifth, while giving up only three hits. Napoli (3-1) kept his pitch count low to keep him in the game for his longest outing of the season.
"David Napoli was just outstanding," added Jones. "He negated their offense."
Tulane got runs early, albeit not on too many h its. In the first inning, the Greenies managed to put three runs on the board on only one hit. Freshman Richard Carthon led the game off with a walk, and senior Brennan Middleton followed him to the bases when he was hit by Rice starter John Simms. Senior Blake Crohan moved both of them into scoring position on a fielder's choice sacrifice bunt when Simms (4-2) tried to throw Carthon out at third. With the bases loaded, senior Brandon Boudreaux collected one of his two RBIs on the day when he reached on a fielder's choice that put Crohan out at second, moved Middleton to third and scored Carthon. Senior Garrett Cannizaro was plunked by Simms to load the bags again, and senior Sean Potkay laced a single to right field that scored Boudreaux and Middleton for the 3-0 lead.
Junior Bowen Woodson walked to leadoff the second inning, ending Simms' day after only 1.0 inning of work. Blake Fox relieved him on the mound, and after retiring two batters, allowed consecutive singles to Crohan and Boudreaux, the latter of which scored Woodson for the 4-0 lead.
Napoli allowed a hit in both the third and fourth inning, and gave up his only run in the fifth after loading the bases with one out. Leadoff man Keenan Cook hit a double into left field, and then Napoli issued two free passes before getting Stringer to ground into a double play that scored Cook.
In the seventh, Tulane extended their lead - and it was something they would eventually need. Crohan took first base after getting hit by a pitch by Rice's Kevin McCanna, and he went to second when Boudreaux singled to right field. When Cannizaro attempted to sacrifice them both over a base, McCanna overthrew Rice's first baseman, allowing Crohan to score. With runners on the corners, Garner doubled into right center to score both Boudreaux and Cannizaro, giving the Greenies a 7-1 lead.
Things got a bit hairy in the eighth when Garner - who started in the designated hitter spot - replaced Napoli on the mound. He started off the inning by hitting Byrd, and then walking Stringer on four straight pitches. Perrott singled into right field to load the bases before Aquino singled down the left field line to score Byrd. Skyler Ewing then hit a sacrifice fly to right field to make the score 7-3. Garner loaded the bases once again on a full-count walk to Ratterree, and then proceeded to balk, allowing Perrott to score to make the game 7-4. Pinch hitter Conner Teykl hit a shot into the left field foul territory that was tracked down by a sliding Carthon, but still allowed Aquino to come home before Cook flied out to end the inning.
Fortunately for the Green Wave, Gibaut was able to come on in relief in the ninth after throwing just 20 pitches Friday evening. For his efforts today, Gibaut earned his sixth save on the year.
Boudreaux had a big game at the plate, going 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs. Carthon, Middleton, Crohan all notched a hit and a run, while Woodson went 2-for-3 with a run. Cannizaro scored Tulane's other run.
When Tulane defeated Rice last year for their only win against the Owls in 2012, Napoli happened to be on the mound that day, as well. The New Orleans native pitched 5.2 innings in the 7-2 Green Wave victory last April. Napoli is the only pitcher in Tulane history to record two wins against Rice.
The Greenies will host in-state rival Nicholls State on Tuesday at 6:30pm CT at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium, and the game will be broadcast on 106.1 The Ticket.
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