April 1, 2007
METAIRIE, La. - Each of the Green Wave's first six hitters had at least one hit, including sophomore centerfielder Nate Simon's 2-for-4 performance with a home run and two RBI, but it was not enough as the Tulane University baseball team dropped the series finale to Conference USA foe East Carolina, 11-7.
The Green Wave led 7-2 following Simon's two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth, but the Pirates scored six runs on seven hits in the top of the seventh to take an 8-7 advantage they would not relinquish. The big blow in the frame came off the bat of right fielder Ryan Tousley, who belted a two-run homer to right to score the go-ahead run and cap a 5-for-5 performance at the plate.
Despite the loss, Tulane still claimed the series victory over the Pirates after taking the first two games, 2-1 and 8-2, respectively. The loss dropped the Green Wave's overall record to 22-8 on the year and 5-1 in C-USA play. East Carolina, meanwhile, picked up its first win away from home to improve to 21-8 overall and 4-2 in league action.
"I thought we played really hard and we were playing a really good East Carolina club," Tulane head coach Rick Jones said. "We'd love to have the sweep and it looked good for a while, but what happened to us today is not going to happen very often. We're too good of a pitching club, but it's going to happen occasionally. Today was just `one of those days' against a very good club."
East Carolina scored the game's first run on an RBI-grounder by Kemp in the top of the first, but Tulane answered with a pair in the home half of the frame when Simon scored on a balk and sophomore left fielder Anthony Scelfo came around on a sacrifice fly by junior shortstop Cat Everett.
Tulane plated three more in the fifth on a two-run single by junior second baseman Brad Emaus and a sacrifice fly by senior third baseman Tim Guidry, but the Pirates got a run back in the top of the sixth when Mollenhauer singled, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on a Tousley double.
Simon's homer in the bottom of the frame stretched the lead back to five, but that was when the Pirates began their comeback. ECU second baseman Ryan Wood and left fielder Jamie Ray hit back-to-back, one-out singles to get things going, and with two away, leadoff-hitter Harrison Eldridge cut the lead to four with an RBI single through the right side of the infield.
Eldridge's hit chased Tulane starter Brandon Gomes from the game, but relievers Aaron Loup and Taylor Rogers gave up back-to-back singles to account for the next three runs to make it a 7-6 ballgame. Form there, Tulane called on closer Daniel Latham to get the final out of the inning, but Tousley turned on the second pitch he saw and sent it over the wall in right to complete the comeback.
The Pirates added three more runs in the eighth, sandwiching RBI-singles by Mollenhauer and Tousley around a run-scoring double by Kemp to account for the final score.
Gomes pitched well for the Green Wave, giving up five runs on 10 hits while not walking a batter and striking out three. Latham (2-1) was tagged with the loss after allowing four runs on five hits in an inning of work.
"I was proud of our effort," Jones said. "I thought we came out with a lot of energy and commitment. But what can't be lost here is we were playing a really good club. We won the series, but they showed their ability and why they have the type of record they have, and that's by the way they handled things late. I'm still very proud of our effort and it's one of those things where you're disappointed, but when you play enough games, it's going to happen. Just not very often."
Pirates' reliever Jason Neitz (3-0) earned the victory after allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out one in 2.2 scoreless innings, and Brett Butts picked up his first save after retiring the final two batters of the contests.
The Green Wave return to action on Tuesday, April 3, when they play host to arch-rival LSU at 7 p.m. at Zephyr Field. Tickets still remain for that ballgame and can be purchased through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office or TicketMaster. For additional ticket information, contact the ticket office at 504-861-WAVE.