April 1, 2009
NEW ORLEANS- The Tulane Green Wave baseball club came out in fine form Wednesday night, as they put on a show before a paying crowd of 4,987 fans at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium, who saw the team outshine the #2 LSU Tigers by a score of 8-7.
"You play a lot of one-run ball games, eventually something may even out," Jones said. "When you're playing a team as talented as they are this year, you know they are always going to come back at you and fortunately tonight we were able to handle the ball."
Tulane jumped ahead early, after Tulane starting pitcher Aaron Loup (1-1) struck out the LSU side to open the contest. The Green Wave went right to work, with Josh Prince (3-5, two runs) opening the bottom of the first with a base hit up the middle. He quickly moved ahead on a wild pitch to Seth Henry, who followed with a walk. With runners at first and second, three-hitter Sam Honeck (2-4, four RBI) stepped into the box. Honeck worked the count in his favor before taking the 2-0 offering from Tigers' starter Chris Matulis to deep right field for a three-run bomb to get the Wave on the board. The long ball marked Honeck's eleventh home run of the year and 42nd RBI.
The Tigers answered right back with a pair of runs in the top of the second after Blake Dean led off the LSU half with a base hit to center field. Micah Gibbs flew out to right for the first out of the inning while Ryan Schimpf received a free pass after being hit by a Loup pitch. Mikie Mahtook grounded out to short but Tyler Hanover had the big two-out knock for LSU with a base hit through the left side, plating both Dean and Schimpf and bringing LSU within one, 3-2. Hanover was on the move but Jeremy Schaffer got Tulane back in the dugout when he threw out Hanover to log the third out of the inning along with his eleventh runner caught stealing of the season.
Both teams put up solid defensive and pitching performances through the fourth but the Green Wave looked to a big fifth-inning offensive showing to break open the ball game. Henry led off the frame after wearing a pitch and Honeck doubled to right field, scoring Henry on the play. Schaffer singled to left-center, scoring Honeck, and ending the night for pitcher Nolan Cain, who had entered the game in relief of Matulis to open the fourth. Daniel Bradshaw came in to throw for the Tigers and induced the fielder's choice off the bat of Karl Mundt. Steve Moritz drew the two-out walk and advanced to second on a Nick Boullosa base hit. With the bases loaded, Drew Allain (2-4, two RBI) hit a bullet up the middle, scoring Mundt and Moritz and putting the Wave up, 7-2.
The teams traded runs in the sixth with Prince scoring on a Schaffer sacrifice fly, putting the score at 8-3 through six complete. The Tigers put up a two-spot in their half of the seventh after Loup recorded the first two outs of the frame. After throwing 6.2 innings of work, striking out four and only issuing his second walk of the season, Loup was relieved by Preston Claiborne but Tulane still enjoyed an 8-5 advantage.
LSU made things exciting in the eighth when Sean Ochinko reached on an error after Claiborne had made quick work of Jared Mitchell for the first out of the inning. Ochinko moved up to third on a fly ball off the bat of DJ LeMahieu and scored on Dean's base hit to right field, bringing the Tigers within two, 8-6. Gibbs followed suit with another single to right, moving Dean to third. Jones went to his bullpen for Nick Pepitone, who came in with runners at the corners and two down in the top of the eighth. Pepitone gave up a single to Schimpf, plating Dean making it 8-7 but he quickly settled down and induced the fly ball to right out of Mahtook for the third out of the eighth.
The score remained 8-7 headed into the top of the ninth as Matt Ryan came in to play third base for the Wave. Pepitone went back to work, striking out Hanover for the first out. Leon Landry singled up the middle, followed by a walk to Mitchell. Pepitone got Ochinko to ground out to Prince at shortstop but the ball was hit too softly to turn the double play. With two outs and runners at second and third, Pepitone battled LeMahieu.
LeMahieu worked his count even at 2-2 after a foul ball trickled down the third base line. Ryan charged and made the savvy decision to let it go foul just shy of the third base bag, a move that potentially saved a run on what would have most assuredly been a tough play to make.
"That is one of the best instinctual plays you will ever see," Jones said of Ryan's play.
Pepitone challenged LeMahieu on the next pitch and sent him back to the LSU bench with the K in the books to hold on to the victory for Tulane.
"This was a huge win for us tonight," Honeck said. "After the disappointing weekend against Houston, we knew we had in it us to come out and compete against a solid LSU team but we just needed to show it. Things worked out in our favor tonight. We put some good swings on good pitches and came out on top, which is a great boost of momentum as we head to play a very talented Rice team this weekend."
The Green Wave, now 17-11 (1-2, C-USA) will head to Houston to take on Conference USA foe Rice in a three-game series that begins Friday night at 6:30PM at Reckling Park.