Redshirt junior Randy LeBlanc pitched a career-high 8.0 innings and tied a career-high eight strikeouts in the second game of Tulane's doubleheader with UTSA on Friday
April 4, 2014
NEW ORLEANS - The day did not necessarily start out as planned, as the first game of a doubleheader between the Tulane baseball squad and Conference USA rival UTSA went in favor of the Roadrunners, 8-1, but behind a career-best performance by redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Randy LeBlanc, the Green Wave were able to right the ship in the night cap with a 4-1 victory, snapping a four-game skid at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium on Friday.
Tulane (14-15, 6-7) struggled at the dish in the first game of the twin bill that started 45 minutes after the scheduled first pitch because of rain, as the Green Wave tallied just six hits - all singles - off UTSA (20-11, 7-4) starter Brock Hartson, who pitched a complete-game one-run contest while fanning seven and walking just two. But LeBlanc (3-2) put the team on his back in game two, tying a career-high in strikeouts with eight across a career-best 8.0 innings while walking no batters.
The offense came alive in the second game, too, as senior outfielder Andrew Garner blasted Tulane's first home run by a Green Wave player at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium this season in the third inning after freshman designated hitter Hunter Williams posted a three-run double in the bottom of the first to give Tulane all the runs they needed to break even on the day.
"That was a big lift for us there, that second game," said Tulane assistant coach Jake Gautreau. "We came out with a little bit different of a mentality (in game two), but Randy LeBlanc's effort was unreal. He set the tone for us in game two. I thought we had really good at-bats early in the game that gave us that three run cushion and allowed Randy to go out there and do what he can do. Our idea going into game two was to be really aggressive as an offense. I thought we did a really good job with the lefty, and Hunter Williams came up and had a huge two-out, two-strike double to put us up 3-0. We got a big lift off that. Andrew Garner, obviously he swung the bat really well for us during the beginning of the year. He's a guy that can drive the ball, and he went up there and put a really good swing on a ball that made it 4-0."
After Williams' three-run hit in the first and Garner's blast in the third, LeBlanc was able to coast for a while, allowing just one hit until the seventh inning. In that frame, the Abita Springs, La., native hit a bump, as he allowed three hits. However, UTSA's Mike Warren was picked off at first on a solid move by LeBlanc, and neither of the other two batter moved past third as LeBlanc was able to induce a ground-ball out to junior first baseman Garrett Deschamp to end the inning.
With Tulane up 4-0 to start the top of the ninth, LeBlanc was pulled in favor of redshirt senior Kyle McKenzie, who was making his first mound appearance since picking up the win against LSU nearly two weeks ago. McKenzie loaded the bases on two singles and a walk. The Boston native was able to get UTSA's Tony Ramirez to ground out to shortstop, but that allowed Jesse Baker to score for the Roadrunners to break up Tulane's shutout. McKenzie then walked John Bormann to load the bases once again before freshman J.P. France came to the mound, getting a double-play ball off the bat of pinch-hitter Grant Gibbs to give Tulane the 4-1 victory.
France earned his first career save in the victory after pitching just 0.2 innings. UTSA's Nolan Trabanino was run from the mound early on in the contest, as he went just 1.1 innings. Trabanino (5-1) was credited with his first loss of the season in 1.1 innings after allowing three runs on two hits and two walks.
Game one was a different story for the Green Wave, despite playing close early in the contest. UTSA scored a run in the first and second innings off redshirt senior Tyler Mapes. Tulane battled back in the bottom of the second as freshman outfielder Lex Kaplan reached on an error, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI-single off the bat of freshman catcher Jake Rogers. Unfortunately, Rogers made all his way to third, but was left stranded to end the inning.
UTSA scored again in the fifth and sixth innings. Bormann doubled to left center off Mapes (4-1) to leadoff the fifth before moving to third on a groundout and scoring on a sacrifice squeeze that went down for a hit by Logan Kinder. In the sixth, R.J. Perucki doubled, and came home on another double by Ramirez.
UTSA turned it on in the seventh, as the Roadrunners scored three times on two hits, and they were aided in part by two errors by the Tulane infield. Tulane sent in sophomore pitchers Emerson Gibbs and Jordan Gross - who made his season debut - after Mapes left the game with 6.2 innings of work to his name. Gibbs struck out one in 1.1 innings. Gross allowed a hit and an earned run in 1.0 inning.
Mapes was credited with the loss after walking four and allowing 10 hits. He also struck out four batters.
Fortunately for the Green Wave, they were able to regroup and come out to pick up the win after the early loss.
"The pregame talk before game two was that the effort, intensity, and energy overall was unacceptable, and this is what we're about, and this what are going to go out and make sure we do," added Gautreau. "So we went out, and I thought we did a really good with energy and execution in game two."
In game one, six Tulane batters - sophomore outfielder Richard Carthon, freshman second baseman Jake Willsey, Deschamp, Garner, Kaplan and Rogers - all collected hits. Garner was the only player with a multi-hit game on the day, as he went 2-for-4 in game two. Willsey, Hope, Rogers and Williams added hits in the second game.
Garner's home run was the fourth of the season and the eighth of his career.
Hartson (2-1) got the win in game one for UTSA.
The two teams will return to Greer Field at Turchin Stadium for the rubber match of the series on Saturday morning for a scheduled 10am CT first pitch, as agreed upon by the two programs in the hopes of beating out potential weather that is set to hit the Greater New Orleans area on Saturday afternoon and evening. Tulane redshirt sophomore Alex Massey will get the start on the mound, and he will be opposed by righty Justin Anderson.
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