April 5, 2013
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Tulane baseball notched 11 hits at the plate, and solid pitching performances from sophomore Tony Rizzotti and freshman Ian Gibaut gave the Green Wave a 3-2 victory over Southern Miss at Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg, Miss., on Friday night.
Seniors Brennan Middleton and Blake Crohan and junior Bowen Woodson all went 2-for-4 at the plate, and five other Tulane (16-16, 4-3) hitters collected a hit, while the aforementioned pitchers stymied Southern Miss (11-17, 3-4) hitters all evening, allowing just four base knocks.
"It was our best offensive approach in a long time," said Tulane baseball head coach Rick Jones. "It was kind of frustrating that we only got three runs to show for it. But when you have Tony Rizzotti and Ian Gibaut on the mound, you have pitching that we have banked on all year."
With the 3-2 lead at the beginning of the bottom of the eighth, Gibaut replaced Rizzotti (5-3) on the mound, and he walked Southern Miss' Isaac Rodriguez to open the frame. Golden Eagles' Mason Robbins stepped up to the plate and hit a ball towards second base that could have become a double play, but Gibaut tipped the ball with his glove, allowing both runners to be safe. However, when Southern Miss sent Michael Sterling in to pinch hit, he bunted into a double play that put Rodriguez out at third and Sterling out at first. Despite the protests from Sterling and Southern Miss coach Scott Berry that the ball hit Sterling's hand on his bunt attempt, the umpire crew ruled that the ball hit bat putting the ball in play. Chase Fowler then flew out to center field to end the inning.
"That was a very heads up play by Blake because he got the force out at third instead of tagging the batter, meaning we would have had to tag the runner coming into third," added Jones. "That would have changed the entire game."
Gibaut struck out Blake Brown and Travis Creel before getting Jared Bales to fly out to right field to end the contest.
The Greenies got their offense going early on the day, when they strung together three hits in the top of the first, capped off by an RBI single through the right side by senior Brandon Boudreaux. With two outs, senior Garrett Cannizaro notched the fourth hit of the inning by sending a shot through the left side, but the Golden Eagles' Breck Kline was able to throw Crohan out at the plate when he attempted to score from second base.
In the bottom half of the first, Rizzotti got into some early trouble when he walked Rodriguez who reached third on a single by Robbins with just one out on the board. Tim Lynch was able to bring Rodriguez home on a dribbler to shortstop that put Robbins out at second. Rizzotti was able to get out of the inning without any further damage.
During the very next inning, Rizzotti was able to strike out Southern Miss' Blake Brown, Travis Creel and Jared Bales. Rizzotti only struck out four Rice batters during his complete game loss last weekend in Houston to the Owls.
Crohan lead off the top of the third with a double into right field, followed on the base paths by Boudreaux. Senior Sean Potkay brought Crohan home from second base on a single that hopped just over the left shoulder of third baseman Brown. With the 2-0 lead, Southern Miss starter Jake Drehoff launched a wild pitch that advanced the base runners to second and third before senior Garrett Cannizaro brought Boudreaux home on a sacrifice fly that put Tulane up 3-1.
In the bottom of the third, a two out single to left field scored Connor Barron from second when freshman Richard Carthon couldn't come up with the ball to make a throw to the plate. Barron had reached earlier on a hit in front of Rizzotti that bounced right over his head. After the RBI-single that made the game 3-2, Southern Miss loaded the bags before Rizzotti struck out Brown to end the threat.
Junior Bowen Woodson notched his second hit of the game in the top of the fourth and moved to third after Carthon walked and Middleton hit a bloop single to right field. Drehoff (1-4) was pulled after pitching 3.1 innings, allowing nine hits and three walks. Jay Myrick stepped to the mound with the bases full of Greenies, but Crohan grounded into a double play on a 3-1 count, allowing Southern Miss to flip the inning.
In the fifth inning, Rizzotti walked the leadoff batter in Barron, and he moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Rodriguez. Rizzotti, however, was able to get Robbins to fly out to Carthon in left before Lynch hit a pop up in the infield that Crohan caught over his shoulder up the third base line.
Junior Andrew Garner led off the top of the sixth with a shot to the left center wall that put him on second base. However, Myrick was able to get two straight outs before Carthon sent a shot to left field. Unfortunately, Kline made a diving catch towards the wall that left Garner at second base.
Rizzotti continued to deal, retiring six straight through the fifth and sixth innings after walking Barron to lead off the fifth. The final out of the sixth was a fly ball by Creel that took Carthon all the way to the left field warning track.
Middleton lead off the seventh with a single up the middle, and Crohan moved him over to second on a sacrifice bunt. Boudreaux flied out to the warning track in center field to move Middleton to third, where he would stay after Potkay popped up to third base.
Rizzotti continued his outstanding night, when he retired Bales, Kline and Barron in order in the bottom of the seventh. He only needed five pitches to do so, as Bales grounded out on a first pitch swing to third base, Kline lined out to second base on a 1-1 count and Barron tapped the first pitch he saw back to the mound. Rizzotti was replaced by Gibaut during the next game, and the freshman earned his seventh save of the season.
Rizzotti went 7.0 innings, striking out five and allowing only three hits. Gibaut pitched the final 2.0 innings, striking out two and allowing the final hit of the game for the Golden Eagles.
Tomorrow's 2pm CT start will feature a pitching matchup between Tulane's Alex Byo and Southern Miss' Andrew Pierce. The game will be broadcast on 106.1 FM The Ticket and live stats will be available through TulaneGreenWave.com. The series finale will be at 1pm CT on Sunday, and will move back to 88.3 FM on the radio dial.
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