April 9, 2013
LAFAYETTE, La. - Redshirt sophomore Randy LeBlanc pitched 6.0 outstanding innings, striking out four, while freshman Tim Yandel and Richard Carthon had big days at the plate in Tulane's 7-5 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field in Lafayette, La., on Tuesday night.
Carthon went 2-for-5 at the plate with a run and an RBI, and Yandel notched a pinch hit RBI single in the top of the eighth to extend Tulane's (17-18) lead to two runs after ULL (22-10) added two runs in the bottom of the seventh to cut the Green Wave lead to one.
"This was a much needed road victory in a very tough place to win," said Tulane baseball head coach Rick Jones.
Carthon - leading off for the sixth straight game - knocked a double to the left field wall, and senior Brennan Middleton notched a single through the left side off ULL starter Chase Traffica with no outs to get the offense started in the top of the first. With runners on the corners, Traffica (3-2) plunked senior Blake Crohan to load the bases. A passed ball on Ragin' Cajun catcher Michael Strentz scored Carthon from third before Traffica walked senior Brandon Boudreaux to load the bases. A two-RBI single up the middle from senior Sean Potkay was all ULL coach Tony Robichaux needed to see, pulling Traffica in favor of left hander Kody Smith.
Smith immediately gave up a bloop single to junior Andrew Garner to load the bases yet again, but senior Garrett Cannizaro grounded into a double play for the first two outs of the inning, scoring Boudreaux from third. Potkay advanced to third and came home when junior Bowen Woodson reached on an error, giving Tulane a 5-0 lead.
It was only the second time this season Tulane has scored five runs in a frame with the other coming during the first game of the Texas-San Antonio series, an 8-3 win in favor of the Green Wave.
LeBlanc (1-2) started the game off on a strong note, as he was able to get the leadoff hitter, Dex Kjerstad, to ground out to second base. However, LeBlanc walked Seth Harrison and allowed a double to Ryan Leonards during the next two at-bats before Tyler Girouard cut into Tulane's lead with a three-run home run to right field. LeBlanc was able to get the next two batters out to end a very wild first inning.
"For them to answer with three runs after our big first, Randy could have folded right there, but what we saw tonight is the Randy LeBlanc that we signed four years ago," said Jones.
In the bottom of the second, LeBlanc was able to record two straight outs before walking Blake Trahan and allowing a single up the middle to Kjerstad. Fortunately, Woodson was able to scoop up a grounder from Harrison and flip it to Middleton to force Kjerstad out at second for the final out of the inning.
Both pitchers settled down in the third inning. Smith was able to retire the Greenies in order, and with one out in the bottom of the frame, LeBlanc induced an inning-ending double play to Strentz.
However, in the top of the fourth, Cannizaro worked Smith's arm in an 11 pitch at-bat, eventually walking. He was followed on the base paths by Woodson who was hit on the back of the foot with no outs. Unfortunately, freshman Hunter Lapeyre bunted into a double play while attempting to move both runners up a base. A charging Chase Compton from first snagged the bunt out of the air and was able to tag up Woodson at first. With two outs, though, Carthon laced a single into center field to score Cannizaro from second on a play at the plate, increasing Tulane's lead to three runs.
LeBlanc continued to roll, retiring the Ragin' Cajuns in order in the bottom of the fourth. In the top of the fifth, Smith hit Potkay with one out, and Garner sent a shot to right field, but it was caught on the warning track by the Ragin' Cajuns' Kjerstad.
ULL was 90 feet away from scoring in the bottom of the fifth, but Trahan was left stranded when LeBlanc struck out Leonards on a changeup to end the frame. Trahan walked to lead off the inning, stole second and advanced to third on a deep fly ball off the bat of Harrison.
LeBlanc seemed to get better as the night went along, as he struck out Girouard, got Strentz to fly out to center and Caleb Adams to ground out in order in the bottom of the sixth. However, with over 100 pitches to his name after walking Compton to lead off the bottom of the seventh, LeBlanc was replaced on the mound by star freshman Ian Gibaut.
Unfortunately, after getting one out, Gibaut gave up a two-run homer to Trahan, making the game 6-5. It was the first home run Gibaut had given up this year. Gibaut then walked Harrison, but was able to pick him off at first for the final out of the inning.
Garner led off the top of the eighth, tapping a ball back to the pitcher's mound. Smith picked it up, and instead of throwing Garner out at first, he threw a ball that soared over the head of the first baseman, allowing Garner to reach second. Cannizaro moved him to third on a line out to right field. The Ragin' Cajuns put Matt Hicks on the mound, and he was able to strike out Woodson on an outside pitch. The Green Wave sent Yandel up to the dish to pinch hit for Lapeyre, and he delivered an RBI single to left field to score Garner from third to reestablish Tulane's two-run lead.
"Timmy's base hit stretched the lead, and took the bunt away, which is huge for us because they would have been bunting in the ninth (to advance base runners)," added Jones. "That was a huge hit by Timmy."
In the bottom of the eighth, Gibaut walked Girouard with one out but Cannizaro threw him out at second on a fielder's choice by Strentz. On a 2-2 count to Adams, Strentz stole second to put himself into scoring position. Gibaut walked Adams, but then balked, putting Srentz on third and Adams on second. On a full count - arguably the biggest pitch of the game - Gibaut got Compton to pop up to Cannizaro at third base, ending ULL's chance to tie up the game in the eighth.
With three outs left to attempt to tie or win the game, ULL's Conrad hit a flare into left center to bring the tying run to the plate. Trahan flew out to the warning track in right field, but Kjerstad sent a hit into left field to move Conrad to second base. ULL sent Dylan Butler to the plate as a pinch hitter in place of Harrison. Butler hit a dinker to first base for the second out, but the swing put the tying run at second base. Leonards - after a very long at-bat full of foul balls - struck out to end the game. Gibaut earned his eighth save of the year for his efforts on the mound.
"That was a great at-bat on the part of Leonards," said Jones. "Ian just won the battle. You just have to tip your hat to Ian."
Tulane notched seven hits on the day - two from Carthon and one each from Middleton, Potkay, Garner, Woodson and Yandel.
Traffica was tagged with the loss, recording 0.0 innings and five runs - four of which were earned.
Cameron Burns replaced Crohan in the bottom of the first behind the plate due to Crohan being hit by a pitch in the top of the first. Crohan did not play at all in the field.
Tonight's game marked the first time the Green Wave have played a game at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field in Lafayette since 2003. Tulane was scheduled to play against the Ragin' Cajuns in Lafayette last year, but the game was cancelled due to inclement weather. The last win in Lafayette for the Greenies came on Feb. 13, 2001, when Tulane won 8-3.
Tulane will return home for their first weekend home game since March 24 when they host the Pirates of East Carolina this weekend on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday's 6:30pm CT game will be broadcast on 88.3 FM, as will Sunday's 11am CT tilt. The middle game of the series - to be played at 2pm CT on Saturday - will be broadcast on 106.1 The Ticket. Live stats will be available for all games on TulaneGreenWave.com.
Fans can follow the Tulane baseball program on Twitter (@GreenWaveBSB) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GreenWaveBaseball.