April 10, 2011
ORLANDO, Fla. - An early Green Wave lead was erased by UCF on Sunday afternoon, as the Tulane baseball team dropped an 8-7 ballgame in the series finale at Jay Bergman Field. Tulane rushed out to a 7-0 lead entering the bottom of the sixth, but the Knights fought back to grab the final game of the three-game series, which was won by the Olive and Blue.
"We won the series, but when you are up seven (runs) late in the game you certainly want that sweep," said Tulane head coach Rick Jones. "Our lack of depth in pitching really reared its head for us today, because we had to run a couple of guys out there late who were not as rested as we would want them to be. We get the double play ball in the ninth to Brennan and we get the bad hop, but if you look at the last two days we know something else could have happened and that's just baseball. I felt like we had a chance to blow it open in the sixth with the bases loaded and we just couldn't get it done."
After winning the first two games in close fashion, the Green Wave (20-12, 3-6 C-USA) looked to blow the Sunday finale wide open as they plated four runs in the first inning against UCF (21-11, 3-6 C-USA) starting pitcher Ray Hanson. The first four batters of the game reached base for the Olive and Blue and Jeremy Schaffer delivered his third home run of the weekend - fourth of the season - to give the visitors an early lead. After a Blake Crohan double, a pair of ground outs moved the sophomore up with Bowen Woodson's grounder to third base plating the fourth run.
Alex Byo gave Tulane an amazing start after missing nearly a month with tightness in his shoulder, as the sophomore tossed four scoreless innings and allowed just two hits. Byo didn't allow any runs and struck out three with no walks before handing it over the bullpen.
Trailing 7-0, UCF scored their first run of the contest in the sixth inning on a double play ball from Darnell Sweeney with runner no outs and runners on first and third. Jonathan Griffin hit his third home run of the weekend in the seventh inning to cut the deficit to 7-2 and a two-run home run from D.J. Hicks in the eighth inning made it a 7-4 game.
Joe Rogers (1-1) came on in the eighth with one out and a runner on first and got a fly ball and ground ball out to keep the Knights within three runs.
In the ninth, Alex Facundus (6-2) came on in relief and walked the first two batters he faced. A base hit from Derek Luciano scored the first run of the inning and Travis Shreve followed with an RBI single of his own to make it a 7-6 ballgame. Facundus struck out Sweeney on a fouled off bunt attempt on a third strike and then walked Ronnie Richardson to load the bases with one out. Hicks delivered again with a single to right field, allowing pinch runner Kevin Vasquez and Shreve to score and give the Knights an 8-7 win.
Tulane won the first two games in close fashion and will own the tie breaker with UCF, should that come into play for the postseason tournament.
In the contest, Crohan and Brennan Middleton each posted a pair of hits, while Schaffer led the team with three RBI's. Eight of the nine Tulane starters collected hits in the game and five different players collected RBI's. Boullosa was on base three times in the contest - via hit, walk and hit-by-pitch - and stole three bases on the afternoon.
The Green Wave will entertain South Alabama on Wednesday, April 13 at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium starting at 6:30. Prior to first pitch, the Tulane athletics department will honor head coach Rick Jones, who collected his 1,000th career head coaching victory on Friday evening at UCF, with a pregame ceremony. Arrive early to the ballpark to help Tulane congratulate coach Jones on reaching this milestone.