April 12, 2009
Scott Powell talks about his clutch hit to secure the win for Tulane
ORLANDO- The talk of the Tulane baseball season has been the need for timely hits and the Green Wave proved they had it in them as the club's clutch-hitting performance not only put them back in the ballgame, but guided them to the 5-4 come-from-behind victory to win the Conference USA series against the Knights of UCF.
"Losing the first one Friday night and bouncing back to get the last two, that helps us," head coach Rick Jones said. "It's something we were in desperate need of. We need to win some series down the stretch if we're going to have any chance of post-season. We don't have any margin of error right now so it's real big."
Both teams peppered a handful of hits throughout the first four frames but neither team could get anyone across the plate until Seth Henry (2-3, RBI) took the 2-2 offering from Knights' starter Kyle Sweat over the left field wall on a line to get Tulane (19-16, 3-6 C-USA) on the board, 1-0, in the fifth.
The Knights answered back in their half of the sixth when Eric Kallstrom led off the inning with a base hit off of Tulane starter Conrad Flynn. UCF (12-24, 3-9 C-USA) brought leadoff hitter Colin Arnold to the dish and with Kallstrom on the move, Arnold hit a bullet down the first base line that Sam Honeck knocked down. Honeck stepped on first to get Arnold for the out while Kallstrom wound up at second. Kallstrom scored on a double down the right field line off the bat of Beau Taylor to tie the game at one. Shane Brown hit a ball up the middle that Josh Prince speared and Prince completed the 360-degree throw to get Brown out at first. During the play, Taylor rounded third, headed for home where he was declared safe, giving the Knights the 2-1 lead after six full.
The Knights called on designated hitter D.J. Hicks to throw for the team in relief of Sweat in the eighth, where he faced Scott Powell. Powell (2-5, two RBI) led off with a chopper to the 5.5 hole that was nabbed by shortstop Kallstrom, but with Powell's speed, he beat the throw for a hit. Honeck followed, taking the first pitch to right field, moving Powell to third. With one out, Jamie Bruno stepped in to face Sweat. Bruno chopped one back to Sweat, who checked Powell at third, forcing a bang-bang play at first, with Bruno almost beating out the throw. The play would end Hick's outing, with Justin Weiss entering the contest in relief to face Drew Allain. Allain (3-4, two RBI) worked the count even at 1-1 before going back up the box to plate both Powell and Honeck, giving the Green Wave the clutch hit and go ahead run, 3-2.
Flynn started the bottom of the inning for Tulane but a base hit to left off the bat of pinch hitter Chadd Hartman would end Flynn's outing after the sophomore threw seven strong innings while striking out five and issuing no bases on balls. Kallstrom stepped in to face Wave closer Nick Pepitone. Kallstrom sacrificed himself to get Hartman to second and with one out, the Knights reset their batting order with Arnold in the box. A wild pitch moved Hartman to third and Arnold worked the count to 3-1. Arnold seemingly fouled a ball off hit foot but the umpire crew made no call, only leaving Pepitone with the option of throwing Arnold out at first, while Hartman scored to knot the game at three. With two outs, Taylor poked a double down the right field line and the Knights had new life but Pepitone struck out Brown to end the inning with the game still tied.
Henry opened up the ninth with a base hit to left and the Wave used the small ball to get him to second when Matt Ryan got the sacrificed bunt down. Prince followed, working an 0-2 count before getting the bloop double to right, putting runners at second and third with one out for Powell. Powell came up huge for Tulane, hitting a chopper over the head of Kallstrom who was forced to play in, and Henry and Prince both came across the pay station, giving the Wave the 5-3 lead. That would do it for Weiss, as head coach Terry Rooney called on Cory Weech to face the Green Wave batters. Weech went right to work, getting the next two outs via strike outs to end the inning.
Pepitone (1-3) headed back out to the hill for Tulane to face Brandon Romans. Romans laced a double and moved to third on a cue shot to Henry, who threw to first to retire Kiko Vazquez. Pepitone struck out Hicks for the second out of the inning, bringing up Huxtable. Huxtable worked his count full before hitting a chopper to third that tipped off of Ryan's glove, scoring Romans and bringing the Knights within one, 5-4. Hartman stepped in and Pepitone quickly worked ahead to a 1-2 count. Pepitone got Hartman to ground out to Prince for the final out of the game and the Wave went on to win their first C-USA series with the 5-4 victory.
Tulane will head home to face Southeastern Louisiana on Tuesday, April 14 at 6PM at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.