April 12, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - Tulane's baseball team played from behind during regulation to the East Carolina Pirates throughout Friday evening's contest until a two-run rally in the bottom of the ninth tied things up before the Green Wave succumbed to the Pirates by a score of 3-2 in the 13th inning at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.
Unable to get on the board through the first eight frames, Tulane (17-19, 4-6) senior Brennan Middleton singled up the middle off East Carolina (16-18, 2-5) starter Jeff Hoffman before fellow senior Brandon Boudreaux reached on a fielder's choice where first baseman Chase McDonald made a throwing error while attempting to throw Middleton out at second. With two runners on and no outs, senior Sean Potkay doubled down the right field line on an 0-and-2 pitch give the Greenies their first run of the game, and moving Boudreaux to third. Senior Garrett Cannizaro reached on an error by ECU's shortstop during the next at-bat, allowing Boudreaux to come home to tie the game at two runs each.
However, after playing an additional three straight scoreless innings of baseball, East Carolina's Ben Fultz doubled off Tulane relief pitcher Andrew Garner before back-to-back singles by Garrett Brooks and pinch hitter Nick Thompson loaded the bases for the Pirates. Bryan Bass brought Fultz home on a sacrifice fly to left field for the winning run.
ECU's Hoffman (2-1) pitched 9.2 innings, striking out six and allowing only three hits before Pirates relief pitcher Drew Reynolds - who started the game at designated hitter - came in for the final 3.1 innings, striking out six and keeping the Greenies off the base paths.
"When you go 13 innings and don't get the win, it's going to be a frustrating loss for you if there's even such a thing as a good loss," said Tulane baseball head coach Rick Jones. "This is really frustrating for us because we fought back in the ninth, but when you get three hits in 13 innings it's hard to score. I know we hit a lot of balls hard at them, but they also made some errors. At the end of the day we just didn't put enough pressure on them offensively, we didn't put the leadoff hitter on until the eighth, so when all those things happen for us like they did tonight, and it's really tough to do anything offensively."
Redshirt sophomore Tony Rizzotti started on the mound for the Greenies, and he was able to retire the first two batters of the game with relative ease before allowing a single up the middle by ECU's Drew Reynolds. However, freshman Richard Carthon made one of his patented sliding catches in left field on a fly ball by Jay Cannon ended the frame.
In the second inning, Rizzotti allowed a one-out triple to ECU's Zach Houchins that was just out of the reach of a diving Tim Yandel in right field. Houchins - who was 4-for-6 on the day - was brought home for the initial run of the game on a sacrifice fly by McDonald.
Rizzotti retired 13 in a row through the top of the sixth when Jack Reinheimer notched his lone hit of the evening through the left side. Catcher Cameron Burns threw him out on a steal attempt during the next at-bat.
The Pirates played some top notch defense throughout the contest to keep Tulane hitters from reaching base. In the bottom of the sixth, Middleton ripped a shot down the third base line that was batted down into foul territory by Houchins before he was able to scoop it up and throw it across the diamond to first for the out. During the next at-bat, senior Brandon Boudreaux sent a shot to deep center field, but Brooks dived towards the wall to make the catch, robbing Boudreaux of a sure extra base hit.
In the top of the eighth, Rizzotti dealt two straight walks to Bass and Reinheimer, putting another runner in scoring position. Reynolds hit a single that just got through the Tulane infield to load the bases. Fortunately during the next at-bat, Potkay made a miraculous catch on a foul ball down the right field line from Cannon - crashing into the wall in the process - to keep any more runs from crossing home plate.
With the score at 1-0 in favor of ECU, Rizzotti continued to deal as he got Dylan Brown to pop up to second base for the first out. However, Houchins added to his night with a solo home run during the next at-bat to put another run on the board for the Pirates. After Rizzotti struck out McDonald, he allowed a single to Brooks before Brady Wilson replaced him on the mound for the final out of the inning.
Rizzotti went 8.2 innings, walking two and striking out four. He allowed eight hits and two earned runs.
After Tulane's furious ninth inning rally, Garner (1-1) came on in relief of Wilson in the top of the tenth. After allowing a single up the middle to Reinheimer and a sacrifice bunt to Bass that moved Reinheimer to second, the Greenies decided to intentionally walk Reynolds to put runners on first and second. A wild pitch dealt by Garner put the runners at second and third after Garner got Cannon to fly out to center field. With the go-ahead run 90 feet away, Garner struck out Brown to end the frame.
Hoffman remained on the mound until there were two outs in the bottom of the tenth. He became only the 13th player in Conference USA history to pitch more than 9.0 innings in a contest. Reynolds came on in relief of him, and got Middleton to ground out to shortstop to end the tenth.
In the top of the 11th, Houchins singled to left field to lead things off. During the next at-bat, redshirt freshman Chad Vanaman - who replaced Cameron Burns behind the plate in the ninth - made a diving snag of a short foul ball off the bat of Fultz for the first out of the inning. Brooks singled to left field before Watkins reached on a fielder's choice to put Brooks out at second. With Houchins on third and Watkins on first, Garner walked Bass on a 3-and-2 count to load the bases. Once again, he was able to strike out the final batter of the inning - this time, Brown - with the bases juiced.
The Green Wave's luck ran out in the 13th when Garner got into some trouble, allowing three straight base hits before the sacrifice fly that brought home what would be the winning run of the game. In the bottom of the 13th, senior Tucker Oakley - pinch hitting for Vanaman - grounded out to third base before Carthon struck out swinging. On a 3-and-2 count, Middleton was rung up by home plate umpire Asa Howard on what looked to be ball four to end the game.
Middleton led the way for the Greenies at the plate, going 2-for-5 with one run.
Game two of the series will see senior Alex Byo pitch against righty David Lucroy and is set for a 2pm CT start. The game will be broadcast on 106.1 The Ticket. There is a possibility of a doubleheader being played on Saturday due to inclement weather on Sunday, but the call to play an additional game on Saturday will not be made until prior to the 2pm contest.
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