Freshman righty Corey Merrill pitched a career-high 7.1 innings, while fanning four in a loss to Charlotte on Friday
April 17, 2014
CHARLOTTE - Tulane freshman right-handed pitcher Corey Merrill pitched the best game of his young career, but it was not enough for the Green Wave, as they fell to Charlotte, 2-0, on a pair of sacrifice flies at Hayes Stadium on Thursday evening.
Merrill (0-3) was credited with the loss, despite throwing a career-high 7.1 innings while tying a career high in strikeouts with four in a limited number of pitches. He allowed seven hits and two runs, both coming on sacrifice flies, while otherwise dazzling with an array of pitches that allowed Tulane to flip the inning quickly. The product from Lutcher kept the Green Wave in the game throughout the contest, but the Tulane (15-21, 6-12) offense only mustered three hits in nine innings, while Charlotte's (10-24-1, 3-13) starting pitcher, Corey Roberts, threw a complete-game shutout.
"We got what we were looking for from Corey tonight," said Tulane baseball interim head coach Jake Gautreau. "We started him tonight hoping for an effort like that to give us a chance to win. He pounded the strike zone and gave us a great effort. Unfortunately, we could not do enough offensively. We hit some balls in some big spots a couple of times, but when you look up and see only three hits on the board, that's going to make it tough to score some runs and win a ball game."
Merrill's 7.1 inning performance was the longest appearance by a freshman pitcher on the season for the Green Wave, surpassing fellow freshman J.P. France's stellar outing in 7.0 innings on opening day against Arkansas-Pine Bluff back on Feb. 14.
With the game scoreless in the bottom of the seventh, Charlotte's Des Roberts doubled past a diving Garrett Deschamp at first base to lead off the inning. The 49ers' Corbin Shive bunted Roberts over to third base, and Jordan Hudson brought him home on a sacrifice fly to deep left center, notching just his second RBI of the season, and giving the 49ers the first lead of the contest.
Charlotte tacked on an insurance run during the next inning to double their lead. Merrill was relieved by sophomore Tim Yandel in the bottom of the eighth after allowing a single to Derek Gallello and a bloop double to Brett Lang that landed right on the right field line to put two runners in scoring position. Charlotte's T.J. Nichting sent a shot into shallow right field that was caught by a charging Andrew Garner, but Gallello was able to tag up from third for the 49ers second run.
The Green Wave had a few opportunities to do some damage early in the contest, but could not push any runs across home plate. Sophomore outfielder Richard Carthon led off the game with a walk, and he reached second on a sacrifice bunt from freshman catcher Jake Rogers. However, Carthon was left stranded.
Freshman outfielder Lex Kaplan, who had a solid day at the plate collecting two of the Green Wave's three hits on the day, walked in the second and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from freshman shortstop Stephen Alemais. But he too was left on second base when it was all said and done.
Tulane's best chance to get things done was in the top of the fourth. With two outs, freshman third baseman Hunter Hope walked before Kaplan singled him to second base. Alemais was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but all three runners stayed on base as Roberts was able to get a fly out to right center to end the frame.
In the bottom half of the fourth, Sherer doubled into left field with two outs off Merrill, but Deschamp made a run-saving play by diving to his right to stop a sharp grounder off the bat of Roberts for the third out.
Merrill got in a bit of trouble in the bottom of the sixth, after allowing a leadoff single to Derek Gallello and walking Brett Lang to put two on with no outs. However, T.J. Nichting popped up at second base for the first out, and Merrill got a big double play ball off the bat of Sherer, killing the 49ers biggest chance to that point of putting a run on the board.
Garner collected the only other hit on the day for the Green Wave. Deschamp walked twice in the contest, joining Kaplan as the only Tulane hitter to reach base on two different occasions in the contest.
Roberts (1-3) earned his first win of the season while striking out seven and walking five. Yandel pitched the final 0.2 innings of the game for the Green Wave, allowing no hits, while recording no strikeouts or walks.
The two teams will return to Phillips Field at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium on Friday for a 2pm CT first pitch. Live stats for the game can be followed by clicking on the `live stats' link on the TulaneGreenWave.com baseball schedule page. Tulane will send redshirt junior Randy LeBlanc to the mound to face the 49ers. Charlotte will counter with right-handed pitcher Ryan Butler.
"We are going to come back out here on Friday and give it everything we have," added Gautreau. "With Randy on the mound, you have to like the way things look for tomorrow."
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