April 20, 2003
NEW ORLEANS, La. - Junior first baseman Michael Aubrey belted a walk-off three-run home run and the Green Wave defense turned four double plays as the Tulane University baseball team completed a sweep of Conference USA foe UAB in dramatic fashion with a 6-5 nail-biter Sunday afternoon at Turchin Stadium.
The Green Wave trailed 5-3 going into the bottom of the ninth and were down to their final out when senior centerfielder Jonny Kaplan drew a walk and junior shortstop Tony Giarratano hit an infield single before Aubrey stepped to the plate. Aubrey took the first two offerings from UAB reliever Kevin Brannon, the first for a ball and the next a called strike, but the preseason All-American got one he could drive on the next pitch and gave the hometown crowd a reason to erupt when he crushed the next toss over the wall in right central to complete Tulane's sixth series sweep of the season.
With the win, Tulane improves to 29-12 overall, including a 12-6 mark in C-USA action, and improves its home last winning streak to 19 games in the friendly confines of Turchin Stadium. UAB, meanwhile, falls to 21-17 on the year and 6-11 in league play.
Blazers first baseman Daniel Hill had a good outing for UAB, belting a pair of home runs with solo shots in the sixth and ninth innings, and the visitors out-hit the Green Wave 10-8. The Green Wave's 2-4 hitters were held in check for most of the game by the UAB hurlers as Giarratano, Aubrey and the combination of freshman right fielder Brian Bogusevic and sophomore left fielder Gerald Clark - who pinch hit for Bogusevic in the sixth when the Blazers brought in a southpaw - were a combined 1-for-10 with a single and a pair of walks going into the bottom of the ninth.
Hahn got out of the inning one batter later when leadoff hitter Mitch Jones grounded out to the catcher, but Drew Goneke singled to open the third and Hahn had to be removed from the game with a sprained right groin muscle. Freshman Brandon Gomes pitched admirably in his absence over the next three innings, getting a pair of 5-4-3 double-play balls and a strikeout, and the Green Wave offense tied the score in the fifth when senior designated hitter Aaron Feldman and sophomore third baseman Tommy Manzella led off the frame with back-to-back singles. Following a sacrifice bunt by freshman third baseman Tim Guidry, junior catcher Brian Bormaster hit an RBI-groundout to third to plate Feldman and Kaplan followed with a run-scoring single to even the game at 2-all.
Gomes was cruising along in the sixth, retiring the first two batters he faced on a pair of fly outs to right, but Hill lifted the next offering from the freshman over the wall in right center to give UAB a 3-2 lead.
Tulane had a chance to tie the game in the seventh when Manzella hit a leadoff double and Guidry drew a four-pitch walk, but Bormaster's sacrifice-bunt attempt failed and UAB reliever Griffin Zarbough retired the next two Tulane hitters to get out of the inning unscathed.
Things got worse for the Green Wave in the eighth when Sam Clark hit a leadoff single and scored on batter later when Guidry committed a three-base throwing error on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Jones to make it 4-2 in favor of the Blazers. One at-bat later, though, Aubrey gloved a pop up off the bat of Goneke near the fence in foul territory and nailed Jones at the plate as the UAB left fielder attempted to score from third on the play.
Tulane cut the lead to one in the home half of the frame when Aubrey drew a leadoff walk, advanced the bases on a single by Gerald Clark and a sacrifice bunt by rookie outfielder Nathan Southard, and scored on an RBI-groundout by Feldman.
UAB got the run back in the top of the ninth, though, when Hill belted his second homer of the day, but the Blazers squandered an opportunity to pad its lead later in the stanza when Connell and Womble hit back-to-back singles and Rodriquez advanced the pair to scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. One hitter later, Connell was thrown out at the plate by Guidry, who snared a hot shot off the bat of Seth Rollin, and Rollin was caught trying to advance to second on the play to conclude an unusual 5-2-6-3-4 double play.
The Blazers appeared well on their way to salvaging the final game of the series when Brannon got Guidry and pinch-hitter Turner Brumby to groundout to third and second, respectively, before Kaplan sparked a two-out rally to set up Aubrey's game-winning homer.
The Green Wave returns to action on Tuesday, April 22, when Tulane closes out a four-game home stand against in-state foe Nicholls State with a 6:30 p.m. start at Turchin Stadium. Following the showdown with the Colonels, the boys in Olive and Blue head to Missouri to battle C-USA opponent Saint Louis in a three-game series beginning on Friday, April 26.