April 22, 2011
NEW ORLEANS - The last time that Tulane and Utah met was the long ball era, but on Saturday evening inside Greer Field at Turchin Stadium it was small ball that led the Tulane baseball team to a 7-6 victory. The Green Wave capitalized on two Utes errors and put down three sacrifice bunts to stake themselves to the lead and Nick Pepitone closed out his tenth save of the season to nail down the victory for the Olive and Blue.
"Our lack of pitching depth just showed itself (tonight)," said Tulane head coach Rick Jones. "It's a feeling that you don't feel good about because you know you don't have the depth down there, and you're wearing the guys out that you do have...Andrew Garner did a good job, but he's been used a lot lately and this is a guy that hadn't been used nearly as much and so this is new territory for him. We made three errors, which was tough, but the difference tonight was that we had Nick Pepitone. Nick was able to get the leadoff out, then their best hitter, who is one of the best hitters in the country, put a good swing on it with two strikes. Then after an intentional walk, (Pepitone) made the pitch he needed to make. Nick Pepitone was the big difference."
Tulane grabbed an early lead with a run in the first and two runs in the second inning versus Utah (17-15) starting pitcher Joe Pond. In the first, Blake Crohan doubled with one out and Jeremy Schaffer followed with a walk. Frank Florio stepped in and singled up the middle to score Crohan from second and make it 1-0 in favor of the Green Wave.
Utah got on the board versus Tulane (23-16) starting pitcher Drew Zizinia with a single run in the fifth inning and an unearned run in the sixth. Leadoff singles started both innings, with Austin Shackelford getting things started in the fifth and, a batter later, Trey Nielsen walked to put two on with one out. A double steal moved the runners up a batter and Jo Jo Sharrar grounded out to second base the score the first run of the game for the Utes. C.J. Cron singled in a run in the sixth, but Utah benefitted from a Green Wave error in the frame.
Tulane scored a pair of unearned runs of their own in the bottom of the fifth when Crohan and Schaffer each singled with one out in the frame. A Florio single loaded the bases and Brandon Boudreaux hit a bouncing ball up the middle that was fielded by the Utah second baseman. After he stepped on second base for the second out of the inning, as Crohan scored, then his throw was wide of the mark at first and Schaffer came across to give Tulane five runs in the game.
Zizinia left in the sixth after retiring the first two batters and D.J. Ponder came on in relief. Ponder walked a batter, but got out of a bases loaded jam. Zizinia tossed five and two-thirds innings, allowing two runs - one earned - on four hits. Utah managed only singles off of the right-hander, who walked one and struck out six batters in the no decision.
The Utes took the lead in the seventh inning with four runs - just two earned - against Ponder, who was replaced by Andrew Garner with two runners on base and no one out. Michael Beltran ended the outing for Ponder with a two-RBI double to right center field and a pair of RBI ground outs pushed the visitors ahead, 6-5.
Pond threw six innings and allowed five runs - three earned - on seven hits with four walks and seven strikeouts. Kesley Kondo threw one and one-thirds innings and allowed the final two runs of the game, including an unearned run in the eighth.
In the seventh, Matt Ryan started the inning with a leadoff walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Blake Crohan. After Kondo got Schaffer to fly out foul to the first baseman, Florio doubled to center field to tie the game up at 6-6.
In the eighth, Bowen Woodson was hit by a pitch to start the inning and Garrett Cannizaro moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt. Middleton walked to set up the double play, but Nick Boullosa hit a sharp ground ball to first base, which Cron misplayed and Woodson scored from second to give the Green Wave the lead.
In the ninth, Pepitone struck out the first batter of the inning before a single, double and intentional walk loaded the bases. The senior sinker-baller then induced a ground ball to shortstop and Cannizaro flipped to Middleton who made the throw to Ryan at first base to complete the double play and seal the victory for Tulane.
It was the tenth save of the season for Pepitone, who returned after missing nine games due to injury, as he fanned one and walked one in an inning of work. Garner got the win to improve to 2-1 on the season, while Zizinia pitched well in his third straight start.
Florio led all players with three hits and drove in two RBI's in the contest, while Crohan scored twice and grabbed his 11th multi-hit game of the season. The Green Wave were out-hit 9-8 in the game, but posted their ninth win when being out-hit on the season.
The Green Wave and the Utes will close out their series with the rubber game on Saturday, April 23 with an 11:00 a.m. first pitch.