April 24, 2013
BATON ROUGE, La. - Tulane's baseball squad dropped a close contest to the nationally ranked LSU Tigers, 4-3, after a three-run sixth inning by LSU at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La., on Wednesday night.
Heading into the sixth inning with a 2-1 lead, Tulane (20-21) redshirt sophomore Randy LeBlanc - who pitched masterfully to that point - walked LSU's (38-4) Mark Laird on four straight pitches before allowing a first-pitch single to Alex Bregman to put runners at first and second. With the count full to Mason Katz, LeBlanc (2-3) walked him to load the bases for Raph Rhymes. After 5.1 innings, LeBlanc was pulled in favor of Andrew Reeves for his second appearance of the season. The Baton Rouge native threw a wild pitch that scored Laird from third to tie the contest before allowing a single to Rhymes to clear the bags, giving LSU a 4-2 lead. After giving up a single to Ibarra that moved Rhymes to third, Reeves was replaced by Kyle McKenzie on the mound. McKenzie was able to get Moore to ground out into an inning-ending double play.
"Hindsight is always 20-20, but we felt like at that point in the game, Randy (LeBlanc) started to lose some of his command, and we were hoping to try and get someone in there to get the ball down," said Tulane baseball head coach Rick Jones. "Andrew (Reeves) has showed a great sinker that we've seen in intrasquads, and we thought that we might see that pitch to get us out of the inning, but it didn't work out."
The game started off as a true pitcher's duel, with LSU starter Kurt McCune retiring the first three Tulane batters in the top of the first before LeBlanc followed suit by inducing three straight fly outs.
After McCune retired the first two batters in the top of the second, junior Andrew Garner singled for the first offensive action of the contest for either team. However, junior Bowen Woodson hit a hard line drive that found its way right into the glove of second baseman Katz to end the top half of the frame. LeBlanc allowed a single to LSU's Raph Rhymes in the bottom of the second for the first Tiger hit of the contest, but he was also left stranded, as LeBlanc got two quick outs off the bats of Christian Ibarra and Tyler Moore.
LSU went to the bullpen in the top of the second, replacing McCune on the mound with Brett Bonvillain. McCune was on a pitch count due to an injury he sustained prior to the season. Bonvillain allowed a leadoff single to senior Tucker Oakley, who moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from freshman Cameron Burns. Freshman Richard Carthon grounded out to second base, moving Oakley to third. Unfortunately, Oakley stayed there as Bonvillain was able to strike out senior Brennan Middleton to get out of the inning.
LeBlanc continued to roll, using only a handful of pitches to record three straight outs in the top of the third. He got some help from Carthon to end the frame, when the left fielder made a catch in foul territory on the bullpen mound, holding onto the ball as he tripped on the rubber. LeBlanc did it again in the top of the fourth, as he retired three straight in the bottom of the fourth.
Will LaMarche replaced Bonvillain on the mound in the top of the fifth, and after getting two quick outs, he walked freshman Cameron Burns and Carthon. Burns fouled off pitch after pitch, including one that struck LSU coach Paul Mainieri in the LSU dugout. However, both stayed on base to end the inning.
LeBlanc got into his first bit of trouble by allowing back-to-back singles to Rhymes and Christian Ibarra in the bottom of the fifth. After retiring Tyler Moore, LSU's Ross hit a grounder to shortstop to score Rhymes from third. Despite Ibarra reaching third on a passed ball, LeBlanc was able to get out of the inning with no further damage.
Hunter Devall started the top of the sixth on the mound, and he hit senior Brandon Boudreaux before walking senior Garrett Cannizaro to put two Greenie runners on first and second. Devall was quickly yanked for Kevin Berry. Senior Sean Potkay bunted both runners over on Berry (3-0) before junior Andrew Garner laced a two-run double to left field to score Boudreaux and Cannizaro to take the lead, 2-1.
After retiring leadoff hitter Sean McMullen in the bottom of the sixth, LeBlanc walked LSU's Mark Laird on four straight pitches before allowing a first-pitch single to Alex Bregman to put runners at first and second. With the count full to Katz, LeBlanc walked him to load the bases for Rhymes. At that point in time, Andrew Reeves replaced LeBlanc on the mound for his second appearance of the season. The Baton Rouge native threw a wild pitch that scored Laird from third before allowing a single to Rhymes to clear the bags, giving LSU a 4-2 lead. After giving up a single to Ibarra that moved Rhymes to third, Reeves was replaced by Kyle McKenzie on the mound. McKenzie was able to get Moore to ground out into an inning-ending double play.
In the bottom of the seventh, McKenzie retired the first two batters with relative ease before being replaced on the mound by Oakley, who allowed a two-out single to McMullen. However, McMullen was thrown out at second by Burns on a steal attempt.
Former Greenie Nate Fury stepped to the mound for LSU in the top of the eighth, and he immediately gave up back-to-back singles to Boudreaux and Cannizaro. Fury struck out Potkay before being replaced by Nick Rumbelow, who struck out Garner for the second out of the inning. Woodson laced a single into center field to score Boudreaux from second base to cut LSU's lead to just one run before LSU got out of the inning.
The heart of LSU's order came up in the bottom of the eighth, and Oakley served up a one-out walk to Bregman before freshman closer Ian Gibaut came to the mound. Bregman stole second base with Katz at the dish, but Gibaut struck Katz out and Rhymes.
Joey Bourgeois stepped to the mound in the top of the ninth for LSU, and Tulane countered that change by sending junior Nick DiMaggio to the dish as a pinch hitter for Burns. DiMaggio grounded out to shortstop before bringing in Chris Cotton, a high school teammate of Carthon, who was at the plate. Carthon grounded out to shortstop for the second out of the inning. Cotton then got Middleton to ground out to second base to end the contest, earning his ninth save in the process.
All in all, LSU used nine pitchers in the contest, striking out ten Green Wave batters. Berry was credited with the win for his 2.0 innings of work in which he struck out two and allowed only one hit.
"They just had too many bullets in the bullpen," added Jones.
LeBlanc totaled 5.1 innings, allowing four hits, four earned runs while striking out one. Garner was the only Tulane hitter to notch a multi-hit game, as he went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Cannizaro got a hit, but his streak of multi-hit games came to a halt. He had collected four straight prior to tonight's contest.
The Green Wave will head to Charleston, W.V., tomorrow to take on the Marshall Thundering Herd for a three-game conference series this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The first two games of the series will begin at 6:05pm CT, while Sunday's contest will begin at 9am CT. Fans can listen to the Friday and Saturday tilts on 88.3 FM while the final game of the series will be broadcast on 106.1 The Ticket. Live stats will be made available through TulaneGreenWave.com.
Fans can follow the Tulane baseball program on Twitter (@GreenWaveBSB) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GreenWaveBaseball.