April 25, 2007
METAIRIE, La. - The top six hitters in the Green Wave lineup combined to go 11-for-23 at the plate and the Green Wave used a nine-run fifth inning to erase a 5-0 deficit as the Tulane University baseball team defeated Nicholls State, 11-5, Wednesday evening at Zephyr Field.
Trailing 5-0 after four and a half innings, the team held a players-only meeting in the dugout and came out with a purpose as the Green Wave pounded out seven of their 13 hits in the stanza to snap a three-game losing streak. With the victory, Tulane improves to 29-14 on the year. Nicholls State, meanwhile, falls to 5-27.
"I saw a different look in the eyes of our guys after the top of the fifth when they scored the runs to go up 5-0," Tulane head coach Rick Jones said. "I thought we responded well. We played well defensively and we pitched well. We've had so many tough-luck innings, it almost felt like we were due. But at the same time, we had to make it happen."
Sophomore Brad Emaus, who returned to second base after making a shift to first due to an ankle injury, went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles, three runs scored and an RBI. Junior shortstop Cat Everett, sophomore designated hitter Warren McFadden, senior first baseman Tim Guidry and sophomore right fielder Aja Barto all posted a pair of hits, and McFadden led all players with two RBI.
Guidry and sophomore catcher Jared Dyer drew consecutive walks to load the bases, and Tulane caught a big break on a potential double-play ball off the bat of sophomore centerfielder Nate Simon. With the sacks full, Simon hit a chopper that NSU first baseman Patrick Thompson snared before firing a bullet to the plate in an attempt to cut down McFadden. Colonel catcher T.J. Manerey, however, had the ball roll out of his mitt to tie the game and the hits kept coming.
Barto posted his second hit of the stanza to drive in Guidry for the go-ahead run, and Dyer scored on the play as NSU left fielder Shane Barksdale bobbled the ball on the play. With two away, Everett laced an RBI-single up the middle, and the Green Wave pulled of pick play as Everett drew a throw on a bluff steal attempt which allowed Barto to score and cap the nine-run inning.
The fifth inning provided all the runs Tulane would need, but the Green Wave added some insurance down the stretch. Emaus scored on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Dyer in the sixth, and touch the paystation again in the eight on an RBI-single to shallow center by Guidry to account for the final score.
Tulane got off to a rough start as Colonel shortstop Keith Kulbeth opened the game with a leadoff triple and scored one pitch later on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Thompson to stake Nicholls State to an early 1-0 advantage.
Following three scoreless frames, Nicholls appeared to blow the game open with a four-run fifth. Thompson hit a one-out single to make it 2-0, and with the bases loaded, right fielder Anthony Marino hammered a three-run double to the gap in left center to give the Colonels a 5-0 lead.
NSU starter Justin Breaux (1-5) allowed just three walks and an infield single during his first four innings of work, but only got one out in the fifth and left the game after allowing six runs (five earned) on six hits and four walks while striking out three.
Tulane starter Matt Goebel (8-1) earned the win for the Green Wave after giving up five runs on eight hits and no walks while posting a career-best nine strikeouts. After allowing the run in the first, Goebel faced just two more then the minimum over the next four innings before giving up a four-spot in the fifth.
He came back to strike out a pair in a one-hit, scoreless sixth and the bullpen took it from there. Rookie right-hander Taylor Rogers came on to throw a perfect seventh, fellow freshman righty Preston Claiborne pitched his way around a two-out double in the eighth, and senior closer Daniel Latham put the exclamation point on the victory by striking out all three batters he faced in the ninth.
"We came out and the first four and a half innings were a pretty good ballgame," Nicholls State head coach Chip Durham said. "We were up 5-0 and they started getting their hits and scoring their runs. We had a chance to get out of the inning with the ball back when we made the error...After that, they stayed pretty consistent, they played pretty good defense on us and we never could get it back going again. We played hard, we came out ready to play, but we made a couple of mistakes here and there. They took over and we never could get back in command."
The Green Wave return to action on Friday, April 27, when Tulane opens a three-game Conference USA slate at 5:30 p.m. (CDT) at UCF. The two teams will play again on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. before closing out the series on Sunday with first pitch slated for 10 a.m.