April 26, 2009
Drew Allain talks about hitting a walk-off home run
NEW ORLEANS- The battle for the series was just that--a battle that saw five lead changes, an inside-the-park home run and a walk-off bomb by senior Drew Allain that gave Tulane the series over the visiting Tigers of Memphis. The exciting 12-11, 12-inning game set a new record for length of contest at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium, coming in at three hours and forty-one minutes. Tulane improves to 26-18 overall and 7-8 in C-USA play.
"Today we get a ball here, a ball there that works for us," head coach Rick Jones said. "We won the series and played hard all three days. We had two real close ballgames, one in which we came up short in extra innings and today we won in extra innings."
The Memphis bats came out hot, putting up a four-spot in the first inning. Drew Martinez led off the ballgame with a bloop single to left field. A throwing error on the pickoff move advanced Martinez to second and he moved to third on a ground ball to the right side off the bat of Tyler Huelsing. Adam McClain knocked Martinez in for the first Memphis run. Green Wave starter Conrad Flynn got Shawn Ablett to pop up to Matt Ryan at third for the second out of the inning but Trey Wiedman reached on the single to left field. Brett Bowen stepped in and with one swing of the bat, gave his starting pitcher Brach Davis a four-run lead with the lefty not yet throwing a pitch.
Tulane got their ups in the bottom of the frame and Josh Prince stayed hot, taking the first pitch he saw from Davis over the scoreboard in left field, making it 4-1 in favor of the Tigers. With one out, Sam Honeck drew a base on balls on four straight pitches before Davis induced a fly ball for the second out of the inning. Seth Henry stepped in and took another four pitches for balls.
With runners at first and second, Steve Moritz added to the Wave run column with a base hit to right field, scoring Honeck and moving Henry to third. Evan Mistich was up next for Tulane and the freshman from Houma, La. drove the ball to right-centerfield, where it ricocheted off the wall, allowing Mistich, who was motoring around the bases with two down, to come all the way around and score. The inside-the-park home run gave the Green Wave the 5-4 lead after the first.
Flynn settled down in the second, retiring the Tigers in order to get Tulane back to banging. Ryan barreled one up to centerfield but Martinez made the sliding catch to rob the Tulane third baseman of the hit. Prince (1-3, three BB) followed with a walk and quickly moved around the bases, notching his 36 and 37 stolen bases of the season, moving the junior shortstop into a tie for fourth place in the Tulane record books for stolen bases in a single season. Prince crossed the pay station for the second time of the afternoon when Scott Powell logged a ground ball to Tigers' first baseman Wiedman, giving Powell the RBI and Tulane extended their lead 6-4 after two full.
The Green Wave offense wasn't done, as Henry reached double figures in the home run category in the bottom of the third. The senior launched a 1-0 pitch from Davis into left field for his tenth bomb of the year and putting Tulane up 7-4.
Flynn kept his poise throughout, retiring the next 11 Tigers after relinquishing the home run to Bowen in the first. But Jacob Wilson attempted to rally the Tigers on in the fifth, taking Flynn deep to bring Memphis within two, 7-5. Flynn went back to work, getting out of the inning with just the single digit in the fifth.
Both teams stayed quiet in the sixth but not for long, as the Tigers unloaded in the top of the seventh. Designated hitter Cole Shelton led off the frame with a base hit, followed by another knock, off the bat of Wilson. Jones called on lefty Matt Petiton to face Martinez, who drew the walk to load the bases, bringing up Huelsing. Huelsing picked up an RBI on a base on balls, ending Petiton's outing. Right-hander Preston Claiborne entered the contest for the Wave with the bases still loaded and no outs with the Tigers' three-hitter due up in McClain. McClain gave the Tigers new life as he launched a grand slam to left to give Memphis the 10-7 lead.
But Tulane wasn't out of it yet, as the offense picked up their pitchers, with Schaffer drawing the leadoff walk. Henry followed with another base on balls, leading to a pitching change for the Tigers. Memphis called on Garrett Hatchel to face Moritz (4-6, double, RBI), who stayed hot, tallying his fourth hit of the day, an RBI-single to left that scored Schaffer. Mistich stepped in and flew out to center, good enough to move Henry to third on the tag play. Left-handed hitting Jamie Bruno stepped in to pinch hit for Tulane and picked up a big hit with a base knock to right-center that landed him on third while scoring Henry and Moritz. Allain entered the contest to run for Bruno at third and scored easily on the base hit to right field off the bat of Matt Ryan and Tulane hopped back on top, 11-10 heading into the eighth.
The Tigers struck back in the top of the ninth inning, with Chris Newsom opening play with a single. Newsom advanced into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt from Robby Graham. Wilson tied the game at 11 with a base hit to right that scored Newsom and Tulane again went to the pen, bringing in freshman Ryan Doiron to face the top of the Tigers' order. Doiron got a ground ball to Honeck at first for the second out of the inning, followed by a fly ball out to end the frame, but not before Memphis knotted it back up 11-11.
Doiron stayed tough in the ninth, striking out McClain and Ablett to open the frame. After Wiedman and Bowen tried to get a rally going with back to back singles, Doiron shut the Tigers down, sending Newsom back to the dugout with the strikeout to snuff out the scoring hopes of Memphis in the top of the ninth.
The teams stayed quiet through the bottom of the ninth and into the tenth before Prince picked up a one-out walk to get the Green Wave offense going in the bottom of the tenth. That would end the outing for Hatchel, with Matt Yokley headed to the hill for the Tigers to face Powell. Prince broke for second on the first pitch of Powell's at bat, stealing his 38 base. Prince advanced to third on a ground ball out from Powell, bringing up Honeck, who received the free pass to first but the Wave couldn't get the runs home as the teams remained knotted at 11 headed into the eleventh.
Doiron retired one Tiger in the twelfth before Jones called on senior Mason Griffin in relief of Doiron. Doiron went 4.0 innings, giving up just three hits and striking out six in his longest outing of the year. Griffin came in strong, getting two quick fly balls in Martinez and Huelsing to get the Wave back in the dugout.
"Ryan gave us a good lift," Jones said. "He gave us some good innings there when we weren't scoring. We used every ounce of our bullpen and had he not been able to stretch that out for us, it would have been tough."
Drew Allain opened the last frame, getting ahead in the count 1-0 before crushing the ball over the fence in left field to give Tulane the exciting series win in the bottom of the twelfth.
"It was awesome," Allain said of his home run. "I haven't ever had anything like that and I was in the outfield, talking to Scotty [Powell] and you live for a moment like that. It was something special."
The Green Wave will look to keep rolling as they lead to Baton Rouge on Tuesday to face Louisiana State. First pitch for the midweek game is at 6:30PM and will be broadcast locally on CST.