May 2, 2014
NEW ORLEANS - A furious rally by the Tulane baseball team in the last two frames of their Friday night contest against Conference USA foe Southern Miss came up a bit short as the Green Wave lost, 4-2, thanks in part to a three-run third inning by the Golden Eagles' offense.
Tulane (18-25, 6-14), trailing 4-0 heading into bottom of the eighth, made things interesting and had a chance to have another magical moment when it was all said and done.
After freshman third baseman Hunter Hope scored in the bottom of the eighth on a sacrifice fly from freshman outfielder Grant Brown, the Green Wave got to Southern Miss (28-19, 15-7) starting pitcher Conor Fisk in the last frame of the game. Freshman second baseman Jake Willsey struck out at the dish, but reached first on a passed ball before moving to second on a single by junior first baseman Garrett Deschamp. Senior outfielder Andrew Garner brought Willsey home before Fisk (5-2) was pulled in favor of reliever Sean Buchholz. With two runners on base, and the winning run at the plate, Buchholz recorded two straight outs to pick up his fourth save of the season, and keep the Green Wave from battling all the way back.
"We just didn't get enough runs when it mattered tonight," stated Tulane baseball interim head coach Jake Gautreau. "The guys are competing like crazy, and it's just one of those deals where, on the weekends, in conference, we just haven't played good enough to get some more wins. I feel like, here, over the last week and a half, our offense has been playing better baseball, but it's just one of those deals where we have to go out there and be consistent."
Freshman starting pitcher Corey Merrill got the start on Friday, and the product from Lutcher had another solid outing, despite being credited with the loss. Merrill (0-4) threw 7.0 innings of four-hit ball while allowing three runs and striking out a career-high six.
However, the aforementioned third inning for Southern Miss played a big part in Friday's tilt.
After recording the first out in the top of the third, Merrill allowed three-straight singles to Southern Miss, with the third scoring Nick Dawson from second base. Tim Lynch grounded out during the next at-bat to score Connor Barron, and a double down the left field line by Matt Durst scored Michael Sterling to give the Golden Eagles a big 3-0 lead.
"I thought he threw the ball well tonight," added Gautreau of his starting pitcher. "He competed really hard for us out there. He didn't have his best stuff, but still found a way to get us deep into the game. In that big inning they had, he had a chance to put those guys away on 0-2 counts, and he just left some balls up in the zone, and they put good swings on them. Without having his best stuff, he just made a couple pitches to a couple of guys that ended up hurting us in the end."
The Golden Eagles tacked on a run in the top of the eighth when Barron hit his fourth home run of the year off Tulane sophomore reliever Emerson Gibbs.
Gibbs pitched 1.0 inning in relief, allowing three hits and one earned run. Freshman reliever Matt Horton pitched the top of the ninth, fanning one.
Fisk had a solid game for the Golden Eagles, pitching 8.1 innings and striking out 11 while walking one and allowing six hits.
On Saturday, the two teams will return to Greer Field at Turchin Stadium for a 2pm CT first pitch. Tulane will send redshirt junior Randy LeBlanc to the mound, while Christian Talley will get the start for the Golden Eagles.
Saturday will be Mother-Daughter Day at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium. Fans can purchase one adult ticket and receive one free youth ticket.
Single game tickets are available for the weekend contests. For more information on tickets, call 504-861-WAVE (9283), or visit the James W. Wilson, Jr. Center's first-floor ticket office.
Fans can follow the Tulane baseball program on Twitter (@GreenWaveBSB) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GreenWaveBaseball.