May 5, 2006
METAIRIE, La. - On paper, Friday's Conference USA contest between Tulane and Marshall had all the makings of a great matchup - Sean Morgan's pitching vs. the Thundering Herd's hitting.
Morgan entered the game with the team's best ERA (3.46) and opponent batting average (.213) while Marshall featured the league's No. 3 offense in terms of batting average (.308) and slugging percentage (.478). Defense, however, proved to be the key as the Green Wave turned a pair of double plays and a triple play, and took advantage of a key error by the Herd in the third inning as Tulane blanked Marshall, 3-0, in the series opener at Zephyr Field.
"Our defense was just tremendous," Tulane head coach Rick Jones said. "We turned two double plays and a triple play and they weren't easy. But our defense has been the consistent thing all year for us - knock on wood - and tonight pitching and defense was the key. Our defense has been our constant all year at the high level. Tonight, we really needed it and it was stellar."
With the win - Tulane's third in a row, 10th in its last 11 games and 11th in its last 13 contests - the Green Wave improve to 32-16 on the year and even their C-USA record at 8-8. Marshall, meanwhile, falls to 20-22 overall and 6-13 in league action.
Morgan (7-4) pitched 8.0 shutout innings, striking out five while scattering five hits and five walks during his time on the hill. Junior closer Daniel Latham struck out all three men he faced in the ninth to claim his 11th save of the year and tie the C-USA career saves record with 30. Latham, who surpassed Joey Charron (28 from 2001-04) on the Tulane career list in Tuesday night's 11-8 win over McNeese State, tied the league record set by USF's Joey Livingston from 2001-04.
Redshirt-freshman right fielder Warren McFadden extended his hitting streak to 18 games, going 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Sophomore second baseman Brad Emaus and junior designated hitter Tim Guidry joined McFadden in the multiple-hit club with two hits apiece.
In the home half of the frame, Guidry got things going with a leadoff double and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by rookie catcher Max Kwan. Marshall starter Brian Chrisman did his part to get out of the inning unscathed with an infield popup and a groundball to second off the bat of sophomore shortstop Cat Everett.
Everett's two-out grounder was well hit, but Herd second baseman Brent Mason laid out to make the play. The throw to first, however, went into the dugout and Guidry came around to score the only run the Green Wave needed. McFadden followed with an RBI-single to shallow center to give Tulane a 2-0 lead.
After seeing a leadoff single by centerfielder Adam Ptacek get erased by a 5-4-3 double play in the fifth, Marshall had the first two men of the fifth on base courtesy of base hits by Adam Frederick and Russell, and Stieger following with a shot to second. Emaus made a nice play to snare the ball, and with the runners moving on the 3-2 pitch, tossed to Everett at second who followed with a strike to junior Mark Hamilton at first for a triple play.
One inning later, the Herd had runners on the corners as Mason doubled and moved to third on a passed ball, and right fielder Brit Vincent walked with one away. Ptacek hit another shot toward the middle of the infield, but Emaus redirected the ball toward second and Everett once again made a nice relay to keep the shutout intact.
The Green Wave offense, meanwhile, added an insurance run in the eighth inning when Southard drew a bases-loaded walk, and Latham struck out the side in the top of the ninth to seal the victory.
"I thought Tulane made all the plays tonight," Marshall head coach Dave Piepenbrink said. "Defensively, they were very strong. We played well, but it came down to them making all the plays and us making all the plays but one. We hit some balls on the button, but just couldn't find the holes."
Chrisman (2-6) was saddled with the loss after giving three runs (one earned) on five hits while striking out four and walking three in seven-plus innings of work. Andrew Blain came on with one on and nobody out in the eighth, but did not record an out after giving up a double to McFadden and an intentional walk to Hamilton. Brian Knippelmeyer walked Southard to account for the final score, but retired the next three batters he faced on an infield popup, and fielder's choice and a fly ball to center.
Tulane and Marshall continue the series on Saturday at 2 p.m. before closing out the weekend on Sunday with first pitch slated for 1 p.m. The Zephyr Field Ticket Office is located on the third-base side of the stadium, and opens two hours prior to first pitch.
Both games will be broadcast on the flagship station of Tulane baseball, WRBH 88.3 FM, and will be simulcast on WODT 1280 AM, The Sports Monster. In addition, the games can be heard on the internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com to subscribers of the All-Access Pass, and live stats are provided free via GameTracker.