May 6, 2012
NEW ORLEANS - A pair of unearned runs were the difference in the Tulane baseball team's 4-3 victory over Southern Miss on Sunday (May 6) afternoon inside Greer Field at Turchin Stadium. In a tight ballgame that featured four lead changes, Tulane was able to grab a 4-3 lead with a run in the sixth inning and the bullpen did the rest, holding the Golden Eagles off the scoreboard to post the team's first home series sweep of a Conference USA opponent since 2006.
"We pitched well again today," said Tulane head coach Rick Jones. "(Alex) Massey gave us a really good start, (Andrew) Garner was really good in middle, and D.J. (Ponder) was so good there getting the two outs with runners at first and third in the eighth. Getting those two outs was huge (for our team). (Ponder) made some big pitches to get the two strikeouts after the leadoff walk (in the ninth), he just made some great pitches."
Southern Miss (25-22, 9-9 C-USA) struck with the first run of the game in the second inning when Mason Robbins singled, advanced to second on a ground out and moved to third on a balk by Green Wave starting pitcher Alex Massey. Dillon Day then flew out to center field and Robbins was able to tag and score to give the Golden Eagles an early 1-0 edge.
In the third inning, Tulane (32-16, 10-8 C-USA) looked poised to tie the game when Bowen Woodson followed a Brennan Middleton single with a double to left center field, but Middleton was gunned down at the plate by Day, the USM center fielder, at the plate.
The Golden Eagles would respond with two runs of their own in the top of the sixth inning to end the outing for Tulane starting pitcher Alex Massey. Austin Roussel walked with one out before Massey would strikeout Ashley Graeter for the second out of the frame. The rookie then allowed a single and walked a batter to load the bases. It was Day at the plate again and he delivered a two-RBI single to left field to pull the score even at three runs apiece.
Andrew Garner entered with two outs in the frame, ending Massey's outing after five and two-thirds innings. The rookie allowed three runs on five hits - all singles - and walked a pair of Golden Eagle batters. The rookie would strike out four batters in the no decision. Garner threw the next one and one-thirds innings and allowed one hit and struck out a batter before handing the ball to D.J. Ponder.
It didn't take Tulane long to respond, plating the go ahead run in the bottom of the sixth, as Blake Crohan got the bottom half of the inning started with a double to left-center field. He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt from Garner - who was safe on a throwing error by the catcher - and came in to score when Tucker Oakley grounded into double play.
The Golden Eagles started the eighth inning with a double from Roussel, but Ponder entered and shutdown the potential rally to hold the Tulane lead at 4-3. Southern Miss again threatened in the ninth as Ponder returned after a thirty-one minute rain delay and walked the first batter he faced. A sacrifice bunt moved the runner to second and a strikeout accounted for the second out of the frame. An infield single put runners on the corners, but the senior stuck out Roussel to preserve his tenth save of the season.
Ponder tossed two innings of one-hit relief with a pair of walks and two strikeouts to move into sole possession of seventh on Tulane's career saves chart with eleven. He inherited one base runner and stranded him at third in the eighth to mark the 18th runner stranded in 20 occurrences.
It is the first time that Tulane has swept a Conference USA opponent at home since the 2006 season when they took all three games from Southern Miss at Zephyr Field. The last time that the Green Wave swept an opponent at Turchin Stadium was in 2005 when they claimed all three games from Memphis on May 6-8, 2005.
In the game, Crohan was a perfect four-for-four at the plate with a run scored and a RBI, while Woodson had a pair of hits and scored a run. Boudreaux plated an RBI and moved his hitting streak to seven games with a fifth inning base hit. Middleton reached base twice in the game to move his reached base streak to 25 games.
The final midweek challenge of the season will take place on Tuesday, May 8 when Louisiana-Lafayette visits Turchin Stadium for a 6:30 contest. Tulane will then head to Houston for a three game Conference USA series starting on Friday (May 11) at 6:30 and continuing on Saturday (May 12) at 6:30 and Sunday (May 13) at 1:00.
- Tulane leads the all-time series, 90-53-1.
- Tulane posted their first C-USA home sweep since the 2006 season, first at Turchin Stadium since 2005.
- Tulane has won four of six C-USA series in 2012.
- Brennan Middleton posted his 13th base hit bunt of the season in the third inning on Sunday.
- Middleton moved his reached base streak to 25 games on Sunday.
- Brandon Boudreaux went one-for-four to move his reached base streak to 22 games on Sunday.
- Boudreaux's fifth inning single pushed his hitting streak to seven games.
- D.J. Ponder moved into sole possession of seventh on the all-time saves list at Tulane with 11 career saves.
- Ponder has stranded 18 of 20 inherited base runners in 2012.
- Andrew Garner picked up his fifth win of the season on Sunday with one and one-thirds innings of scoreless relief work.