May 13, 2012
HOUSTON, Texas - Not since the 2000 season had the Tulane baseball team won all of their Conference USA road series, but on Sunday (May 13) the Green Wave claimed an 11-2 victory over Houston at Cougar Field to finish with four C-USA road series victories in as many tries. The Olive and Blue raced out to an early 4-0 and Alex Massey made that total stand up with six innings of one-run work on the mound.
It was just the second since joining Conference USA that Tulane was able to win all of their road series in a season. Tulane won two of three games at Memphis, UAB, East Carolina and Houston this season to finish the regular season with a 10-8 record on the road. The victory also pushed the team to 35 wins on the season, which are the most victories in a season since winning 39 in 2008.
"I think (winning on the road) shows that we have a veteran club," said Tulane head coach Rick Jones. "We have a club that can pitch and play really defense and if you don't pitch against us it is going to be tough. We don't let in a lot of runs and we have a veteran club that can score runs if you don't pitch against us."
Tulane (35-17, 12-9 C-USA) got the offense started with four runs in the first inning against Cougar starting pitcher Aaron Garza before the right-hander could record an out. Brennan Middleton and Garret Cannizaro singled and Nick Schneeberger was hit by a pitch to load the bases before a Jeremy Schaffer single plated the first run. Blake Crohan followed with a double to right-center field to score two runs and end the day for Garza. Sean Potkay would tack on the fourth run of the frame with a sacrifice fly.
Tulane would add two runs in the fourth, one in the fifth and two more in the sixth to move their lead to 9-1. Sean Potkay started the fourth with his fifth home run of the season - all on the road - and Cannizaro added the second run with an RBI infield single. Andrew Garner pushed across a run with a base hit in the fifth, while Middleton and Cannizaro each added RBIs in the sixth.
The Green Wave added single runs in the seventh and eighth innings, but a Houston run in the seventh took the run-rule out of the equation. Potkay scored his second run of the afternoon in the seventh when Troy McCartney grounded into a bases loaded double play and a Garner double scored Crohan from first after the junior reached on an error with two outs in the frame.
Kyle McKenzie came on to start the seventh and allowed a run on three hits in an inning and two-thirds of relief work. McKenzie loaded the bases in the eighth, but Tyler Mapes came on to strike out the final batter of the eighth and throw a scoreless ninth to preserve the 11-2 victory.
"It seems like the more wounded we are, the better we play (right now)," said Jones. "It was unfortunate to have the injuries that we have had, of late, but we played through them as well as I could have possibly hoped for. You have to give credit to our entire roster and we pitched really well again today. I thought that Alex (Massey) fought through it and made pitches when he had too, even though he didn't have really good command early. He really settled in, found his command and got us through six innings."
At the plate, Middleton moved his reached base streak to 29 games with a three-for-four performance at the plate. The junior posted his 15th base hit bunt of the season and tripled into the left-center field gap before leaving the game due to injury. Cannizaro also belted out three hits and drove in two RBIs before leaving the game after being hit by a pitch in the eighth inning. Potkay returned to the lineup after missing seven starts and had a home run, a pair of RBIs and a walk.
As a team, Tulane walked four times, were hit by two pitches and posted ten-plus hits for the fifth straight game. Crohan and Garner each had two of the team's ten RBIs in the series finale with the Cougars. The defense played an errorless game and turned three double-plays, one that closed out the 35th win of the season in the ninth.
Tulane will close out the regular season with a three game home stand against Marshall starting on Thursday, May 17 at 6:30 inside Greer Field at Turchin Stadium. The Green Wave and Marshall will continue the series at 6:30 on Friday, May 18 evening before they will honor their seniors on Senior Day at 1:00 on Saturday, May 19.
- Houston leads the all-time series, 31-27.
- Tulane posted its 35th win on Sunday, their most wins in a season since going 39-22 in 2008.
- Tulane won its fourth Conference USA road series of the season, marking just the second time in school history that Tulane has won all of their C-USA road series (2000; at Houston, at Cincinnati, at UAB, at Memphis, at USF)
- Tulane won their second straight series at Houston with a 2-1 series victory on Sunday, also won series 2-1 in 2010.
- Tulane sent eight batters to the plate in the first and sixth innings, marking the 37th and 38th times this season they have sent eight of more hitters to the plate in an inning.
- Tulane posted its fifth straight ten-plus hit game and 30th such effort of the year on Sunday afternoon.
- Brennan Middleton moved his reached base streak to 29 games with a leadoff single on Sunday.
- Middleton posted his 15th base hit bunt of the season in the second inning.
- Sean Potkay hits his fifth home run of the season, all on the road, on Sunday. (2x @Wichita State, 1x @ UAB, 1x @ East Carolina, 1x @ Houston)
- Alex Massey fanned a career-high seven batters in his eighth start of the season.
- Massey improved to 3-1 on the season with six innings of work on Sunday.