May 14, 2006
METAIRIE, La. - Playing their final home game of the regular season and with their mothers on hand for a pregame Mother's Day celebration, senior right-hander Billy Mohl posted a season-best seven strikeouts and senior centerfielder Nathan Southard went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI as the Tulane University baseball team completed a three-game sweep of Conference USA rival Southern Miss with a 5-4 come-from-behind victory Sunday afternoon at Zephyr Field.
The Green Wave fell behind 3-0 after two innings, but after three scoreless frames, Tulane cracked the scoring column in the sixth and hung a four-spot in the seventh to take a 5-3 advantage. Southern Miss cut the lead to one in the ninth and had the tying run at second base for the third consecutive game, but junior reliever Daniel Latham pitched the Green Wave out of the jam to close out the home portion of the regular season on a high note.
"I can't explain what's going on and I don't know what's going to happen next week, but I've never been more proud of a team," Tulane head coach Rick Jones said. "This team has never given in to circumstances. The last two or three weeks, I've just kind of been along for the ride.
"We played well when we had to. We had clutch at-bats late, we played really well defensively, and Billy settled down to keep us close. Daniel gave us a chance to win, pumping strikes and keeping the ball down. All weekend long, we got our bunts down, we executed defensively and we ran the bases very, very well. We did what we had to do."
The Green Wave, who posted their ninth consecutive regular-season win at home against the Golden Eagles, ran their winning streak to a season-best eight in a row to improve to 37-16 on the year and 13-8 in league play. The sweep guarantees Tulane the No. 3 seed in the C-USA Tournament, where the Green Wave will play the league's sixth-seeded team (which is yet to be determined) at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, May 24, at Rice's Reckling Park in Houston. Southern Miss, meanwhile, falls to 34-19 overall and into a three-way tie for fourth in the C-USA standings at 10-11.
Southern Miss had a runners at second and third with one out in the third, but Mohl bounced back to strike out right fielder Jody Blount and left fielder Luke Adkins to get out of the inning unscathed. Two innings later, the Golden Eagles and loaded the bases with one away, but Mohl posted a punchout and a 4-3 grounder to leave the sacks full.
The Green Wave got on the scoreboard in the sixth when Southard doubled with one out, advanced to third on a single by sophomore second baseman Brad Emaus, and scored on a fielder's choice by a hustling freshman third baseman Seth Henry, who dove head first to avoid a double play.
Junior designated hitter Tim Guidry opened the seventh with his first home run of the season - a towering shot to left center - and junior catcher Ty Wallace followed with a four-pitch walk. Wallace was replaced by pinch runner Scott Powell, and following a sacrifice bunt by senior left fielder Matt Riser, sophomore shortstop Cat Everett laced a RBI-single to right to tie the game at 3-all.
Everett's knock chased Southern Miss starter Cliff Russum from the game, and following a first-pitch popup to second for the second out of the inning, junior first baseman Mark Hamilton put Tulane ahead for good when he smoked an RBI-double to the wall in right central off of southpaw reliever Matt Caire. Southard provided the Green Wave with a little insurance with an RBI-single to left for what proved to be the difference in the ballgame.
The Golden Eagles, however, did not go away quietly as shortstop Brian Dozier hit a one-out single in the ninth and went all the way to third in the ensuing at-bat when Sutton reached on a two-base error. Southern Miss cut the lead to one on a sacrifice fly by Maddox , but Latham bounced back to get Toddric Johnson to ground out to first to clinch his 13th save of the year and spark the Tulane celebration.
Russum (6-5) was saddled with the loss after giving up four runs on six hits while striking out three and walking five in 6.1 innings of work. Caire allowed one run on a pair of hits in two-thirds of an inning of relief, and Patrick Ezell tossed a perfect eighth inning.
The Green Wave return to action on Thursday, May 18, when they open a three-game series at UAB to close out the regular season. Following the series against the Blazers, Tulane will take part in the 2006 C-USA Tournament with an eye on earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals with a tourney championship.