Baseball Falls 9-1 to FIU in Final Conference USA Series Opener

TULANEGREENWAVE.COM Freshman starter Corey Merrill made his fifth-straight weekend-opening start against FIU on Thursday
Freshman starter Corey Merrill made his fifth-straight weekend-opening start against FIU on Thursday

May 15, 2014

Box Score

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NEW ORLEANS - In their final Conference USA series opener, Tulane's baseball team lost to FIU on Thursday night at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium by a score of 9-1, despite another solid effort from freshman starting pitcher Corey Merrill.

Tulane (21-29, 8-18) and FIU (36-16, 15-13) were tied at zero heading into the top of the third when a misjudged ball off the bat of the Panther's Tyler Hibbert gave him a triple. Merrill (0-5) easily retired the next two batters, giving him what should have been the third out of the frame if not for the misjudged ball to open the frame. However, a walk issued by Merrill put runners at the corners, and a bunt put down in front of home plate by Zach Sweety allowed Hibbert to score the go-ahead run before Merrill walked Brian Portelli to load the bases. L.K. Thompson then cleared the bags with a double to right field to give FIU a 4-0 lead.

"I thought Corey was throwing the ball there really well in the third inning," said Tulane baseball interim head coach Jake Gautreau. "With two outs, they were trying to make something happen. They laid a bunt down and we kind of panicked and made the wrong decision. If we throw the ball to first base, we are out of the inning, and it's a whole different ball game. We just panicked and didn't make a good decision and it cost us a lot of runs."

Merrill pitched 4.0 innings on the evening, allowing six hits and striking out one. He allowed five runs - four of which were earned - but things could have panned out differently for the product from Lutcher.

"I thought he threw the ball well," added Gautreau of his freshman starter. "I thought Corey competed, did a good job, and like I said: it's a whole different ball game if we field that ball and throw it to first base. It was unfortunate it worked out that way."

At the dish, Tulane collected seven hits, with freshman shortstop Stephen Alemais and freshman outfielder Grant Brown each collecting two hits.

The lone run scored by the Green Wave came in the bottom of the fifth when freshman catcher Jake Rogers recorded his first-career triple and came home on a groundout by freshman second baseman Jake Willsey.

FIU scored a single run in the fourth, seventh and ninth innings while also adding another two in the eighth. Sophomore reliever Emerson Gibbs pitched 3.0 innings after Merrill left the contest, and he allowed one run on two hits and two strikeouts.

Freshman reliever Tyler Zamjahn and senior southpaw Brady Wilson pitched the last two innings, respectively. Wilson struck out two.

FIU's Mike Franco picked up the win for his 7.0-inning performance. Franco (9-3) held the Green Wave to five hits while striking out seven and walking two.

Thursday evening marked the final Conference USA opener for the Green Wave, as the program will move to the American Athletic Conference for the 2015 season.

The two teams will return to Greer Field at Turchin Stadium on Friday evening for a 6:30pm CT tilt. Live stats can be followed through the GameTracker link on the TulaneGreenWave.com baseball schedule page. Additionally, the game will be broadcast on the home of Tulane baseball for the 2014 season, 88.3 FM WRBH.

Prior to the beginning of Friday's contest, Tulane's six senior players - Nick DiMaggio, Bowen Woodson, Kyle McKenzie, Andrew Garner, Tyler Mapes and Wilson - along with Tulane student assistant Briggs Barrios will be presented with their degrees since the seven will not be able to attend graduation ceremonies on Saturday due to the game.

The entire weekend will be Faculty and Staff Appreciation Weekend. Any Tulane faculty or staff member can call 504-861-WAVE (9283) to RSVP for their free ticket. Free food will be made available to attendees. 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.