Junior Brennan Middleton Posted Three Hits and Stole Three Bases on Thursday Night Versus Marshall
May 17, 2012
NEW ORLEANS - Alex Byo allowed a run in the first inning on Thursday (May 17) night versus Marshall , but that was all the right-hander would allow as the Tulane baseball team scored the final three runs and claimed a 3-1 series opening victory. Tulane was out-hit for just the 14th time this season, but Brennan Middleton had three hits, stole three bases and scored twice from the leadoff spot in the victory.
"(Alex) Byo pitched really well tonight," said Tulane head coach Rick Jones. "We didn't swing the bats that well, but that's because both their starter and their reliever did a good job of pitching down in the zone...We won the ball game because Alex (Byo) pitched well, especially in the middle innings, and we played very well defensively tonight. Brennan Middleton had a great game in the leadoff spot. (Brennan) played well tonight, he played really well."
Marshall (16-36, 4-18 C-USA) scored the first run of the game against Green Wave starting pitcher Alex Byo, but the Olive and Blue would tally the final three runs of the ballgame, while Byo moved through the order with little resistance after getting out of a bases loaded jam in the second inning.
Isaac Balllou got the Thundering Herd offense off to a quick start with a base hit up the middle and moved to second when Byo hit the next batter. After a strikeout, Eric Escobedo singled to left field to make it 1-0 in favor of the visitors.
Brennan Middleton wasted no time moving his reached base streak to 30 games with a base hit to lead off the bottom of the first inning for Tulane (36-17, 13-9 C-USA) and promptly stole second base. Jeremy Schaffer drew a two-out walk, after Middleton moved to third on a ground out, and the two executed the double steal to perfection to knot the game at one run.
A pair of extra-base hits led to the final two runs of the game, as Middleton tripled down the left-field line in third - scoring on a Blake Crohan single - and Schaffer doubled to start the fourth and came around to score on a sacrifice fly from Florio.
That was all of the cushion that Byo would need to pick up his team-leading eighth victory of the season and retired the final 14 batters - allowing only one hit - to hold the Thundering Herd offense scoreless. He allowed the one run on seven hits and tied his season-high with seven strikeouts. He didn't walk a batter, but did hit two, and coaxed ten groundball outs in the outing.
D.J. Ponder came on to throw the ninth and fired 15 pitches, allowing two hits, to collect his 11th save of the season. The senior is now tied for the Conference USA lead in saves and sits in a tie for sixth on the single season saves charts with Brandon Belanger (2000).
In the game, Middleton continued to swing the bat well with a three-for-four night at the plate and stole a career-high three bases in the victory. Schaffer's double in the fourth inning was the 55th of his career and moves him into tenth on the career charts in that category. Crohan and Bowen Woodson accounted for the only other hits of the game - both chipping in singles - while Schaffer, Sean Potkay and Nick Schneeberger all collected walks.
The Green Wave will look to win their sixth Conference USA series in eight tries when they host Marshall 6:30 on Friday, May 18 evening. The Olive and Blue will honor their seniors at 1:00 on Saturday, May 19 as a part of the regular season finale.
GAME NOTES - Tulane leads the all-time series, 15-6-1. - Brennan Middleton moved his reached base streak to 30 games and hitting streak to eight with a first inning single. - Middleton stole a career-high three stolen bases in the series opener. - Blake Crohan moved his hitting streak to eight games on Thursday night. - Jeremy Schaffer pushed his hitting streak to five games on Thursday. - Schaffer posted the 55th double of his career on Thursday night, moving him into tenth on the career doubles charts. - Alex Byo threw five or more innings for the seventh straight outing - 11th time overall in 13 starts. - Byo tied his season-high for strikeouts with seven (Louisiana-Lafayette, 5/8). - D.J. Ponder posted his 11th save of the season on Thursday to move into a tie for sixth on the single season saves charts. - Ponder now ranks in a tie for sixth on the career saves charts with 12 in his career.