Hope Notches Walk-Off Win while Mapes Pitches Gem in Baseball's Season-Finale Against FIU

TULANEGREENWAVE.COM Redshirt senior Tyler Mapes went 8.0 innings in a 2-1 win over FIU on Saturday
Redshirt senior Tyler Mapes went 8.0 innings in a 2-1 win over FIU on Saturday

May 17, 2014

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NEW ORLEANS - Tulane baseball ended their season with a bang, as the Green Wave's Tyler Mapes pitched 8.0 outstanding innings in his last performance while freshman third baseman Hunter Hope delivered another walk-off hit in a 2-1 victory over FIU at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium on Saturday.

For the second-consecutive game, Tulane (23-29, 10-18) got a solid outing from a veteran starting pitcher, while a rookie came up with a walk-off hit, as redshirt junior Randy LeBlanc pitched 8.1 innings on Friday night before freshman shortstop Stephen Alemais came up with a game-winning knock. On Saturday, Mapes nearly matched LeBlanc's outing, going 8.0 innings while allowing seven hits and just one unearned run in addition to fanning five.

In the bottom of the ninth, with the score tied at one, Alemais lifted a high, fly ball to deep left field that eluded FIU's (36-18, 16-14) Brandon Gomez, allowing Alemais to reach second. After moving to third on a sacrifice bunt from junior first baseman Garrett Deschamp, Hope singled to right field to bring Alemais home, while giving the Green Wave their seventh walk-off victory of the season.

"It feels great on a personal level because we've been preaching `Don't give up. Don't give in,'" stated Tulane baseball interim head coach Jake Gautreau. "And here for the last five weeks, they haven't given in. You saw a club who continued to fight and I think you saw a club with a lot of character. For them to end the season the way they did when it comes to winning the last three out of four weekends, playing well in midweek, then winning in that fashion today, I think it's a special thing."

Hope led the way at the dish with a 2-for-4 day with the game-winning RBI, while fellow freshmen Lex Kaplan and Jake Willsey each notched a base hit, as well.

Mapes, who posted his seventh outing of 7.0 innings or more, kept the FIU hitters in check through most of the contest. He fell behind in the top of the third, though, when J.C. Escarra singled and advanced to second on an error. Escarra moved to third on a bunt and came home on Tulane's single-season record-breaking 62nd double play turned. Mapes was able to get out of the inning without allowing any more damage.

The Tulane bats tied things up in the bottom of the fifth with two outs as freshman catcher Jake Rogers walked and moved to second on Kaplan's single. Willsey hit a long shot into center field that allowed Rogers to come home as the tying run.

Mapes continued to deal, as he allowed just a hit in the seventh and eighth innings before exiting the mound for the final time in his career.

"Tyler was really good today," added Gautreau. "What you see is what you get with Tyler; we knew what we were going to get. I'm very happy for Tyler; he's a great kid. He's been big part of our success this year. I hope he continues to do great things." Sophomore reliever Ian Gibaut came to the mound in the top of the ninth, and he recorded a quick three outs to turn it over to his offense. Gibaut (2-0) picked up the win for the Green Wave.

FIU's Gunnar McNeill was credited with the loss on the day. McNeill (1-2) pitched 2.0 innings, allowing one run on one hit. He struck out two.

Tulane did turn another double play in the contest, giving them a total of 63 on the season, the most ever by a Green Wave club in a single season.

While Tulane will not compete in the Conference USA Championship in Hattiesburg this upcoming week, the table has been set for a promising 2015, as Tulane is one of just four programs in the NCAA that started five or more freshmen in over half of their games. Rogers broke the Tulane record in runners caught stealing with 23, as he threw out exactly half of his baserunners on the season. Hope led the team in hits with 53 and his batting average of .269 led the way for the Green Wave.

"I think the future is very bright," added Gautreau. "I think if you can be positive, all you have to do is look at how these guys reacted in the last five weeks. These guys grew up tremendously over the last five or six weeks. No matter what you've seen, I'm telling you these guys are really good players, they're just young. We have a lot of really good players coming in the future and the following two or three classes. I think the future is bright. I'm excited about his group moving forward, I think they learned a lot and we have a lot of really good players coming in."

Prior to the beginning of Saturday's contest, Tulane's six senior players - Nick DiMaggio, Bowen Woodson, Kyle McKenzie, Andrew Garner, Brady Wilson and Mapes - along with Tulane student assistant Briggs Barrios were honored during Senior Day ceremonies. The seven received framed Tulane jerseys bearing their number.

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