Redshirt sophomore Randy LeBlanc pitched 5.2 innings, earning a no-decision, in a 6-3 loss to UAB
May 18, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - During the final game at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium for 11 Green Wave seniors, Tulane dropped a tilt to UAB, 6-3, after back-to-back big innings by the Blazers in the sixth and seventh frames.
With a 3-0 lead and two outs in the sixth inning, Tulane (28-27, 11-13) starter Randy LeBlanc was cruising before UAB's (22-34, 7-17) Ryan Prinzing laced a triple into left field that bounced over a diving Richard Carthon. LeBlanc then surrendered a single to Jack Frost to score Prinzing to give UAB their first run of the contest. A single through the right side by Harry Clark put Frost at third base, before he stole home to cut Tulane's lead to one run.
Junior Kyle McKenzie replaced LeBlanc on the hill to retire the last out of the sixth. In the next inning, Griffin Gum reached on an error in the infield with one out, and Ivan De Jesus moved him to third on a single into center field. Prinzing walked to load the bases before freshman Ian Gibaut stepped to the hill to relieve McKenzie (3-3). Frost grounded out to senior shortstop Brennan Middleton, but the Greenies had to concede a run as Gum crossed home plate to tie the contest. UAB was not done, however, as Clark singled up the middle to push two more runs across the dish before the inning ended.
Despite the loss, Tulane's seeding heading into the Conference USA Championships was not affected, as they will enter the tournament as the seventh seed.
"Even though it didn't change seeding, you still want to win every game you can, and have momentum going into the conference tournament if possible," said Tulane baseball head coach Rick Jones. "Randy was cruising there, and it happened so quickly. Two outs, nobody on, and he just hit a wall there."
Tulane held the lead for the first five innings, as they scored a single run in each of the first, second and fourth innings.
It looked early on as if the Tulane bats would come back to life, as they were held to only five hits in Friday's contest. In the first inning during Saturday's game, Middleton walked with one out and junior Andrew Garner doubled to put Middleton to third. An error in the outfield by UAB allowed Middleton to score on the play, giving Tulane the early lead.
UAB starter Turner Lee - who pitched 3.0 innings on the afternoon - issued a walk to freshman Cameron Burns in the bottom of the second, and he moved to second base on first stolen base of his Tulane career. A single to left field by Carthon - who recorded two hits for the third straight game - plated Burns to give the Greenies a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the fourth, Cannizaro doubled to left center before Lee was pulled in favor of James Naile. Cannizaro advanced to third on a passed ball with one out, and scored on the very next play when Naile delivered a wild pitch after getting his foot caught in the mound. He fell towards the ground, throwing an awkward pitch that sailed past Clark behind the plate, allowing Cannizaro to score.
LeBlanc kept his pitch count very low heading into the sixth inning, as he only allowed three hits to that point in the contest. However, he was pulled after giving up those two runs. McKenzie - who battled a fever during the last few days - loaded the bases in the top of the seventh before Gibaut came to the mound to get out of the jam. The three runs the Blazers scored in that frame put Tulane down, 5-3, at that point.
Naile continued to deal, as he only allowed one hit through the last three innings.
In the top of the ninth, UAB added a final run to their tally. De Jesus singled to left field off Gibaut, and stole second before advancing to third on a wild pitch. Frost hit a fielder's choice to Middleton, who was able to throw De Jesus out at home to keep a run from crossing. However, Frost stole second, and advanced to third on an errant throw from Burns to attempt to catch him stealing. Clark then singled into right field, scoring Frost.
Tulane collected six hits in the game, including two from Carthon and Cannizaro. Middleton and Garner each notched a hit a piece.
Prior to the game, 11 Tulane seniors - Cannizaro, Middleton, Brandon Boudreaux, Alex Byo, David Napoli, Blake Crohan, Sean Potkay, Tucker Oakley, Greg Miller, Tyler Chamberlain-Simon and Andrew Reeves - were honored as they played their final contest at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium. They were presented with framed jerseys, and their families joined them on the field. After each senior was recognized, Chamberlain-Simon was announced as the recipient of the 2013 LeBreton Award - named for lifelong Tulane baseball fans Joan and Jim LeBreton. The award is given to the Tulane baseball player who most exemplifies unselfish hard work, dedication and loyalty to the team.
The Green Wave will travel to Houston on Monday for the Conference USA Championships. The team will practice on Tuesday before opening postseason play with a 3pm CT game against Southern Miss on Wednesday. The Greenies will have Thursday off before playing East Carolina at 11am on Friday and Houston at 3pm CT on Saturday. The winners of both pods will play in the championship game on Sunday.
It's anyone's tournament to win, as top seeded Rice was only four games better than Tulane - who sat in seventh place after all the cards fell.
"Guys are disappointed (with today's game), but they better come back with their minds right," stated Boudreaux. "There isn't a team in the tournament that we haven't beat, so they better think about that."
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