David Napoli Struck Out Five Batters in Six Innings of Work on Thursday Night Versus East Carolina
May 19, 2011
NEW ORLEANS - An opportunity presented itself on Thursday evening for the Tulane baseball team, but East Carolina escaped nearly unscathed to hand the Green Wave a 5-1 loss in the series opener on Thursday. Trailing 3-0 in the seventh, Tulane loaded the bases and Bowen Woodson drove in an RBI with a walk, but that was all Tulane could get to open their final weekend of the regular season.
"When you get outhit 12-2 and make two errors against a good club with that type of pitching, it is going to be tough to win games," said Tulane head coach Rick Jones. "I thought maybe we were turning some momentum there early, turning the two double plays in the air. We missed out chance in the seventh, we just missed our chance. Bases loaded a one run already in and just one out and then they get a ground ball...You have to credit them for that. That is why there pitching staff has the numbers they do, they make pitches."
David Napoli got the start in the Thursday night affair for Tulane (30-22, 10-12 C-USA)and wiggled off the hook in the first two innings, stranding two runners on base in each frame to keep the game scoreless heading to the third.
East Carolina (35-18, 12-10 C-USA) got the offense started in the third inning as the first three batters reached base via hit, with Trent Whitehead's followed a leadoff double from Corey Thompson with an RBI single to get the scoring started. After a double play accounted for the first two outs, John Wooten's infield single plated the second run of the contest for the visitors.
An unearned run in the seventh inning stretched the lead to 3-0, but Tulane would threaten in the bottom of the inning. Mike Wright rolled through the first six innings, retiring 16 of the 18 batters he faced, but found trouble in the seventh, walking the first two batters on nine pitches before uncorking a wild pitch to the third batter. With the count at 1-0 on Blake Crohan, Brad Mincey entered from the bullpen and walked the sophomore to load the bases.
Woodson worked a full count walk from Mincey to push the first run across the board and Tulane stood in great position to grab the momentum in the contest with the bases loaded and no one out. Mincey got Garrett Cannizaro to chop a ball in front of the mound and the Pirates got the force out at home plate for the first out of the inning. Cody Robinson stepped in and hooked the first pitch he saw from Mincey deep to left field, but the ball drifted foul and Robinson eventually grounded into an inning ending double play.
Napoli worked into the seventh and allowed the three runs - two earned - on nine hits. The left-hander fanned five batters and walked three in six innings of official work and fell to 1-3 overall in the season.
ECU would add a pair of runs in the ninth inning against Tulane relievers Drew Zizinia and Alex Facundus to extend their lead to 5-1. Zizinia would be charged with both runs, allowing them on two hits, while walking three in two and one third innings, and Facundus tossed the final two-thirds of an inning and didn't allow a run with one strikeout.
"All we want to think about now is that we have to win tomorrow," said Jones. "We have to at least win one in this (series) and we need to win two. We have to win tomorrow before we do anything else. I don't want us to think about anything, I just want us to think about tomorrow."
Nick Schneeberger and Nick Boullosa each reached base twice in the game, with Schneeberger and Garrett Cannizaro recording the only hits in the contest for Tulane. Boullosa walked twice, while Jeremy Schaffer scored the lone run of the ball game for the Olive and Blue.
The second game of the series will take place on Friday evening on the turf inside Greer Field at Turchin Stadium, with the Green Wave and Pirates taking to the field for a 6:30 first pitch.