May 22, 2009
HATTIESBURG, Miss.- The 2009 senior class of the Tulane wasn't ready to end their season, as right-hander Josh Zeid tossed a solid outing and received defensive support from outfielder Drew Allain who gunned out two Pirate runners at the plate to save runs as well as a two-RBI knock from Scott Powell to propel Tulane (34-24) over East Carolina 3-0 in the Friday afternoon matchup.
"You have to win different ways on different days," head coach Rick Jones said. "We made two great throws from right field in what would have been the tying and go-ahead runs if we hadn't scored and we had a big at bat from Scotty Powell. We ran the bases really well and Josh Zeid really gave us a good performance. He minimized his pitched and I thought Preston [Claiborne] was outstanding in relief."
It was a pitcher's duel between Zeid and ECU's Brad Mincey, as the two kept the opposition scoreless through four and a half. Zeid received some support from his defense, with Drew Allain delivering two very large throws from right field. Allain made the shoestring grab and came up throwing, to gun down Dustin Harrington to end the ECU offensive threat in the third. Allain was at it again in the seventh when he threw out Harrington again at the plate when the Pirates' sent their shortstop around third to try and get on the board. Allain's throw to Jeremy Schaffer was on the money as the catcher waited to put the tag on Harrington for the third out of the frame, keeping ECU scoreless.
"On the first one, my momentum took me forward," Allain said of his defensive gems. "I knew off the bat I was going to have a chance to throw him out at the plate and usually with two outs left in an inning on a base hit, they're going to be sending him. It just happened that [Trent] Whitehead hit the ball hard enough for me to get to it and I wasn't even trying to hit the cutoff, to be honest. I was going to throw it all the way.
"This is an opportunity for us [the 10 seniors] to keep playing," Allain said. "It's just something special to come out and play with these guys and have this camaraderie. Guys aren't ready to go home yet."
It wasn't until the bottom of the fifth, when Tulane put up a pair of runs, that the bats started to come alive. Allain drew the leadoff walk and was moved to scoring position on the sacrifice bunt from pinch hitter Matt Ryan. Nick Boullosa followed and took ECU starter Brad Mincey back up the box. Allain rounded third but a money throw from centerfielder Trent Whitehead got Allain at the dish but the momentum had clearly swung in favor of the Wave. With two outs, Josh Prince hit a chopper in the hole at short, moving Boullosa, who had advanced to second on Allain's play, to third, bringing up Scott Powell. With Prince on the move, Powell delivered the big two-out knock, a bullet down the left field line that scored Boullosa and Prince and gave Tulane the 2-0 lead through five full.
"It was a curve ball," Powell said of his two-RBI hit. "They started me off first pitch curve ball, second pitch curve ball, third pitch curve ball and that was the pitch I hit. I guess when you see a pitch three times in a row, you going to get one to hit."
Matt Ryan led off the bottom of the seventh and barreled up on a Mincey pitch to get his first hit of the afternoon through the left side. Boullosa sacrificed him over to second, bringing up Prince. The junior shortstop dropped one behind in shallow centerfield, moving Boullosa to third for Powell. Powell reached on the fielder's choice with Ryan being called out at the plate. With Prince at second and Powell at first, C-USA Keith LeClair Coach of the Year Billy Godwin called on southpaw Kevin Brandt out of the bullpen to face Sam Honeck. With two down, Honeck drew the walk to load the bases for Jeremy Schaffer. Schaffer just missed the Brandt offering, flying out to left to keep the score 2-0 after seven full.
Zeid returned to the hill and worked the count even at 1-1 before Jones called on Preston Claiborne out of the bullpen. Zeid tossed 7.0 shutout innings, giving up seven hits while striking out two en route to his first decision since April 11 at UCF to improve his record to a perfect 6-0.
"I really wanted to give my team a chance to win," Zeid said. "My teammates pick me up time and time again and I can't thank them enough for the great plays they made. Drew Allain is an outstanding outfielder and a great hitter. He comes up big and he has been playing great and it's been a good ride so far. I think we [the seniors] all realized that we didn't want this to be our last game. We didn't want to go out of the tournament 1-2. We want to play in the NCAA Regional Tournament."
Claiborne made quick work of the Pirate batsman, with Seth Henry having the unique honor of making two ground ball outs at two different positions in the frame--one at third base and one at second--with a Claiborne strikeout sandwiched in between, to get Tulane out of the top of the eighth. Jared Dyer picked up a one-out walk and advanced to second Drew Allain's Texas-leaguer into shallow left field. With both runners on the move, Brandt retired Ryan, bringing up Boullosa with two down. Boullosa reached on an error, sending Dyer across the pay station, giving Tulane a 3-0 lead headed into the top of the ninth.
Claiborne stayed strong, picking up his third save of the season and extending Tulane's season. With the 3-0 victory, the Wave will take on Southern Miss Friday night at 7:30PM.