May 24, 2003
NEW ORLEANS, La. - Freshman right-hander Billy Mohl tossed his second complete game in as many starts, and juniors Tony Giarratano and Brian Bormaster tallied three hits each, as the Tulane University baseball team defeated Louisville in the Conference USA Tournament semifinals Saturday afternoon at Turchin Stadium.
Giarratano - the shortstop - went 3-for-5 with a home run and four RBI, and Bormaster - the catcher - went 3-for-4 with a double, but the game belonged to Mohl (6-2) who gave up three runs on six hits while striking out four and walking one in his longest outing of the season.
With the win, Tulane (43-16) advances to the C-USA Championship Game on Sunday against regular-season champ Southern Miss, who defeated East Carolina 3-1 earlier on Saturday. The game will begin at 1 p.m. and will be on Cox Sports Television on tape-delay at 7 p.m. Tickets to the championship game will be on sale in the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office in the James W. Wilson Center beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday morning. Bleacher tickets as well as standing room tickets will be sold for $10 each.
Tulane's championship game appearance will be the fifth in the eight-year history of Conference USA. The Green Wave have never lost the title game, winning in 2001, 1999, 1998 and 1996.
Mohl hit a batter in the first two innings, but faced just one more than the minimum in the first two stanzas, picking off leadoff hitter Dave Williams, Jr., for the first out of the inning. After giving up a base hit to Cardinal third baseman Ryan McKinnon - who would score on an RBI-groundout by J.T. LaFountain three hitters later - and walking nine-hole hitter Nick Haley to open the third, Mohl responded to retire the next nine Louisville batters.
The Cardinals had a pair of bloop singles to left to open the sixth, but once again, Mohl came back to get three-hole hitter Mark Jurich to fly out to left before inducing a 5-4-3 double-play off the bat of clean-up hitter Josh Bolen to get out of the inning unscathed.
Sophomore designated hitter Gerald Clark added to the Green Wave advantage with a solo home run in the sixth - his first of the year - and Tulane added an insurance run in the seventh when Bormaster singled to left, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI-single by Giarratano to give Tulane a 5-1 lead.
Louisville made things interesting in the bottom of the eighth when LaFountain hit a two-run homer to right to cut the lead to two, but as he had done all day, Mohl came back to retire the next five Cardinal hitters in order to send the Green Wave to the championship game and end Louisville's season at 34-23.
Cardinal starter Jon Harbridge, who earned the win over the Green Wave back on May 11 in a 7-5 win in Louisville, Ky., did not fare as well in his second start against Tulane as he gave up three runs on three runs on as many hits before being lifted in the sixth inning. Steve Ayers kept Tulane off the scoreboard during his outing, but the Green Wave got to Cardinal closer Carlos Fernandez, touching him up for a pair of runs on two hits in 3.0 innings of relief.
PREGAME FESTIVITIES: Conference USA baseball fans are invited to attend a pregame tailgating rally prior to the Conference USA Championship Game Sunday at Turchin Stadium. The festivities are slated to begin at noon on the Barney Mintz Practice Field next to Turchin Stadium, and run through first pitch at 1 p.m. Concessions will be available and music will be provided by WTIX-FM.