May 24, 2013
HOUSTON - Another outstanding pitching performance from senior Alex Byo, and a heads up defensive play in the seventh inning by freshman Tim Yandel, allowed Tulane's baseball team to outlast ECU, 6-5, in their second game of the Conference USA Championship at Reckling Park on Friday afternoon in Houston.
Giving Tulane (29-28) an opportunity to preserve their bullpen should they need arms on Saturday - and potentially Sunday - Byo (6-4) pitched 8.1 innings, pitching 8.0 innings or more for the fourth time this season. He allowed 12 hits and five earned runs while only striking out one, but his reliability on the mound gave Tulane baseball head coach Rick Jones the opportunity to rest his bullpen while watching one of his seniors pitch another masterful performance.
"We were going to take Alex (Byo) out after the seventh, but he said `coach, I am fresh,'" stated Jones. "He then got four straight outs before we went and got him before Ian (Gibaut) gave us a great effort."
On top of Byo's solid game, Yandel made the play of the game in the top of the seventh when Tulane had a one run lead. With the score at 5-4 in favor of the Green Wave, ECU's (30-26) Chase McDonald loaded the bases on a bloop single with one out. With a speedy Drew Reynolds representing the tying run on third base, ECU's Ben Fultz lifted a drive into right field that surely would have scored two - or more - runs. However, Yandel made an outstanding diving catch to rob Fultz of a hit. Despite making the grab, Reynolds thought he had tagged up to score on a sacrifice fly. However, Yandel tossed the ball into the infield, and an appeal at third proved that Reynolds did not tag up, as third base umpire Darrin Sealey called Reynolds out, deflating ECU's hopes in later innings.
"You cannot put a price tag on Timmy's play in right field," added Jones. "It was a game saver for us. I think (the umpire) made the correct call."
As a team, the Green Wave collected nine hits, while ECU notched 14, giving them just their fourth win while being outhit this season.
Byo retired the first two batters in each of the first and second innings before plunking Zach Houchins in the first and walking Chase McDonald before Luke Lowery singled with two outs in the second. However, Byo was able to work through the momentary lapse of command, getting out of both innings without any true damage done.
In the bottom of the second, ECU starter David Lucroy struck junior Andrew Garner with a pitch, and he advanced to second on a wild pitch. After one out, Garner advanced to third on the second wild pitch of the inning issued by Lucroy (4-2). Junior Bowen Woodson lined a single up the middle to score Garner for the game's first run. Freshman Cameron Burns reached on a fielder's choice, where an error up the middle of the infield couldn't get Woodson out at second to end the inning. Lucroy then hit freshman Richard Carthon to load the bases, but they were all stranded as Lucroy notched his third strikeout of the contest.
Tulane got into their first real trouble in the top of the third when Byo allowed back-to-back singles to Bryan Bass and Drew Reynolds to put runners on the corners. Houchins brought Bass home on a fielder's choice to tie the game with one out. Houchins swiped second despite an on-the-money throw by Burns. Byo struck ECU's Chase McDonald out, but then gave up a single to Ben Fultz that scored Houchins from second, giving ECU their first lead of the contest.
Senior Brandon Boudreaux recorded his first hit of the game when he singled to right field to lead off the bottom of the third. He swiped second base and moved to third when ECU's catcher made an errant throw to second. After Cannizaro was hit by a pitch, Garner brought Boudreaux home to tie the game on a sacrifice fly to right field. Cannizaro stole second base, and came home to give Tulane the lead on a single by Potkay that ran Lucroy off the mound for good. Brent Mabry relieved Lucroy, who got ECU out of the jam.
Woodson notched his first triple of the season when he belted a shot to right center to lead off the bottom of the fourth. Burns brought him home to double Tulane's lead on a sacrifice fly to right field.
Boudreaux was hit on the backside from a pitch delivered from Mabry to open the bottom of the fifth, and he went to fifth on a double by Cannizaro. Mabry then hit Garner to load the bases. Potkay hit a fielder's choice right up the middle that would have been a hit had ECU's Reinheimer not made a diving snag and flip of the ball to second base for the force out at second. With Boudreaux scoring, it made four straight innings where the leadoff batter scored for the Green Wave.
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Middleton doubled to right field, but only after ECU's first baseman dropped a foul pop up. However, Middleton stayed put as Mabry was able to retire the next Green Wave batter on a fly out to center field.
Lowery tripled into the corner in right field with the first at-bat of the seventh inning. Chris Gosik doubled down the left field line to score Lowery, cutting Tulane's lead to just two runs. Gosik was cut down at third on a fielder's choice by Bass for the first out of the frame. Reynolds doubled to right field to put two runners in scoring position. A bouncing single right over Cannizaro's head scored a run before McDonald recorded a bloop single into right field to load the bases. Fultz sent a shot to right field that was caught by a Yandel before the appeal was made at third on Reynolds..
With just a one run lead in the bottom of the eighth, Tulane added an insurance run to make the score 6-4. Burns took first base on a two-out walk, and Carthon singled to move him to third. Cannon came up throwing from right field, and the ball sailed into Tulane's dugout, giving each runner an extra two bases, scoring Burns and putting Carthon at third.
Byo returned to the mound for the top of the ninth even after throwing a slew pitches prior to the inning. He got Gosik to ground to Woodson at second base for the first out before allowing a single to left field off the bat of Bass. Freshman closer Ian Gibaut came to the mound to replace Byo. Gibaut got Reynolds to ground out to second for the second out before Houchins hit an RBI single through the left side to cut Tulane's lead to one run. Another single by McDonald moved pinch runner Philip Clark to third base, putting the tying run only 90 feet away. A line drive off the bat of Fultz ended the contest, though, to keep Tulane's chances of playing in the Championship game on Sunday alive.
Gibaut earned his 12th save of the season, extending his freshman-season record in the category. Boudreaux, Woodson and Carthon were the only multi-hit players for the Green Wave on the afternoon.
The Greenies will return to Reckling Park on Saturday for a 3pm tilt against Houston. The game will be broadcast on 88.3 FM WRBH, and live stats will be made available through TulaneGreenWave.com.
Fans can follow the Tulane baseball program on Twitter (@GreenWaveBSB) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GreenWaveBaseball.