May 26, 2006
HOUSTON, Texas - Conference USA Freshman of the Year Warren McFadden hit an RBI-single up the middle with one out in the 10th inning, and junior right-hander Daniel Latham tossed an inning and two-thirds of scoreless relief as the Tulane University baseball team eliminated East Carolina in the 2006 C-USA Tournament Friday afternoon at Rice's Reckling Park.
With the win, Tulane avenged a 4-2 C-USA Tourney opening loss to the Pirates on Wednesday and improved to 41-18 on the year. The Green Wave advance to play Houston on Saturday at 9 a.m. Tulane will have to defeat the Cougars twice to advance to Sunday's championship game. East Carolina (33-26) was eliminated from the C-USA Tournament, and will have to wait until the NCAA announces the 64-team Regional field on Monday at 11:30 a.m. (CDT) on ESPN.
"It was a really good ballgame, and we played all three phases today," Tulane head coach Rick Jones said. "We had 10 hits as they did. We got the timely one. We were tremendous defensively, and our pitching was outstanding."
With the score tied at 1-all after nine, senior left fielder Matt Riser singled just under the glove of reserve second baseman Drew Schieber, and sophomore shortstop Cat Everett dropped a sacrifice bunt down the first-base line to move Riser into scoring position.
McFadden had a bit of a tough day, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in his first four trips to the plate, and after falling behind 0-2 to Pirates reliever T.J. Hose, he fouled off a pitch, took one high and laced the fifth pitch of the at-bat up the middle for what proved to be the game-winner.
"Mac's hitting in the three hole for a reason," Jones said. "He's had so many big two-strike hits for us and so many big RBI for us this year. You're going to have a day. (Starter Shane Mathews) was pitching to him with that slide ball and did a good job. He was really on top of his game, and he made some great pitches to Mac. They went out there one too many times, and (McFadden) went with the pitch."
"We had battled all game, and we had two great pitching performances when I went into the game," Latham said. "I threw one pitch in the ninth inning and got the double play ball. That's just great defense right there for us. Going into the last inning, I knew if I threw strikes, my defense would be there as they have been all year."
Junior first baseman Mark Hamilton, who was named C-USA Player of the Year on Tuesday, led all players with three hits, and sophomore second baseman Brad Emaus went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and an RBI.
Lost in the late-inning theatrics was a solid performance by Tulane starter Billy Mohl, who struck out four while allowing one run on seven hits through six innings on the hill. Sophomore right-hander Trey Martin fanned two and gave up a pair of hits over the next two and a third before giving way to Latham.
After a scoreless first, ECU left fielder Ryan Tousley and first baseman Stephen Batts hit back-to-back singles to open the second. Third baseman Jacob Dean tried to sacrifice the runners into scoring position, but Mohl pounced off the mound to get the lead runner at third. A single by centerfielder Jay Mattox drove in Batts from third, but that would be the only run allowed by the Green Wave all day.
The Pirates had other opportunities to score but wound up stranding nine runners on base, including four in scoring position.
Mathews faced just one more than the minimum over the first three innings, but the Green Wave got things going in the fourth. Hamilton sparked a two-out rally with a single, senior centerfielder Nathan Southard followed with a walk, and Emaus tied the game in the ensuing at-bat when he scorched a double to left.
The Green Wave wound up leaving the bases loaded that inning, and like East Carolina, stranded seven on base for the day. The difference in the ballgame was the Tulane bullpen's ability to keep the Pirates off the board after the second and McFadden's seeing-eye single in the top of the 10th.
"You just keep putting the ball in the play and eventually something is going to fall for you is what you keep thinking," Jones said. "But we've talked about it many times. Mac's hit doesn't matter if we don't play great defense, and we don't pitch. And we've done that all year to give ourselves a chance to win those games late with a timely hit."
Hose (3-4) was tagged with the loss after giving up a run on two hits in an inning and a third of work. Mathews gave East Carolina a solid effort during his time on the hill, striking out seven and walking three while allowing one run on eight hits.