May 26, 2012
PEARL, Miss. - After leading Conference USA in fielding percentage and batting average all season, the Tulane baseball team was unable to produce enough offense and a trio of errors were costly in a 6-2 defeat to UCF in their final game at the 2012 Conference USA Championships presented by Trustmark.
It was another hotly contested game on the field for the second straight day as the Green Wave took 19th-ranked UCF into the eighth inning knotted at 2-2. In the eighth, however, UCF sent eight hitters to the plate and scored three runs against Tulane closer D.J. Ponder (2-1) to break the tie. In the inning, a pair of walks - one intentional - and a single loaded the bases with one out. Ponder struck out JoMarcos Woods for the second out of the inning, but Spencer Haynes' infield single pushed a pair of runs across the plate and Ronnie Richardson followed with a run scoring base hit to make it 5-2 in favor of the Knights.
"I was very disappointed in the last three innings," said Tulane head coach Rick Jones. "We didn't play well defensively for the second day in a row and had been stellar (all season). We have three errors today and only three hits. David (Napoli) didn't get off to a good start on the mound and struggled with his command, but I thought Alex (Massey) came in and did a really good job of stopping the bleeding and giving us a chance. Nick (Schneeberger) was stellar in the outfield again today and hit a two-run homer. But it was a disappointing day in the way we played."
After the Schneeberger longball, Hanson, Roman Madrid and Joe Rodgers combined to allow just four base runners the rest of the way for UCF.
Tulane (38-20) carried the 2-1 lead into the fourth inning before the Knights were able to push across an unearned run versus Napoli to knot the score.
The Knights added another run in the ninth versus Ponder to account for the final margin of 6-2 when Woods singled in a run with two outs in the frame.
Napoli tossed three and one-thirds innings of four hit, two-run baseball before being replaced by Alex Massey. Napoli walked five and struck out one in the no decision. Massey would toss the next three and two-thirds innings scoreless - allowing only one base runner - before Ponder relieved him to begin the eighth. Ponder allowed four runs - three earned - on three hits. The senior fanned one and walked four in one inning of work. Alex Facundus came on and recorded the final three outs of the game for the Olive and Blue.
Schneeberger did everything for the Green Wave with a home run, two RBIs and a pair of outfield assists. The senior posted his 13th and 14th outfield assists of the season when he threw out a pair of runners at home plate. Bowen Woodson was the only Tulane player to reach base twice in the game as he singled and walked. Brennan Middleton singled, Cannizaro was hit-by-pitch and Jeremy Schaffer walked to account for the TU offense.
Tulane will await their fate from the NCAA Tournament committee as the NCAA Baseball Championship field of 64 teams will be announced at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, May 28. The selection show will air live on ESPNU.