June 3, 2006
OXFORD, Miss. - With the Green Wave's season on the line, seniors Billy Mohl and Nathan Southard made sure the show would go on as the Tulane University baseball team defeated Bethune-Cookman College, 12-7, Saturday afternoon in an elimination game of the 2006 NCAA Oxford Regional at Ole Miss' Swayze Field.
Mohl struck out five in 8.0 strong innings, and Southard went 2-for-2 with a double, two sacrifice flies and four RBI in the win. The Green Wave wasted little time jumping on the Wildcats, scoring two in the first and four in the second. Tulane led 7-3 after five innings, but hung a five-spot in the top of the sixth and held off a late rally by Bethune-Cookman to post a win in NCAA Regional play for the ninth consecutive season.
"It was a stay-alive day and we were able to do that," Tulane head coach Rick Jones said. "As I said to our guys, at the end of the day, there's only going to be 48, then 32, and we're working hard to be in there when it's 16.
"We're in that 48 now and the reason is because we had a good day on the mound with Billy, we played well defensively and we swung the bats better. We took advantage of things, and balls yesterday that might not have found eyes did. We put some good swings on them, put the pressure on them and we did what we had to do."
With the win, Tulane improves to 42-20 on the year and will take on the loser of tonight's Ole Miss/South Alabama game on Sunday, June 4, at 1 p.m. If the Green Wave win that contest, they will play again on Sunday at 5 p.m. against the winner of the Rebels/Jaguars contest and give themselves an opportunity to play for the Regional championship on Monday at 7 p.m. Bethune-Cookman, meanwhile, concludes its season at 30-27.
Southard was part of a 13-hit Tulane attack as the Green Wave's top three hitters in the lineup combined to go 8-for-14 and the 5-6-7 hitters joined forces to go 5-for-12. Senior left fielder Matt Riser and sophomore shortstop Cat Everett tied for the team lead with three hits each. Southard led all players with four RBI while Riser, redshirt-freshman right fielder Warren McFadden and sophomore second baseman Brad Emaus each drove in a pair.
"I came in the game and knew we had to win an elimination game," Mohl said. "I'm also a senior and if we don't win, it could be my last time putting this jersey on so that motivated me more than anything. Fortunately, the wind was pretty dead out there so I could leave a ball up and not get hurt with it. My whole game plan was to try and let them get themselves out and it worked to my advantage today."
Everett and McFadden got things going early for the Green Wave with back-to-back, one-out singles in the first, and following a walk to junior first baseman Mark Hamilton to load the bases, Southard lifted a sacrifice fly to right to give Tulane a 1-0 lead it would not relinquish.
Emaus capped a two-run first with an RBI-single through the right side of the infield, and junior catcher Ty Wallace sparked a four-run second by getting plunked by a BCC starter Dustin Blackwell offering with one away. Following the hit batsman, Riser singled and Everett hit a shot down the first-base line that BCC first baseman Rob Caruso could not handle, and that allowed Wallace to score all the way from second.
McFadden followed with a two-run double to left center, and following a Hamilton groundout which allowed McFadden to advance to third, Southard dropped a bunt down the first-base line and beat Caruso to the bag to plate to make it a 6-0 ballgame.
Bethune-Cookman got on the board in the third as the Wildcats loaded the bases on a single by centerfielder Jose Ortiz, a walk by shortstop Chris Henault and a hit-by-pitch issued to right fielder Nabil Sagbini. Catcher Jorge Mico followed with a two-run single to center, but Mohl retired the next two batters to get out of the inning without any more damage done.
The two teams traded runs over the next two innings as Southard plated Everett from first with an RBI-double in the fourth and BCC designated hitter Alejandro Jimenez plated Mico from first with a double in the fifth.
From there, however, Tulane all but put the game away in the sixth when the Green Wave loaded the bases, Southard lifted a sacrifice fly to center, Emaus and junior designated hitter Tim Guidry posted RBI singles, and Riser smoked a two-run single through the left side of the infield to make it a 12-3 ballgame.
The Wildcats got a run in the eighth on a one-out, RBI-single by Caruso, and made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth when centerfielder Jose Ortiz reached on a leadoff error, Henault walked and Sagbini hammered a three-run homer to right center off of Tulane reliever Matt Goebel to cut the led to five.
Goebel walked the next two batters he faced, but bounced back to get Caruso to hit into a 3-6-1 double play and left fielder Colin Irvine to fly out to left to spark the Tulane celebration.
"(Goebel) is a senior and was our Friday night guy as a freshman, but he is just coming off surgery," Jones said. "He probably would have come out a batter before, but he bleeds green, and I don't think anyone on the team is more of a competitor. He was able to make a good pitch, and he was so quick getting to first to turn the double play."
The Wildcats used seven pitchers on the day, and Blackwell was saddled with the loss after giving up five runs (four earned) on four hits and a walk though an inning and a third. The Green Wave scored two runs on three hits and three walks off the first man out of the bullpen, Francisco Rodriguez, and plated five on three hits and a pair of walks against Francisco Gomez