June 7, 2005
NEW ORLEANS, La. - It was a game that was delayed by over 24 hours, took four hours and 10 minutes to play from start to finish, and was delayed an hour due to lightning, but for the top-ranked Tulane University baseball team, it was all worth it as the Green Wave defeated second-seeded Alabama, 7-4, in the championship game of the 2005 New Orleans Regional Monday evening at Turchin Stadium.
Sophomore Mark Hamilton - who was named Regional Most Outstanding Player after hitting .667 (8-for-12) with three doubles, three home runs and 11 RBI - hit a pair of doubles and drove in two, and senior catcher Greg Dini went 2-for-3 with a two-RBI double and a two-run homer. On the mound, junior right-hander Micah Owings (10-4) provided the Green Wave with a gutsy 7.0-inning effort, striking out six while giving up four runs (three earned) on nine hits.
"Dini's home run was a big blow," Tulane head coach Rick Jones said. "It stretched the lead, put us in a position where we got into their bullpen a little bit more.
"At the end, my concern was not just Alabama, but the ball was going to be wet. I thought (senior shortstop Tommy) Manzella did a great job getting the last out in the eighth, getting a good handle on the ball. The ball was very wet. You just worry about those kinds of things, but it worked out for us."
With the win, Tulane improves to 53-9 on the year and advances to the NCAA Super Regional where it will take on Baton Rouge Regional champion Rice for the right to play in the 2005 College World Series. Alabama, meanwhile, concludes its season at 40-23.
Tulane held a 5-4 advantage after six and a half innings, but Hamilton worked a seven-pitch at-bat into a walk, and Dini hammered a 1-0 offering from Tide reliever Wade LeBlanc over the wall in left center to account for the final score. From there, sophomore reliever Daniel Latham retired all six men he faced, including a pair of strikeouts, to earn his third save in as many appearances in the regional and 12th of the season.
"We've (answered opponent scoring) most of the season and it's because we're a veteran club that's talented," Jones said. "We don't press too much. Next week, we'll see how it goes. We get down a run or two and we seem to respond in a positive way. You have to have the ability to do that, but you also need guys who have experience. Our guys have always enjoyed playing nine innings."
Alabama got on the board in the opening stanza as left fielder Gabe Scott doubled and Welch followed with a two-bagger of his own, but the Green Wave answered in the home half of the inning as junior right fielder Brian Bogusevic lifted a sacrifice fly to center and Hamilton's posted his first double of the day to take a 2-1 advantage.
Following a scoreless second, the Crimson Tide plated a pair in the third on a two-run double by Welch, but once again, Tulane had an answer in the bottom of the frame. Manzella, Owings and Bogusevic opened the stanza with consecutive singles, Hamilton hit an RBI-grounder to first and Dini clubbed a two-run double to right central to make it 5-3.
Welch helped the Tide cut the lead to one with a two-out, RBI-double in the fifth, but Dini's homer in the seventh blew the game wide open. Lightning in the area caused the game to be halted for an hour, but Latham came on to start the eighth and retired the side in order over the final two innings to spark the Green Wave celebration.
Owings, meanwhile, was a bulldog on the mound for the Green Wave all night. After giving up a run in the first and two more in the third, he tossed a scoreless fourth, gave up just one run in the fifth, pitched his way around a one-out triple in the sixth and hung another zero in the seventh before giving way to Latham.
"Micah's a guy that if you're going to beat him, you'll get him in one inning, and that was the third when we bobbled a ball," Jones said. "After that, he got stronger. If you watched him in the seventh, he ran that fast ball and it had life on it. I thought Micah Owings did such a great job. When we had the delay (in the seventh), he was probably going to come out anyway; he was up around 122 (pitches). Daniel Latham, boy was he good; three saves in three (games) and his stuff was outstanding."
The Tulane/Rice Super Regional will be played next weekend, and the Green Wave will once again serve as the host institution. The NCAA will announce game dates and locations on Tuesday at 11 a.m (CDT) on NCAAsports.com and on ESPN2s Bottom Line.
2005 NCAA New Orleans Regional All-Tournament Team
C - Greg Dini, Tulane
1B - Zac Welch, Alabama
2B - Gene Filyaw, Southern
3B - Brad Emaus, Tulane
SS - Cale Iorg, Alabama
OF - Mark Hamilton, Tulane
OF - Nathan Southard, Tulane
OF - John Coker, Louisiana-Lafayette
DH - Micah Owings, Tulane
P - Brian Bogusevic, Tulane
P - Wade LeBlanc,Alabama
Most Outstanding Player -Mark Hamilton, Tulane
NOTES: Tulane's win over Alabama marked the second consecutive Regional title for the Green Wave and the third in school history (2001)...the Green Wave will be making their third appearance in the Super Regionals, and holds a 2-3 lifetime mark in that round of NCAA play since its inception in 1999...Nathan Southard's single in the first inning marked the sixth consecutive game the junior centerfielder led off the game with a base hit...as a team, the Green Wave hit .398 (45-for-113) with a .690 slugging percentage on the strength of 12 doubles and seven home runs in the Regional...the pitching staff, meanwhile, limited opponents to a .288 batting average (30-for-104) while posting 22 strikeouts and 13 walks...sophomore reliever Daniel Latham posted his third save of the New Orleans Regional on Monday, which set a team Regional record...in the Regional, Latham walked the first man he faced in Friday's 17-7 win over Southern, and retired the final 15 men he faced in the tournament...his 12 saves in 2005 ranks tied for second in Tulane single-season history (Joey Charron, 2003), and with 18 saves in two years, ranks fourth in the career record book.