June 13, 2005
NEW ORLEANS, La. - Sophomore left fielder Mark Hamilton and senior designated hitter Scott Madden posted two hits each and sophomore reliever Daniel Latham gave up just one earned run over the final three innings as the top-ranked Tulane University baseball team defeated No. 7 Rice, 9-6, in game three of the 2005 NCAA New Orleans Super Regional in front of a record-crowd of 4,708 Monday afternoon at Turchin Stadium.
The Green Wave trailed 3-2 after six innings of play, but following a scoreless seventh, Tulane exploded for four runs in the top of the eighth, including a two-run single by junior right fielder Brian Bogusevic. The Owls took advantage of an error and three hits in the bottom of the inning to tie the game, but the Green Wave answered in the top of the ninth with three runs of its own, and Latham (2-0) retired the side in order in the bottom of the frame to spark the Green Wave celebration.
"What a great ballgame; one of the most intense I've ever been a part of," Tulane head coach Rick Jones said. "It was a game with good pitching and defense early, and timely hits on both clubs' part late. We had to play great baseball to beat an outstanding Rice team today.
"The same cast of guys who have been doing it all year for us, did it again today. It would have been a shame if this club had not had a chance to compete in the College World Series. Regardless of what happens there, to be preseason ranked where we were (No. 1) - which was a first time for us here - to go through the season playing the toughest schedule we've ever played and go 55-10, beat an outstanding Alabama team twice (in the NCAA New Orleans Regional) and beat an outstanding Rice team twice (in the Super Regional), that shows it has been a great year."
Tulane jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first on a two-run double by senior catcher Greg Dini, but Rice got a solo homer from first baseman Adam Rodgers in the second, an RBI-single off the bat of second baseman Greg Buchanan in the third and a solo home run from designated hitter Danny Lehmann in the sixth to place the Green Wave nine outs from a season-ending loss.
The Green Wave, however, stared adversity in the face...and adversity blinked first. Junior first baseman Micah Owings sparked the eighth-inning rally by getting hit by a pitch, and Hamilton followed with a single. A wild pitch by Rice starter Eddie Degerman allowed the runners to advance to second and third, and Bogusevic dribbled a base hit back through the box to give Tulane a 4-3 lead. From there, Madden ripped a double to the gap in left center to extend the lead, and senior second baseman Joe Holland followed with an RBI-double of his own to put Tulane on top 6-3.
The lead was short-lived, though, as Rice centerfielder Tyler Henley and Buchanan singled to open the bottom of the eighth, and shortstop Josh Rodriguez cut the lead to two on a ground ball to third. Rodrigueuz reached on the play via error, a sacrifice bunt by Rodgers put a pair of runners in scoring position, Lehmann lifted a sacrifice fly to center and right fielder Lance Pendleton ripped a double to left that Hamilton lost in the high sky to tie the game at 6-all.
Facing just the third tie game after eight innings all season, the Green Wave put Rice's answer behind them and came out swinging in the ninth as reserve third baseman Cat Everett, who replaced starter Brad Emaus in the bottom of the eighth, ripped a leadoff single to right center and senior shortstop Tommy Manzella followed with a base hit through the right side of the infield.
Facing a possible bunt situation to move the runners into scoring position, Owings ripped the first pitch from Owls' reliever Adam Hale over the head of Rice's Rodriguez to give Tulane a 7-6 lead it would not relinquish. Two pitching changes, a base hit and a double-play later, Tulane plated another two runs, and Latham sat down the only three Rice hitters he faced in the bottom of the inning to punch the Green Wave's ticket to Omaha.
"We played a lot of close games this year," Jones said. "This club early in the year was opportunistic offensively. We are much better offensively now than we were in the first two and a half months of the season. We were a team that pitched and played `D,' so we were in a lot of close games like this."
After giving up the two runs in the first inning, Degermann was stellar over the next six innings when he scattered three hits while keeping the Green Wave off the scoreboard. In the seventh, however, he got touched up for three runs, but did not factor in the decisision. Hale was tagged with the loss after giving up a pair of runs on three hits in 1/3 of an inning or relief.
Tulane returns to action on Saturday, June 18, when the Green Wave take on the winner of the NCAA Corvallis Super Regional between Southern Cal and host Oregon State, and the game time for that contest is yet to be determined. The College World Series runs through the final weekend of June and the winner of the best-of-three championship series will be claimed national champions.