Baseball Opens Conference USA Play with Series at Louisiana Tech

TULANEGREENWAVE.COM Redshirt sophomore Alex Massey will make his first start since the 2012 season on Sunday
Redshirt sophomore Alex Massey will make his first start since the 2012 season on Sunday

Feb. 20, 2014

Tulane Notes vs. LA TechGet Acrobat Reader

NEW ORLEANS - After a solid opening-weekend that saw the Tulane baseball team sweep a four-game series over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the Green Wave have an early conference test as they travel to Ruston, La., to play new Conference USA foe Louisiana Tech in a three-game series at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.

The opening game of the series will be on Friday, Feb. 21 at 6pm CT, with game two and game three beginning at 3pm CT and 1pm CT on Saturday, Feb. 22 and Sunday, Feb. 23, respectively. Friday and Sunday's games will be broadcast on the home of Tulane baseball, 88.3 FM WRBH. Saturday's game will be streamed through the All-Access link on TulaneGreenWave.com.

Fans with a subscription to the All Access pass can listen to and watch all three games on TulaneGreenWave.com.

The Green Wave had an outstanding opening weekend in which they swept the Golden Lions at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium. Tulane notched 24 runs over the four games, while only giving up seven to UAPB. Tulane swung the bats well, collecting 32 hits and hitting .276 as a team. Of those 32 hits, ten went for extra bases (nine doubles, one triple).

Tulane found success last weekend despite starting a batch of fresh faces. Four freshmen in Stephen Alemais, Hunter Hope, Jake Rogers and Lex Kaplan started in the field for the Green Wave in the season-opener, while J.P. France took the mound for the Green Wave in the season's first contest. Tulane hadn't started five freshman on opening day since 2010. The aforementioned group of new players - as well as junior college transfers Garrett Deschamp and John Gandolfo - all fared well for the Green Wave.

Alemais batted .308 across the four contests with a double and two walks, while Deschamp batted .308 with five RBI and two doubles. Hope (.267) and Gandolfo (.250) both swung the bat well, while Rogers flashed brilliant defensive play.

In addition to the rookies, Tulane got stellar play from some veteran bats. Senior Nick DiMaggio started at designated hitter for the Green Wave in all four games, and he led the team in hitting with a .455 batting average. He also notched three doubles and five RBI to lead the way for the Green Wave. Fellow senior Bowen Woodson hit .364 while playing solid defense at first base and sophomore Richard Carthon hit .357 with three RBI.

Louisiana Tech opened the season against Southeastern Louisiana in Ruston, La., and went 1-2 in the three-game series. They lost their season-opener by a score of 4-2 in ten innings, giving former Tulane player and current Southeastern Louisiana head coach Matt Riser his first career victory as the skipper of the Lions. Game two didn't go much better for the Bulldogs, as they lost 15-6. They picked up a win on Sunday, 2-1, but needed 10 innings to do so.

At the dish, LA Tech batted .255 in the three-game series against the Lions, with Tyler Ervine (.500) Thomas Simoneaux (.375), Colby Johnson (.333) and Bre'shon Kimbell (.333) all hitting well as everyday starters. Kimbrell belted the Bulldogs' lone home run of the weekend, as well.

Tulane will send France, redshirt junior Randy LeBlanc and redshirt sophomore Alex Massey - in that order - to the hill for the three games in Ruston, La., over the weekend.

France became the first true freshman to start a season-opener at pitcher for the Green Wave since 1991 when he faced UAPB this past Friday. The Marrero, La., native was brilliant in his 7.0 innings of work, allowing only three base hits while striking out nine and walking none. France will be pitted against fellow righty Phil Maton. The junior got the ball on opening day last weekend and pitched well for the Bulldogs, going 6.0 innings with three strikeouts and one walk.

On Saturday, LeBlanc will get the ball, following one of his better performances as a member of the Green Wave. Last weekend, the Abita Springs, La., native earned the victory after fanning six and walking just one in 6.0 innings of work in Tulane's 3-1 victory in game one of last Saturday's doubleheader. LeBlanc will be matched up against southpaw Luke Giddens, who was charged with LA Tech's loss in last Saturday's 15-6 contest. Giddens walked four and allowed four earned runs in just 3.2 innings of work.

The final game of the series will see Massey make his first career start since he took the hill on May 13, 2012 in a 11-2 victory over Houston. The redshirt sophomore pitched admirably out of the bullpen last Sunday, as he struck out five over 3.0 innings for the win. Senior righty Richie Navari will pitch for the Bulldogs on Sunday. Navari threw 5.0 innings - fanning two and walking one - in a no-decision last Sunday.

Playing a conference game this early is a first, as the Green Wave have never played a conference game in the month of February before. In addition to this, Tulane has not faced LA Tech since March 23, 1988, which was a 6-4 win for the Green Wave. Despite being in the same state, the two programs have only faced each other ten times, and Tulane owns the all-time series lead, 7-3.

The two teams did face off against one another in the 1986 NCAA South Regional in Baton Rouge, with the Green Wave dropping the first meeting, 11-5 before defeating them two days later, 9-4.

Tulane is also looking to do something that they haven't done since 2008 on Friday night. With a win in the series-opener, the Green Wave will move to 5-0 to start a season for the first time since the 2008 campaign.

Louisiana Tech is skippered by Wade Simoneaux, who is in his 12th season with the Bulldogs.

Fans can follow the Tulane baseball program on Twitter (@GreenWaveBSB) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GreenWaveBaseball.