Feb. 28, 2014
NEW ORLEANS - After a four-game road swing, the Tulane baseball team will return to the friendly confines of Greer Field at Turchin Stadium as they host Sacred Heart in a three-game series on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, with all three games beginning at 1 p.m. CT.
Friday and Sunday's contest will be broadcast on the home of Tulane baseball for the 2014 season, 88.3 FM WRBH. Live audio and video will be available for all three contests through the All-Access pass at TulaneGreenWave.com.
Live stats will be made available for all three games through GameTracker at TulaneGreenWave.com.
Weather-related travel issues are keeping Sacred Heart from getting down to New Orleans before Friday's originally scheduled opener, hence the change in dates for the series.
Tulane is off to one of the better starts of the last few seasons, as they currently sit at 7-1. They won a nail-biter in Thibodaux, La., on Tuesday evening against in-state rival Nicholls State by a score of 1-0, thanks in large part to stellar pitching from redshirt senior Tyler Mapes. Prior to that, the Green Wave took two of three from Conference USA opponent Louisiana Tech in Ruston, La.
On the season, the Green Wave are hitting .291, and they own an astounding 17 doubles in just eight contests this year. They are led at the plate by sophomore left fielder Richard Carthon, who is batting .429 with three doubles and the squad's lone triple on the season. Behind Carthon, senior right fielder Andrew Garner (.364), senior first baseman Bowen Woodson (.348), junior second baseman Garrett Deschamp (.345) and freshman third baseman Hunter Hope (.324) are all hitting well over .300. The team is slugging .413.
Sacred Heart has yet to play a game this season, but finished the 2013 campaign with a record of 34-24, including a Northeast Conference record of 23-9. Senior catcher Dan Perez is the Pioneer's top returning hitter, as he batted .313 with 11 doubles, three home runs and 28 RBI in 2013. Sophomore infielder Jesus Medina is the second-leading returning hitter with an average of .282. As a team last season, they hit .281.
On Saturday, freshman J.P. France will return to the mound for the Green Wave, looking to bounce back from a performance at Louisiana Tech where he allowed five earned runs across 4.0 innings. The previous week, the Archbishop Shaw graduate had one of the best debut performances when he fanned nine across 7.0 innings, while walking none in a Green Wave victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. On the season, France is 1-0 with a 4.09 ERA, with 12 strikeouts and no walks.
France will be up against senior righty Kody Kerski from Sacred Heart. Kerski started 11 contests for the Pioneers last season, notching a 7-2 record with an ERA of 2.57 in 73.2 innings of work. He struckout 63 batters while walking just 25.
One of Tulane's two 2-0 starters will get the ball for Sunday's matchup, as redshirt junior Randy LeBlanc hopes to keep his winning streak intact. The Abita Springs, La., native has posted back-to-back six strikeout performances in his starts against Louisiana Tech and UAPB. The righty has only walked three batters and has allowed just nine hits so far this season.
For Sacred Heart, junior southpaw Nick Leiningen will get the start. Like Kerski, Leiningen started 11 games in 2013, but Leiningen didn't fare as well as his pitching mate. The lefty went 6-4 with a 4.77 ERA in 2013, while striking out 40 and walking 36.
On Monday, redshirt sophomore Alex Massey will start for the Green Wave, one week from making his first start in over a year-and-a-half. The righty struggled against Louisiana Tech, allowing five runs in just 2.2 innings of work. However, the previous week, Massey came out of the bullpen and struck out five over 3.0 innings to pick up the victory over UAPB.
On the mound for Sacred Heart on Monday will be another lefty, as junior Jeff Stoddard will get the start for the Pioneers. Stoddard led the Pioneers in 2013 in starts with 12, and he posted an 8-3 record during the season. Stoddard fanned 48 batters and walked 16 in 78.1 innings, earning an ERA of 2.64.
Tulane has only faced Sacred Heart three times, with all three of those contests coming during a March weekend series during the 2008 season. Tulane won all three of those games.
Tulane baseball head coach Rick Jones is just 15 wins shy of 1,000 career Division I wins, as he picked up number 985 against Nicholls State this past Tuesday.
Sacred Heart's head coach is Nick Giaquinto, who is 526-628-2 in his 25 years as head coach of the Pioneers, and he has taken his team to the NCAA Regionals three times since Sacred Heart joined Division I in 2000. Giaquinto was a running back for the Miami Dolphins under Hall of Fame coach Don Shula before joining the Washington Redskins under Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs. Giaquinto won a Super Bowl with the Redskins, and rushed for 178 yards on 40 carries with a touchdown while adding 65 receptions for 722 yards and three scores as one of the NFL's first-ever true `H-backs'.
The athletic director for Sacred Heart is former Major League Baseball player and former Texas Rangers, New York Mets and Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine.
Fans can follow the Tulane baseball program on Twitter (@GreenWaveBSB) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GreenWaveBaseball.