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Baseball Ready for West Coast Challenges at Cal Baseball Classic

TULANEGREENWAVE.COM Senior Kyle McKenzie will play a big role for the Green Wave in California this weekend
TULANEGREENWAVE.COM
Senior Kyle McKenzie will play a big role for the Green Wave in California this weekend
TULANEGREENWAVE.COM

March 6, 2014

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SAN FRANCISCO - Tulane's baseball program had a quick turnaround after this past weekend's series, getting on a plane on Tuesday morning to head out to San Francisco, as they will play in the Cal Baseball Classic against Cal, Arkansas and San Francisco on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

Friday's contest against Cal will begin at 9:00pm CT at Evans Diamond in Berkeley, Calif., while Saturday's contest at Arkansas will be held at the same park, beginning at 3:30pm CT. Sunday's contest is set for 1pm CT at Dante Benedetti Diamond at Max Ulmer Field on the campus of USF.

Live broadcasts of all three contests can be heard on the flagship station for Green Wave baseball for the 2014 season, 88.3 FM WRBH. Live audio will also be made available to All-Access pass users at TulaneGreenWave.com. Live stats can be followed at TulaneGreenWave.com.

On Wednesday, the Green Wave baseball program took a trip to Alcatraz, after practicing at USF. On Thursday morning, the team took batting practice at AT&T Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants. While the Green Wave have enjoyed their time on the West Coast, they know that this is a business trip. The Green Wave are coming off a weekend in which they dropped two of three to Sacred Heart at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium. Sitting at 8-3 on the season, Tulane is looking to bounce back in a big way against quality opponents over the weekend.

So far this season, Tulane has managed to hit .269 as a team, and is led individually by sophomore outfielder Richard Carthon's .385 batting average. Senior outfielder Andrew Garner is right behind Carthon with a .371 average, and freshman third baseman Hunter Hope (.326), senior first baseman Bowen Woodson (.324) and junior second baseman Garrett Deschamp (.316) are all well above the team average.

Carthon leads the team in runs with 13, while Deschamp has the most RBI with 15. The team has 22 doubles to their name, with Hope leading the way with four. Carthon, Garner, Deschamp and senior designated hitter Nick DiMaggio each have three.

Cal is coming into the weekend with an 8-2 record, having dropped their last contest to Stanford, 11-1, on Tuesday. That loss snapped a six-game winning streak against teams like Auburn, Baylor, San Diego, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and East Tennessee State. The Golden Bears split a four-game series against Texas to open the season.

The Golden Bears hit .241 as a team, and are led by Vince Bruno's .387 average. Devon Rodriguez is the second-leading hitter with a .286 average. As a team, Cal only has 20 extra-base hits (16 doubles, one triple, three home runs).

Tulane will look to get past Cal with redshirt senior righty Tyler Mapes on the mound. Mapes had the best outing of his career last week against Nicholls State, pitching a career-high 7.0 innings and tying a career-high in strikeouts with seven. He allowed just one hit and walked none in a 1-0 win for the Green Wave. On the season, Mapes is 2-0 with an 0.82 ERA and nine strikeouts to just one walk in 11.0 innings.

Cal will use freshman righty Daulton Jefferies to combat the Green Wave bats. Jefferies is 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA in three starts on the season. He has appeared in 16.2 innings, striking out 13 while walking five and allowing 14 hits.

The SEC's Arkansas is 7-2 so far this year, and is coming off a weekend in which they dropped two of three to South Alabama. However, the Razorbacks remain ranked in the top-25 in most of the major polls. As a team, they are hitting .285, while slugging .415. Joe Serrano is hitting .389 to pace the squad, while Brian Anderson is on his heels at .371. The Razorbacks have hit five home runs so far this season.

Redshirt junior Randy LeBlanc will get the ball for the Green Wave on Saturday. The Abita Springs, La., native has been one of the most consistent pitchers for the Green Wave this season. Last weekend, he got a no decision in Tulane's extra-innings victory against Sacred Heart, but he did tie a career-high with eight strikeouts. On the year, he leads the Green Wave with 20 punchouts, while posting a 2-0 record and a 2.00 ERA in 18.0 innings.

Sophomore southpaw Colin Poche will start for Arkansas at pitcher on Saturday. Poche has only appeared in 4.2 innings this year across three appearances. He has a 1.93 ERA and no record, while fanning five and walking four.

On Sunday, the Green Wave will square off against San Francisco. The Dons are 5-6 so far this season, splitting two games with Sacramento State earlier this week. Earlier this season, the Dons defeated then No. 2 Cal State Fullerton in a 19-inning marathon, 6-5.

The Dons are hitting .269 as a team, led by Bradley Zimmer's .420 average. Derek Atkinson (.420) and Michael Eaton (.333) are both hitting well above .300. Zimmer owns two home runs and 11 RBI, leading the team in both categories. On the basepaths, he has four stolen bases.

The pitching rotation for both teams on Sunday has yet to be set. San Francisco's team ERA is 5.28.

Tulane has never played San Francisco before, marking the second time this season they have played an opponent for the first time in the program's history (along with Arkansas-Pine Bluff). The Green Wave are 1-3, all-time, against Cal, with the teams last meeting during the 1987 season. Tulane's lone win against the Golden Bears came on March 28, 1987 at the Riverside Invitational in Riverside, Calif. The Green Wave and the Razorbacks of Arkansas have only played each other twice, with the programs splitting the contests. Tulane dropped a contest to Arkansas on Feb. 27, 1998 at the Winn Dixie Showdown after defeating back in early 1986.

There are Tulane ties to this tournament, as the athletic directors at two of the three schools have spent time in the Big Easy in the past. San Francisco's athletic director is Scott Sidwell, a former Tulane infielder, coach and associate athletic director. Sidwell played on Rick Jones first team in 1994, and he was honored alongside his '94 teammates on Alumni Weekend earlier this year. The athletic director for Cal is Sandy Barbour, who spent three years at the helm of the Green Wave athletic department in the late 1990s.

Cal is skippered by David Esquer, and Arkansas is led by Dave Van Horn. San Francisco's head coach is Nino Giarratano.

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