March 14, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - Before opening up Conference USA play next weekend against Memphis, Tulane will host the Western Athletic Conference's Texas-San Antonio for a three-game series this weekend at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.
Friday's contest will begin at 6:30pm CST, while Saturday's game will start at 2pm CST. The series will wrap up on Sunday, with the first pitch scheduled for 1pm CST.
"We need to have a good weekend with it being our last non-conference weekend," said Tulane baseball head coach Rick Jones. "It is important that we get some momentum going into conference play. Where we are at this point in time, we need to get some of our hitters on track. It's just a very important weekend for us."
Tulane (10-9) is coming off a week in which they lost to Southeastern Louisiana in Hammond, La., on Tuesday, 7-4, before returning home to beat the Lions 3-2 in 10 innings on Wednesday. Tulane played a marathon 12-inning contest on Sunday against High Point, coming out on top by a score of 11-10. The Greenies have played 31 innings of baseball in their last three games.
UTSA (12-5) played four games against Washington State this past weekend, going 3-1 in the series. They lost to Texas State - a foe Tulane faced earlier this year - just last week by a score of 6-0. In late February, the Roadrunners played a three-game series at Louisiana-Lafayette, being swept by the Ragin Cajuns. UTSA is 1-4 on the road this year.
Star redshirt sophomore Tony Rizzotti will return to the mound on Friday night, matching up against junior lefty Michael Kraft. Rizzotti has posted a 3-1 record on the year, allowing only four runs while striking out 25 batters in 30 innings. The Arlington, Texas, native's ERA of 1.20 is fifth best in Conference USA, while opponents are only batting .146 against him, good for second best in the conference. Rizzotti owns a WHIP of 0.67, the 16th best mark in the country. Kraft has made four starts on the year, striking out 23 in 18.1 innings. He is 1-2 with a 2.45 ERA and batters are hitting .292 against him.
On Saturday, senior righty Alex Byo will make his fourth start of the season. Byo - who pitched his first career complete game last Saturday in a 4-2 loss against High Point - owns a very respectable 1.52 ERA, notching 20 strikeouts to only four walks. He has allowed 27 hits in 29.2 innings of play this year, and he holds a record of 1-2. The Baton Rouge, La., native's counterpart will be right-hander Brock Hartson, a redshirt freshman. In four starts on the season, Hartson is 2-1 with a 2.91 ERA in 21.2 innings. He owns 13 strikeouts, with four walks, while giving up 26 hits.
As has been the case for the past few Sunday's, Tulane will decide on game day who they will start on the mound. However, UTSA has penciled in freshman lefty Nolan Trabanino to take the mound during the series finale. Trabanino has notched a 2.25 ERA in five appearances, starting three contests. In 24 innings, he has struck out 20 batters, while walking only two.
Tulane's pitchers and fielders will need to be at their best this weekend, as UTSA is fourth in the nation in hitting, with a team average of .338, and second in the nation overall in hits with 205. They are led at the plate by Daniel Rockett, who is batting a brisk .553. He was first in the nation in batting average last week, but is not eligible to be listed in the nation's leaders since he has played in only 12 of the team's 17 games. Rockett has added three home runs and 15 RBI on the year as well.
Tulane senior Brennan Middleton owns a batting average of .359, the seventh best clip in Conference USA. He also leads the league with 28 hits. Senior Sean Potkay is tied for the conference lead in doubles with seven, and he is batting .281 for the second best spot on the team. Junior Andrew Garner's 15 RBIs are tied for second best in the conference. As a team, the Greenies are batting .252 - up from .246 just one week ago.
Senior Garrett Cannizaro returned to the field Wednesday night after manning the designated hitter role on Tuesday. He sat out the final two games of the High Point series with a strained muscle, and got his first career start in right field against Southeastern Louisiana on Tuesday.
Freshman Richard Carthon has made a name for himself during the last week, as he has led the team with a .438 batting average over the last five games. After collecting only five hits through his first twelve games, he has notched seven in the last five.
Tulane's pitching staff should be a little deeper this weekend, as many of the arms were not available on Tuesday and Wednesday due to the 12-inning game last Sunday. Freshman Ian Gibaut - last week's Louisiana Sports Writers Association Pitcher of the Week - is sure to see some action out of the bullpen, as is fellow freshmen Daniel Rankin and Emerson Gibbs. Both Rankin and Gibbs pitched in Tulane's 3-2 victory over Southeastern Louisiana on Wednesday.
Six other starters for the Roadrunners have batting averages above .300: Tony Ramirez (.383), RJ Perucki (.380), Riley Good (.363), Mike Warren (.350), John Bormann (.313) and John Welborn (.305). Perucki is also tied for eighth in the nation with five home runs, and is tied for 12th in the nation with 22 RBIs.
UTSA is skippered by first year head coach Jason Marshall. After serving as an assistant and associate head coach at UTSA for 12 years, he was named the fourth head coach in the history of the program this past June.
The two programs have never faced one another, marking the fourth time this season Tulane has faced an opponent for the first time. UTSA will join Conference USA next year, meaning the two schools will more than likely play each other again next season.
All three contests against UTSA will all be broadcast on Tulane's flagship station, 106.1 The Ticket. Live stats will be made available on TulaneGreenWave.com.
You can follow the Tulane baseball program on Twitter (@GreenWaveBSB) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GreenWaveBaseball.