Conference USA Series Against Marshall In Store for Baseball Over Weekend

TULANEGREENWAVE.COM Freshman Hunter Hope is hitting one point lower than team pacesetter Richard Carthon
Freshman Hunter Hope is hitting one point lower than team pacesetter Richard Carthon

March 27, 2014

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NEW ORLEANS - Coming off one of the bigger wins in recent memory, the Tulane baseball team hopes to carry that momentum into a three-game Conference USA series against Marshall at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston, W. Va. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The Green Wave will play at 5pm CT on Friday and 8am CT on Saturday. The two teams will play a nationally-televised contest on Sunday at 9am CT on Fox Sports 2 (check your local listings for channel information). All three games will be broadcast on the home of Tulane baseball for the 2014 season, 88.3 FM WRBH.

Live stats can also be followed through the GameTracker links on TulaneGreenWave.com's baseball schedule page.

On Tuesday, the Green Wave hosted and upset No. 4 LSU at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium, giving the Tulane baseball program their first win against a top-five ranked team since they defeated No. 2 LSU, 8-7, on April 1, 2009. With the score tied at two with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning, Tulane sophomore outfielder Richard Carthon slapped a single into right field that scored freshman second baseman Jake Willsey from second base for the Green Wave's second walk-off win in the 11th inning in three games.

This past weekend, the Green Wave took two of three from Conference USA opponent Middle Tennessee. On Friday, Tulane bested the Blue Raiders in a 2-0 shutout before defeating them 2-1 in 11 innings when freshman shortstop Stephen Alemais walked with the bases loaded to bring in the winning run. On Sunday, the Blue Raiders broke a four-all tie in the later innings on a solo home run to give Tulane their lone loss of the weekend.

On the season, Tulane sits at 13-11 overall, and the squad has posted a 5-4 record in C-USA play. The Green Wave took two of three from Louisiana Tech during the second weekend of the season before dropping two of three at East Carolina two weekends ago.

Timely hitting is all that matters, and the Green Wave have done just that in recent days with their two walk-off wins. As a team, though, the Green Wave are batting .237, with 38 doubles, three triples and six home runs. Carthon still leads the team with a .314 average, but freshman Hunter Hope's average has climbed in recent days and now sits just one point below the team's pacesetter. Freshman second baseman Jake Willsey, who has made ten straight starts at second base, is hitting .350 in 40 at-bats.

Marshall is coming off a 4-0 loss to Ohio State on Wednesday night in Columbus, Ohio. This past weekend, the Thundering Herd were swept by No. 30 Florida International in Miami. On the season, Marshall is 6-16 overall and 3-6 in league play.

The Thundering Herd is hitting .208 as a team, and are led by Cory Garratazu's .321 batting average. Chase Vogelbach is hitting .278, and Corey Bird is batting .268. Vogelbach paces the team with 11 runs, and Eric Escobedo leads the team with 11 RBI. Marshall, as a team, is slugging just .254.

On Friday, the Green Wave will send redshirt senior Tyler Mapes to the mound. Mapes has outdone himself time and time again this season, with last weekend being his most complete start. Tying a career-high 7.0 innings, Mapes fanned a career-high eight batters in a 2-0 win over Middle Tennessee. Mapes has started two of the three shutouts for the Green Wave this season. On the year, the Plano, Texas, native has posted a team-high four wins (4-0) with a 1.35 ERA, 21 strikeouts, three walks and 25 hits in 26.2 innings pitched.

Tulane's starter for Saturday on the hill will be redshirt junior Randy LeBlanc. Last weekend, LeBlanc didn't put up tremendous numbers, as he allowed nine hits to Middle Tennessee, but he was able to only give up one run in a no-decision for him. The Abita Springs, La., native has been solid, otherwise, throwing 34.2 innings on the year for a 2-1 record and a 2.60 ERA. LeBlanc leads Tulane starters with 29 strikeouts, and has walked just eight while giving up 36 hits.

The Green Wave coaching staff has not named a starting pitcher for Sunday, but will more than likely use either freshman J.P. France or sophomore Emerson Gibbs, depending on how the first two contests play out. France was Tulane's opening day pitcher, but has been used mostly in relief as of late after last starting against East Carolina on March 15. On the season, France is 2-2 with a 5.00 ERA with 28 strikeouts, five walks and 27 hits in 27.0 innings.

Gibbs began the season in the pen, and was the Sunday starter last weekend against the Blue Raiders, giving up four runs on seven hits in 4.0 innings. On the season, the River Ridge, La., native owns a 1-2 record with a 5.00 ERA in 27.0 innings of work. He owns 17 strikeouts and 10 walks on the year to go along with 34 hits.

Marshall has not solidified a pitching rotation for the weekend yet, but through the first six weeks of the season, three righties in Josh King, Michael Taylor and Matt Margaritonda have manned the mound for the Thundering Herd during the weekend series. King leads the starters in ERA (2.60) and stirkeouts (28) as well as hits allowed (30) in 34.2 innings of work. He owns a 2-2 record. Taylor has gone 1-5 through the first six weeks of the season with a 3.56 ERA in 30.1 innings. He has fanned 15, and has walked the same amount. Margaritonda is 2-3 with a 3.93 ERA in 34.1 innings with 32 strikeouts and 17 walks.

Opponents are hitting .231 off King, while hitting .299 off Taylor and .252 off Margaritonda.

Last season, Tulane traveled out to Charleston, W. Va., for a three-game series against the Thundering Herd. After a Friday night, 4-3 extra-innings loss, the Green Wave rallied to take both ends of a Saturday doubleheader to win the series. Back in 2011, the Green Wave visited Marshall and played a doubleheader then, too. Tulane won two of the three games during that series, as well.

Overall, Tulane leads the all-time series between the two programs, 18-8-1.

Following the three-game series, Tulane will return to the state of Louisiana and will travel to Louisiana-Lafayette - who was ranked No. 1 in the latest Baseball America poll - on Tuesday, April 1.

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