April 8, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - Unable to play their scheduled game in Lafayette, La., last season due to inclement weather, the Green Wave baseball team will head two hours west to play the Ragin' Cajuns at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field for the first time since 2003 on Tuesday.
Last season, the Greenies were set to play a game in Lafayette in early March, but the tilt was cancelled because of a nasty storm that passed through the area. However, the Ragin' Cajuns made their way down to Greer Field at Turchin Stadium in May for a game where the Greenies won, 7-3.
The game between the two squads will mark the last game in a four-game road streak for the Green Wave. This past weekend, Tulane dropped two of three games against Southern Miss in Hattiesburg, Miss. The Greenies won the opening game of the series behind a stellar pitching performance from sophomore Tony Rizzotti. Seniors Alex Byo and David Napoli pitched well on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, but the Greenies couldn't muster enough runs off equally impressive pitching performances from the Golden Eagles. On the season, Tulane is 16-18 overall with a 4-5 record in Conference USA.
Louisiana-Lafayette have won four of their last five contest, including two of three this past weekend against Sun Belt Conference foe Troy. They defeated McNeese State last Tuesday, and won the closing game of their road conference series against Western Kentucky. The Ragin' Cajuns travelled to Hattiesburg, Miss., for a weekend series against Southern Miss last month, and they won two of three games. The squad has posted a 22-9 overall record with a 6-6 record in conference play.
On Tuesday, Tulane will hand the ball over to redshirt sophomore Randy LeBlanc, who will make his third start of the season. In his other two starts - against Northwestern State and at Southeastern Louisiana - LeBlanc went 5.2 innings, both losses and his only two decisions on the season. The Abita Springs, La., native has made four other appearances on the year out of the bullpen, pitching 8.0 innings in relief. On the season, the righty has pitched 19.1 innings, posting a 6.52 ERA and striking out eight.
The Ragin' Cajuns will send right-handed junior Chase Traffica for his eighth start of the season. Traffica - from Birmingham, Ala. - pitched 5.2 innings against McNeese State last Tuesday, but did not record a decision in the win. He allowed seven hits, while striking out just one Cowboy in ULL's 8-5 win. On the season, Traffica is 3-1 with a 6.10 ERA, allowing 37 hits while walking 10 and striking out 21.
Senior Brennan Middleton has continued to pace the Greenies at the plate with a .324 batting average. His 44 hits are the second most by any player in Conference USA. Senior Sean Potkay is still tied for the league lead in doubles with 11, and his 22 RBIs are tied for fifth in C-USA. Freshman Richard Carthon, who has led off the last five games, led the team in hitting last week with a .385 batting average. He notched five this. He also swiped two bases last week, bringing his season total to seven - good for a tie for seventh in C-USA. As a team, Tulane is hitting .242.
Freshman closer Ian Gibaut recorded his team leading seventh save of the season last Friday in Tulane's 3-2 win over Southern Miss. He has posted a 1.90 ERA on the year to go along with his 24 strikeouts in just 23.2 innings.
The Ragin' Cajuns are hitting at a blistering clip of .311 as a team, led by Tyler Girouard's .407 average. Ryan Leonards is not far behind, batting .395 on the year. Michael Strentz (.355), Dex Kjerstad (.345), Seth Harrison (.340), Caleb Adams (.314) and Blake Trahan (.311) all hit over .300, while Adams' seven home runs and 24 RBIs lead the team. Kjerstad and Girouard have also blasted four home runs apiece.
ULL has a team ERA of 4.41, and they are lead out of the bullpen by Matt Hicks, who has made 15 appearances - all in relief - on the season. Hicks has notched a 3.60 ERA in 25.0 innings, striking out 17 while walking nine.
Tony Robichaux has been the head coach of the Ragin' Cajuns for 19 seasons, and he has compiled a 653-448-1 record during his time in Lafayette. He took ULL to their first and only trip to the College World Series in 2000. He has an overall record of 917-625-1, previously coaching at his alma mater - McNeese State.
The two teams have played each other 82 times in a series that dates back to 1946. Tulane barely holds the lead in the all-time series with 42 wins. Tulane baseball head coach Rick Jones is 16-13 against the Ragin' Cajuns during his tenure as skipper of the Olive and Blue.
Tuesday's game will begin at 6pm CT, and will be broadcast on 88.3 FM WRBH.
Fans can follow the Tulane baseball program on Twitter (@GreenWaveBSB) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GreenWaveBaseball.