Baseball to Host Three-Game Series Against Nationally-Ranked Rice

TULANEGREENWAVE.COM Freshman catcher Jake Rogers leads Conference USA in runners caught stealing with 19
Freshman catcher Jake Rogers leads Conference USA in runners caught stealing with 19

April 10, 2014

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NEW ORLEANS - For the final time as Conference USA members, the Tulane baseball squad will host league-rival Rice during a three-game series, starting Friday, at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium, marking the third time this season a nationally-ranked opponent has visited the Green Wave ballpark in New Orleans.

Friday's contest will begin at 6:30pm CT at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium, while Saturday's contest between the two rivals will start at 2pm CT. The Sunday matchup is scheduled for a 1pm CT first pitch. All three games can be followed on the home of Tulane baseball for the 2014 season, 88.3 FM WRBH. Live stats can also be followed on the Tulane baseball schedule page on TulaneGreenWave.com.

Rice is currently ranked in all four major polls, and they come in as high as 20 in the ESPN/USA Today Coach's Poll.

Tulane sits at 14-17 on the season right now, and is currently tenth in league play with a record of 6-8. On Wednesday, the Green Wave fell to in-state rival Southeastern Louisiana, 5-1, with interim head coach Jake Gautreau leading the team for the first time in his career. Prior to the midweek loss, Tulane dropped two of three to UTSA at home. The Green Wave are only 1-4 in their last five games.

Rice defeated top-ten ranked Texas, 7-2 on Tuesday after dropping two of three to C-USA rival East Carolina. The Owls also dropped a midweek game to Texas last week after losing two of three at Middle Tennessee the week before. In their last eight contests, the Owls are just 3-5. On the season, the team is 23-12, while coming in at third in the league standings with a record of 10-5.

Sophomore Richard Carthon still paces the Green Wave with the highest eligible batting average of .304, while also leading the team in runs with 34. Freshman third baseman Hunter Hope leads the team in hits with 35 while batting .294. Freshman infielder Jake Willsey is now hitting at a clip of .317 with 20 hits in just 17 starts. As a team, the Green Wave batting average has dipped to .225.

Rice is hitting .285 as a team, and they possess three .300 hitters in their everyday lineup. John Clay Reeves leads the team in hits (46) and batting average (.357), while Shane Hoelscher (.33) and Skyler Ewing (.324) are also having solid seasons at the dish. Ewing also owns five of the team's eight home runs, and he leads the team in RBI with 34.

The Green Wave will flip their Friday and Saturday starting pitchers for the weekend series against Rice, with redshirt junior Randy LeBlanc getting the ball on Friday and redshirt senior Tyler Mapes going on Saturday. Sunday's starter for the Green Wave is yet to be determined.

Rice will counter the Green Wave rotation with righty Kevin McCanna on Friday, southpaw Blake Fox on Saturday and righty Chase McDowell on Sunday.

LeBlanc is coming off arguably his best performance as a collegiate pitcher last weekend when he fanned eight batters in 8.0 innings while walking none and allowing no runs in a 4-1 win for the Green Wave over UTSA. On the year, the Abita Springs, La., native owns a record of 3-2 while notching a 2.17 ERA in 49.2 innings of work. He has started a team-high eight games, and he leads the team in strikeouts with 42.

LeBlanc's counterpart, McCanna, is 2-2 on the year in five starts with a 3.96 ERA. McCanna has allowed 43 hits across 38.2 innings, and owns 24 strikeouts with 14 walks.

Mapes struggled a bit last weekend for one of the few times this season, as the redshirt senior walked four in 6.2 innings of work, after coming into the weekend with just three walks on the season. Mapes has been consistent throughout the remainder of the year, however, as he owns a 4-1 record and a 2.18 ERA in seven starts. In 41.1 innings, Mapes has allowed just 40 hits while striking out 33 and walking seven.

Fox has been lights out for Rice this season, as he leads the team in wins (7-0) and ERA (0.99). In 54.2 innings, he has allowed just six earned runs, while giving up just 47 hits. Opponents are hitting .235 off him, and he has posted 35 strikeouts and 14 walks in his time on the mound.

Rice's McDowell is no slouch, as he owns a miniscule 2.11 ERA in 42.2 innings. McDowell has a 3-2 record in 42.2 innings, while allowing 37 hits and striking out 27. He has walked 11 batters over the course of the season.

Rice owns the overall series between the two programs, winning 27 of the 35 contests between the teams. The only series to go in favor of the Green Wave was back in 2005, when Tulane took two of three in the NCAA Super Regional on their way to their second College World Series appearance.

The series also marks the first Conference USA matchup in the history of Tulane baseball Gautreau at the helm of the program. Rice is skippered by longtime collegiate baseball coach Wayne Graham.

Before the Friday contest, the Pocket Aces Brass Band will be putting on a free performance in the right field tents from 4-6pm CT.

Saturday is Fireman Appreciation Day at the ballpark, and anyone with proper fireman identification will receive a free ticket to the game. Members of the New Orleans Fire Department will throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Saturday. Saturday's contest is also Hawaiian Day, and fans are urged to wear their Hawaiian shirts. Free leis will be given away at the entrance of the ballpark.

Sunday is Kids' Day at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium. There will be inflatables for youngster to play in during the game, and they will be able to stand next to their favorite players on the field during the National Anthem while also having the opportunity to run around the bases post game. It will also be Mascot Day on Saturday, with the mascots from the New Orleans Voodoo, New Orleans Pelicans, New Orleans Zephyrs and Loyola Wolfpack in attendance.

For all three games over the weekend, fans can donate a bag of Mardi Gras beads to receive a voucher for a future Green Wave baseball game.

Single game tickets for the 2014 Tulane baseball season can be purchased through the Tulane ticket office by either calling 504-861-WAVE (9283), or visiting the James W. Wilson, Jr. Center's first floor ticket office.

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