Sophomore outfielder Richard Carthon leads the team in batting average and runs
April 16, 2014
NEW ORLEANS - For the second time this season, the Tulane baseball team will travel to North Carolina to take on a Conference USA opponent, as the Green Wave will play Charlotte - an old conference foe from Tulane's Metro and C-USA days - on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
The series is pushed up one day to accommodate for Easter Sunday. Thursday's contest is scheduled to start at 5pm CT, and Friday's tilt will begin at 2pm CT. Saturday's game will start at 11am CT. All three contests will be broadcast on the home of Tulane baseball for the 2014 season, 88.3 FM WRBH.
Both teams are near the bottom of the C-USA standings, but are both coming off series in which things could have easily swung their way. Tulane sits at 15-20 overall, including a 6-11 mark in league play after getting swept at home by Rice this past weekend. However, two of those contests were one-run games, and the Green Wave swung the bats relatively well during the series. The Green Wave are in 11th place in the league standings.
The Green Wave snapped a five-game losing streak on Tuesday by defeating McNeese State at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium in a 3-2, 10-inning tilt that saw freshman third baseman Hunter Hope knock in freshman pinch runner Grant Brown for the game-winning run.
The 49ers are in last place in the C-USA standings with an overall record of 9-24-1 and a league-mark of 2-13. This past weekend, they lost two of three to Florida Atlantic, but the Friday night game - much like Tulane's - was a one-run loss. Charlotte was scheduled to play Gardner-Webb on Tuesday, but rain washed the game out before it began.
Tulane raised their team batting average to .228 after posting back-to-back 10-plus hit outings during their last two contests. The only other time during the season when Tulane has posted double-digit hits in consecutive contests was during the final game of the opening-weekend series against Arkansas-Pine Bluff and the first two games of the following weekend series at Louisiana Tech. Sophomore outfielder Richard Carthon leads the team in hitting with a .297 batting average, while the aforementioned Hope is right behind him, just one point lower. Freshman second base man Jake Willsey is hitting .299 after making his 21st straight-start on Tuesday.
The 49ers are batting .343 and like Tulane, they have no individual every day starter hitting over .300. Brett Lang leads Charlotte with a batting average of .293, while T.J. Nichting leads the team in hits with 36 and is second in batting average, hitting .277. Logan Sherer is the pacesetter in RBI with 18. Corbin Shive, who has made just 21 starts, leads the team in home runs with four, but is batting .191 in 68 at-bats.
Tulane is switching up their pitching rotation because of the short week, as freshman righty Corey Merrill will get the ball in the first game of the series. Redshirt junior Randy LeBlanc will pitch on Friday, and redshirt senior Tyler Mapes will close out the series on Saturday.
Merrill has made five starts on the season, but this will be his first start against a C-USA opponent. In nine appearances on the year, the Lutcher product is 0-2 with a 5.16 ERA in 22.2 innings of work. He has 16 strikeouts to his name this season, while he has allowed 24 hits and 12 walks.
Thursday will be a battle of Corey's on the mound, as Charlotte will send righty Corey Roberts to pitch. The redshirt senior is 0-3 on the year, but owns a 3.59 ERA in eight starts. Roberts has totaled 49.0 innings, while allowing 58 hits and issuing 15 walks. He has posted 31 strikeouts on the year.
LeBlanc allowed ten hits to Rice last weekend, his first start in the Friday night role on the season. Other than that performance, LeBlanc has had an outstanding season, as he owns a 2.57 ERA and a 3-3 record in 56.0 innings. The Abita Springs, La., leads the team with nine starts, and he has posted 45 strikeouts while walking just 12.
Ryan Butler will get the ball for Charlotte on Friday. The righty is 2-5 on the year with a 2-5 record and a 4.17 ERA - the highest mark of the three Charlotte starters this weekend. The redshirt junior has allowed 62 hits in 49.2 innings while striking out 33 and walking 16.
Mapes has arguably been the Green Wave's top starter on the season, and his numbers can back that up. Last weekend, he pitched his first complete game as a member of the Tulane squad, allowing just one earned run in a 2-1 loss to Rice. On the season, the Plano, Texas, native is 4-2 with a 1.97 ERA in eight starts, with 50.1 innings of work under his belt. He has allowed just 46 hits, while he owns 40 strikeouts to just eight walks on the year.
Mapes will be opposed by righty Brock Hudgens, who is 1-4 with a 3.59 ERA in a team-high nine starts this year. Hudgens has allowed 48 hits and 21 walks in 52.2 innings while striking out 46.
Both of these teams have a long history with each other, despite not having played since 2005. Both squads were members of the Metro Conference from 1991-95 before becoming charter members of their current league. Charlotte left the league after the 2005 season to join the Atlantic-10 Conference, but rejoined C-USA in the summer of 2013.
Tulane holds the all-time series record between the two programs, 31-21. Tulane has also won the last six contests between the two schools.
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