April 23, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - After the first bye weekend in Tulane baseball head coach Rick Jones' 20 year tenure on the Uptown campus, the Green Wave will travel up I-10 to face one of the top teams in the country in LSU on Wednesday in Baton Rouge, La.
The 6:30pm CT contest will be broadcast on Cox Sports Television, and audio of the game can be heard at 106.1 The Ticket. Live stats can be accessed through TulaneGreenWave.com.
Tulane did not play any games this past weekend after defeating Louisiana-Monroe and New Orleans during midweek contests last week. The Greenies sit at 20-20 on the season.
LSU is ranked in second ranked team in all of the major national polls with a 37-4 record. This past weekend, the Tigers faced Alabama, defeating the Crimson Tide two out of three games. Two contests went to extra innings, including a 16-inning marathon that ended in LSU's favor.
There is a lot of history between the two programs. They have played each other 304 times since the inception of the Tulane baseball program in 1893. The two teams squared off against one another earlier this season at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium, with LSU defeating the Green Wave 14-1 on March 26. However, Tulane has had some tremendous moments against the Tigers, including the 2001 Super Regionals where the Green Wave beat LSU two out of three games to earn their first College World Series berth.
"I remember when they opened the gates during the Sunday game, and it looked like a rock concert (with all of the fans pouring in)," stated Jones. "That game is one of the highest rated college baseball television games. But, you can't live in the past too much. Right now, we are hitting .234 and they are hitting .307. We are fielding .973 - and we have been playing very well defensively in the last month - but they are fielding .982. Our team ERA is 3.34, and that is really good. LSU's is 2.44. They are a really good club, and I've seen some really good clubs up there."
On Wednesday, Tulane will rely on redshirt sophomore Randy LeBlanc on the mound. LeBlanc made one of the best starts of his career last Tuesday against Louisiana-Monroe, going 7.0 innings while striking out six and only allowing two runs in Tulane's 5-2 win. The week prior to that, LeBlanc notched his first win of the season when he pitched 6.0 innings in a start against Louisiana-Lafayette. On the year, the Abita Springs, La., native is 2-2 with a 5.57 ERA in 32.1 innings. He has recorded 18 strikeouts.
LSU will start right-handed junior Kurt McCune, who just made his season debut on April 9 against Southern. In that contest, McCune allowed two runs on three hits and two walks while notching three strikeouts. Prior to that appearance, he had not performed due to a stress fracture in his back that was suffered before the season.
Tulane is led at the plate by senior Brennan Middleton, whose batting average now sits at .301. His 50 hits are tied for fourth place in Conference USA this season. Senior Garrett Cannizaro - while only hitting .256 on the season - has come on hot as of late. Cannizaro has recorded four straight multi-hit games after only notching four multi-hit games through the first 36 games of the regular season. In the last five games, Cannizaro is hitting at a clip of .476 while also notching five RBIs. Senior Tucker Oakley is also hitting well as of late, as he has a .375 batting average over the last five games.
The Tigers boast one of the nation's top freshmen, and he happens to be leading their team in hitting. Alex Bregman owns a .414 batting average to go along with his five home runs and 41 RBIs. Mason Katz is not far behind him in the batting average category, hitting .397. However, Katz owns 13 home runs and 60 RBIs on the year. Two other Tiger hitters are batting over .300: Christian Ibarra (.346) and Raph Rhymes (.327).
LSU's bullpen is led by Chris Cotton, who has eight saves in 26.1 innings of work this year. He also has 30 strikeouts while walking only two. Opponents are only batting .214 off the Tiger pitching staff.
After the in-state rivalry game, Tulane will quickly turnaround to travel up to Charleston, W.V., to face Marshall in a three-game Conference USA series this weekend.
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