Baseball to Wrap Up 2014 Season with Action-Packed Weekend Against FIU

TULANEGREENWAVE.COM Redshirt senior Tyler Mapes will make the final start of his Tulane career on Saturday against FIU
Redshirt senior Tyler Mapes will make the final start of his Tulane career on Saturday against FIU

May 14, 2014

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NEW ORLEANS - A busy, emotional weekend will wrap up the 2014 Tulane baseball season on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, as the Green Wave will play host to FIU at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.

The series-opening game will be held on Thursday at 6:30pm CT. Thursday's game will be televised on Cox Sports Television. Check your local listings for channel information.

Friday's contest will also begin at 6:30pm CT, while the season-finale for the Green Wave will begin at 1pm CT on Saturday.

All three games will be broadcast on the home of Tulane baseball for the 2014 season, 88.3 FM WRBH. Live stats will be provided through GameTracker on the Tulane baseball schedule page at TulaneGreenWave.com.

Prior to the beginning of Friday's contest, Tulane's six senior players - Nick DiMaggio, Bowen Woodson, Brady Wilson, Kyle McKenzie, Andrew Garner and Tyler Mapes - along with Tulane student assistant Briggs Barrios will be presented with their degrees since the seven will not be able to attend graduation ceremonies on Saturday due to the game.

Saturday will be Senior Day, where each of the aforementioned seven seniors will be honored by the Green Wave baseball program.

The Green Wave are coming off a disappointing weekend in which they were swept by UAB 1-0, 7-2 and 2-0 in Birmingham, Ala. The three-game road series losses marked the first time Tulane was swept on the road since losing three to Rice in 2009. However, prior to those losses, Tulane had taken three-straight contests for just the second time on the season as they defeated Southeastern Louisiana at home while also winning the last two games of the Southern Miss series at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium. On the campaign, Tulane is 21-28 overall with a record of 8-17 in Conference USA play.

FIU is 35-16 on the season and are currently sitting one game ahead of both East Carolina and Middle Tennessee for sixth place in the league standings with a record of 15-12. The Panthers are coming off a 5-1 loss to Florida Atlantic - a non-conference tilt added late in the season - on Tuesday night. This past weekend, FIU took two of three from Middle Tennessee.

Tulane junior infielder Garrett Deschamp has overtaken the top hitting spot on the team with a batting average of .277. Freshman third baseman Hunter Hope is one point behind him at .276. Since the start of the Wichita State series three weekends ago, Deschamp is batting .385, while freshman outfielder Grant Brown is hitting at a clip of .313.

At the plate, FIU is hitting .292 as a team and are led by Aramis Garcia's .353 batting average. Josh Anderson and Julius Gaines are both batting over .300 at .308 and .301, respectively. The team has collected 25 home runs on the year with Garcia pacing the way with seven.

For the fifth-straight weekend, Tulane will roll out the same pitching rotation: freshman Corey Merrill for game one, redshirt junior Randy LeBlanc for game two and Mapes for game three.

Merrill has been a pleasant surprise for the Green Wave this season, as the product from Lutcher moved to the Friday night role back on April 17 against Charlotte. For four-straight weeks, Merrill has pitched 7.0 innings or more in his four starts, while amassing 16 strikeouts and allowing only 17 hits. Most importantly, in the 28.1 innings he's totaled in the last four outings, he's allowed only five total runs. On the season, Merrill is 0-4 with a 3.18 ERA in 51.0 innings of work.

LeBlanc had a tough go of it last Saturday at UAB, as he allowed ten hits in 6.0 innings. However, his defense didn't back him up, as only two of the six runs that were scored while he was were earned. On the season, the righty from Abita Springs, La., is 4-5 with a 2.60 ERA in a team-high 83.0 innings. He owns the team's top strikeout total of 61, and he has only issued 17 walks.

Mapes fanned five across 6.0 innings while allowing two runs - one earned - at UAB last Sunday. The week before, however, saw the Plano, Texas, native earn his first Conference USA Pitcher of the Week honors, as he notched his first-career complete-game shutout in a 3-0 win over Southern Miss. Mapes is 5-5 with a starting rotation-low ERA of 2.44. In 12 starts, Mapes has fanned 54 while walking just 14.

FIU will start Mike Franco on Thursday and Chris Mourelle on Saturday, with either Robby Kalaf or Cody Crouse getting the start on Friday night.

Franco leads the team in starts with 13, and he holds a team-low ERA of 1.12. In 88.2 innings, the junior right-handed pitcher has fanned 100 batters while walking just 23 and allowing just 59 hits. Opponents are hitting just .187 off him.

Crouse is a true freshman who has started 10 games on the season for FIU. The righty is 4-3 with a 2.36 ERA in 68.2 innings. The rookie has 37 strikeouts while allowing 70 hits and 18 walks on the year. Kalaf is 3-2 with a 3.98 ERA in nine starts. He has pitched in 40.2 innings this season and has recorded 28 strikeouts while walking 21.

Mourelle, another true freshman, has an ERA of 1.70 in 11 starts, totaling 74.1 innings. He has allowed 68 hits while walking 10 and striking out 35.

The two teams have only squared off against one another on one occasion. FIU defeated the Green Wave, 6-1, on March 30, 2011 at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium. In that game, Garner pitched 1.2 innings, while Woodson went 1-for-4 with a run. Barrios pinch hit in that game and picked up a walk.

In addition to senior day, Saturday will also be Academy Sports and Outdoors Kids Day. Tickets for adults will only be $5, and kids will get in free.

The entire weekend will be Faculty and Staff Appreciation Weekend. Any Tulane faculty or staff member can call 504-861-WAVE (9283) to RSVP for their free ticket. Free food will be made available to attendees. Single game tickets are available for the weekend contests. For more information on tickets, call 504-861-WAVE (9283), or visit 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.