Junior Alex Byo Will Start the Tournament Opener for the Green Wave Versus East Carolina
May 23, 2012
5/23/2012 - 5/27/2012
Tulane Green Wave (37-18, 14-10 C-USA) at Conference USA Tournament Presented by Trustmark
First Pitch: 7:00 (Wed.), 11:00 a.m. (Fri.), 11:00 a.m. (Sat.)
Stadium: Trustmark Park (Pearl, Miss.)
Looking at the Green Wave
Tulane ended the regular season by winning their final four Conference USA series to claim the three seed at the upcoming Conference USA Tournament presented by Trustmark and pushed their overall record to 37-18.
The 14 conference victories are the most by a Green Wave team since the team went 15-9 during the 2006 slate. The Olive and Blue finished in a three-way tie for the third spot in the standings, but held the tie-breaker with Southern Miss - sweeping the Golden Eagles - and Memphis - winning two of three from the Tigers to open C-USA play.
Squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble, Tulane will open tournament play versus sixth-seeded East Carolina on Wednesday, May 23 at 7:00 p.m. before taking their bye on Thursday, May 24. A pair of 11:00 a.m. game await the team when they will face UAB (5/25) and UCF (5/26) in the first game of each day.
Over the past ten games, Tulane has posted an 8-2 record and are hitting .297 as a team, while the pitching staff has an ERA of 3.51. Blake Crohan is the top hitter over the last ten games with a .382 batting average, to go along with seven RBIs, and Jeremy Schaffer has six doubles - 12 total hits - and leads the team with eight RBIs and seven walks over his last ten games.
Overall in 2012, Brennan Middleton has been the leader at the plate and ended the regular season with a .360 batting average. The junior ranks among the Conference USA leaders in five offensive categories and paced the conference with 170 fielding assists. Middleton has scored 45 runs, collected 68 hits and stolen a team-high 14 bases entering tournament play.
Schaffer and Nick Schneeberger have powered the Green Wave offense, as well. Schaffer leads the team with 18 doubles, nine home runs and 48 RBIs. Schneeberger, who is a Jackson, Miss. native, ranks second on the squad with a .350 batting average and 46 RBIs, adding a team-high 75 hits.
Schaffer has moved his name into the top-ten in Tulane history in seven categories, including home runs, RBIs and games started. The four-year starter needs just four total bases to move past Keith Graffagnini and push himself into tenth on the career total bases charts. On top of his work on the field, Schaffer has also been honored as a CoSIDA Academic All-District performer, as well as being named to the Conference USA All-Academic Team.
Brandon Boudreaux joined Schaffer on the CoSIDA Academic All-District squad and the C-USA All-Academic team and set career-highs runs (55), doubles (14), home runs (8), RBIs (35), total bases (110), walks (33) and stolen bases (10). His run total leads Conference USA, even with missing the final five games due to injury.
On the mound, the Tulane bullpen has been solid for the Olive and Blue with 200 1/3 innings of work and a 2.38 earned run average. Twelve relievers have compiled a 15-3 record and boasted 14 saves, striking out 146 and walking 86.
D.J. Ponder has anchored that unit with a 0.57 ERA to go along with a 2-0 record and 11 saves. He has allowed just three runs in 25 appearances, spanning 47 innings of work, and limits the opposition to a .178 batting average. Andrew Garner owns a 5-0 record and one save in 14 appearances, while Alex Facundus is 3-2 with a 2.04 ERA and a save in 24 appearances.
The starting rotation has been solid, as well, and the duo of Alex Byo and David Napoli are a big reason for that. Byo has won a staff-best eight games and all 13 of his appearances have been starts. Napoli has made 11 straight starts and thrown five innings in ten of them. The junior is 7-3 and has a team-best 55 strikeouts to supplement his 2.87 ERA.
Looking at Pool Two
UCF enters with a 41-14 overall record and finished C-USA with the No. 2-seed at 16-8. D.J. Hicks paces the offense with 11 home runs, 48 walks and 68 runs batted in. The pitching staff owns a 3.27 ERA, with 455 strikeouts and a .254 batting average against. None of their three weekend starters own an ERA of over 4.00 and are a combined 18-3 on the year.
East Carolina finished C-USA with a 13-10-1 record and is 34-20-1 overall. The Pirates are led by John Wooten's .336 batting average and Zach Wright's 36 RBIs. Their team ERA of 3.07 ranks second in C-USA and Kevin Brandt (7-5) will make the tournament opening start for ECU. Andy Smithmeyer has been a big part of their staff with a 1.60 ERA in 56 1/3 innings of work this season.
UAB grabbed the No. 7-seed with a 9-15 finish in C-USA and posted a 29-27 overall mark. Ivan De Jesus leads the team with a .292 average, 63 hits and is third on the team with 22 RBIs. The pitching staff owns a combined 4.56 ERA, but limits opponents to a .278 batting average. Ben Bullard leads the staff with a 2.96 ERA, and 79 strikeouts to just 19 walks.
The winner of the Pool 2 will play the winner of Pool 1, which consists of Houston, Memphis, Rice and Southern Miss, in the Conference USA Championship Game at 1:00 on Sunday, May 27.