Nov. 2, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - A masterful pitching performance from Team Blue starter Randy LeBlanc - who fanned six batters across 5.0 innings while walking none - gave his squad the 3-1 victory over Team Green in Game Two of the Fall World Series on Saturday, setting up a deciding Game Three on Sunday.
LeBlanc (1-0) got the win, allowing only two hits across the game, and a run to senior left fielder Max Goodman in the third inning. His counterpart, sophomore Emerson Gibbs, pitched well too, as he only allowed three hits in 4.2 innings for the no decision.
With Team Green leading 1-0 going into the top of the fifth, and junior center fielder already on second base for Team Blue after getting plunked by Gibbs and stealing a bag, he came around to touch the pay station on an RBI-double off the bat of freshman third baseman Hunter Hope. Gibbs was pulled in favor of freshman southpaw Sam Bjorngjeld.
Bjorngjeld (0-1) remained on the hill in the top of the sixth, and some careless baseball allowed Hunter Williams to get to second on two errors to lead off the frame. With two outs, Bjorngjeld managed to strikeout freshman outfielder Grant Brown, but he was able to reach base on a passed ball, moving Williams to third. Gandolfo then brought Williams home on a single up the middle for the go-ahead run.
Junior relief pitcher Kyle McKenzie came on in relief of LeBlanc in the bottom of the sixth, and he struck out two and allowed only two hits in 3.0 innings for the save.
"I thought Randy LeBlanc showed the best stuff he has shown since his injury," said Tulane baseball head coach Rick Jones. "He hit 95 on the radar gun, but was mostly around 93 or 94 (mph). His secondary pitches were better. If he continues to improve on his secondary pitches, he'll be something special. I also thought Emerson Gibbs pitched well. His velocity has gotten so much better, touching 90 on the gun today. He threw it over the plate."
Offensively, Team Blue were led by a pair of freshmen in Hope and Barry Buchowski, who both recorded two hits each. Gandolfo had another solid day at the dish, going 1-for-3 with a run, an RBI and a walk. Braud, Hope and Gandolfo all notched an RBI each.
Junior Bowen Woodson, who reached base twice on the afternoon after getting hit by both Bjorngjeld and Rankin, swiped two bags on the afternoon for Team Blue, while Gandolfo stole a bag of his own.
On top of their offensive showing, Team Blue also played clean in the field, posting no errors one day after posting two defensive miscues in their 6-4 loss in Game One.
"We had a great day," said Team Blue manager Tyler Mapes. "We cleaned up our play by playing error-free baseball. We were aggressive on the base paths. Hunter Hope came through for us on a double down the line. Tomorrow, we are going to come out and play even cleaner, if that's possible, and we are going to win."
The losing team had some solid offensive showings, as well, as senior Andrew Garner went 2-for-4 and freshman second baseman Jake Willsey laced two doubles down the right field line on his way to a 2-for-3 day.
Team Green manager Briggs Barrios was happy with the pitching performance from Gibbs, and from his team as a whole, despite coming up short in the contest.
"We just didn't hit the ball well enough in key situations," said Barrios. "Gibbs really threw well for us today. He gave us a solid outing. Our bullpen was clutch, too, with Sam and Rank. They kept us in the ball game, but our bats just weren't there. We are going to come out tomorrow and have better at-bats and be aggressive tomorrow."
The deciding game of the series will be held at 11am CT tomorrow at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium. A pair of local, freshmen pitchers will take the mound for their respective squads, as Corey Merrill will start for Team Green and J.P. France will start for Team Blue.
"We had a tremendous crowd out here today, and I'd like to see a lot of them out here again tomorrow," added Jones.
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