GREENVILLE, N.C. – Tulane baseball ended a three-game skid with a big win in Conference USA play, as they defeated East Carolina, 7-2, behind the arms of seniors Tyler Mapes and Kyle McKenzie at Clark-LeClair Stadium in Greenville, N.C. on Friday night.
Tulane (10-6, 3-1) came into the contest having dropped their last three, including back-to-back shutouts to Arkansas and San Francisco last weekend before losing to top-ten ULL at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium on Wednesday. However, the Green Wave posted seven hits, and used ECU's (8-10, 1-3) three errors to their advantage as they posted a victory over one of the top pitchers in C-USA.
Mapes (3-0) and McKenzie were the only two pitchers who took the mound for the Green Wave, combining for seven strikeouts and just three walks, while ECU starter Jeff Hoffman was rocked by Tulane batters to the tune of seven hits and six runs before being pulled after 6.1 innings.
Tulane junior first baseman Garrett Deschamp and freshman shortstop Stephen Alemais both collected two hits on the afternoon. Alemais scored twice and one of his base knocks was a double.
"We took care of the baseball and we maximized our offense tonight," said Tulane baseball head coach Rick Jones. "We were able to hit-and-run and get some sac flies. We hit down the line very well. The wind was tough tonight, too."
Mapes got off to a rocky start in the top of the first, as he allowed back-to-back singles to hitters Ben Fultz and Drew Reynolds before walking Zach Houchins to load the bags. The count went full to cleanup hitter Ian Townsend. But a grounder by Townsend to Deschamp turned into a 3-2 double play, as Deschamp got the force out at first before throwing home to catcher Jake Rogers who put the tag on Fultz at the dish. Mapes then was able to get Bryce Harman to fly out to left field, getting out of the first with no damage done.
"That double play was a big momentum turn for us," added Jones.
In the top of the second, Tulane's offense got going as Deschamp and freshman third baseman Hunter Hope hit back-to-back singles off Hoffman (0-3). Rogers hit into a fielders choice that put Hope out at second and allowing Deschamp to move to third before senior centerfielder Bowen Woodson hit a sac fly into right field to push Deschamp across the plate for the game's first run.
Alemais led off the top of the third with a double into right field, and fellow freshman Jake Willsey, who got the start at second base, singled into center field before moving on second on a throwing error by ECU's Garrett Brooks. Senior designated hitter Andrew Garner brought Alemais home to give the Green Wave a 2-0 lead.
Mapes rolled through the next four innings, however, after the bumpy first. While he did allow six hits, he struck out two and got some strong defense by his infield who managed to turn a few double plays behind him.
With an out in the top of the sixth, Garner reached on an error when he hit a slow dribbler down the third base line. He moved to second on a single by Deschamp up the middle, and both advanced 90 feet on a poke to first base by Hope. Fortunately, Tulane was able to capitalize on a passed ball that allowed Deschamp to cross home plate to give Tulane a 3-0 lead.
Mapes gave up two hits in the bottom of the sixth before he was pulled in favor of McKenzie. After striking out Townsend for the first out, McKenzie issued just his third walk of the season to Harman to load the bases. But McKenzie struck out the next two batters to preserve the lead for the Green Wave, much to the delight of Mapes, who was the first to greet his pitching mate on his way to the dugout after his three-strikeout frame.
Sophomore right fielder Tim Yandel walked with one out in the top of the seventh and was replaced on the basepaths by freshman Grant Brown. The move proved worthwhile, as a hit-and-run executed by Alemais put a ball into right field. ECU's Townsend overran the line drive, and Brown never stopped running, scoring all the way from first base. With Alemais at second base, a line drive into center from Carthon brought the Bronx, N.Y., native home to chase Hoffman from the mound.
Lefty Nick Durazo replaced ECU's ace on the hill, and Carthon immediately swiped second on the southpaw. Willsey walked and Garner was plunked by a breaking ball to load the bases for Deschamp, before Durazo was pulled from the mound in favor of Davis Kirkpatrick. Deschamp reached on a fielder's choice to short that didn't record an out, but did record a run, as Carthon scored from third. Hope hit a sac fly to right field to score Willsey, giving Tulane their seventh run of the contest before Kirkpatrick was able to get out of the game.
ECU broke up the shutout in the bottom of the seventh as McKenzie allowed an RBI-groundout to Reynolds to score Charlie Yorgen, who had previously reached base on a walk. Houchins then hit an RBI-single into center field to score Hunter Allen, cutting Tulane's lead to just five before McKenzie finished out the game for the Green Wave while getting ECU to hit into their third double play of the game in the bottom of the ninth.
Mapes went 5.0 innings, allowing eight hits and one walk while fanning two for his third victory of the season. McKenzie picked up his second save on the year by striking out five over 4.0 innings.
Due to inclement weather in the Greenville area on Sunday, the two teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday with the first game starting at noon CT. The second game will begin approximately 45 minutes after the conclusion of game one. Both games will be broadcast on 88.3 FM WRBH, and audio will be streaming to members of the All-Access pass at TulaneGreenWave.com.