NEW ORLEANS – It has been four years since the Green Wave were able to knock off in-state rival LSU but the Green Wave did not let history dictate Tuesday's outcome at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium as sophomore outfielder Richard Carthon knocked freshman second baseman Jake Willsey in on an RBI single in the bottom of the 11th for the Green Wave's first walk-off base hit of the season.
Tulane (13-11) got solid pitching performances from six pitchers on the evening, while the Green Wave underclassmen hitters accounted for six of Tulane's seven hits on the evening, including the big one that secured Tulane's first win over LSU since May 18, 2010.
With the score tied at two from the top of the fifth on, both Tulane and LSU (20-5-1) had chances to move ahead, but the pitching and defense by both teams were able to keep the game even. In the bottom of the 11th, LSU pitcher Nate Fury – who spent his freshman year as a member of the Green Wave baseball team – entered the game after the first three LSU pitchers combined to allow just five hits in 10 innings. Fury (1-1) was able to induce back-to-back groundouts for the first two outs of the, but Willsey launched a blooper into right field that LSU outfielder Mark Laird crashed into the wall down the right-field line in an attempt to make a play. Willsey was able to reach second on what was credited as a double, and Carthon stepped up to the dish to knock him in on a shot over the right side of the infield.
"You can be a hero at any point, and it can happen at any time, and Richard had a great at-bat and went out there and won the game for us," said assistant coach Jake Gautreau. "The wind was blowing dead-in tonight, and I thought we had a lot of really good at-bats where we hit the ball really hard and had nothing to show for it, so that's just one of those things where you continue to grind out at-bats, and know that eventually the luck should prevail. The guys stuck to it, and I was proud of them tonight, and obviously Jake hitting that double in the 11th with two outs, and Richard, after having a tough day up to that point, hitting that game winner.
The Green Wave started freshman righty Corey Merrill on the bump, and he gave the team 2.0 strong innings, allowing just one hit to a team ranked fourth in the nation. Following Merrill's outing, another freshman righty in Zach Flowers entered the game and put up the same line his predecessor did.
With the pitching staff rolling along, the LSU bats came alive in the bottom of the third with two outs. Freshman shortstop Stephen Alemais singled to right field, and junior first baseman Garett Deschamp joined him on the basepaths after getting plunked by a delivery from Glenn. Freshman third baseman Hunter Hope singled to right field to load the bases, but Glenn was able to leave the bases full of Green Wave runners as he got a groundball to end Tulane's threat.
However, in the very next inning, the Green Wave made their hits pay off as they took the game's first lead. Freshman catcher Jake Rogers walked with an out on the board, and Willsey delivered a two-out single to left center to put runners at first and second. Carthon walked to load the bags for Alemais, who came through on a single right up the middle that plated Willsey and Rogers.
LSU made it a new ballgame in the top of the fifth, as they tied things up with a two-run inning of their own. Tulane freshman right-handed pitcher Tyler Zamjahn walked LSU's Conner Hale, and he moved to second on a wild pitch. Zamjahn then walked Christian Ibarra before the Brother Martin product was replaced on the hill by sophomore Tim Yandel. LSU's Jake Fraley bunted to reach first base, loading the bags, before Yandel issued a bases-loaded walk to Kramer Robertson to cut Tulane's lead to just one. In the very next at-bat, Laird hit a sacrifice fly to left field to tie the contest. Things could have gone much worse, after Tulane intentionally walked Alex Bregman to load the bases, but Sean McMullen lined into an unassisted double play at first base to Deschamp.
Tulane had an opportunity to move ahead in the sixth as they loaded the bases yet again, but a fly out ended the Green Wave's chances of taking the lead.
In the top of the eighth, Tulane redshirt senior Kyle McKenzie entered the game, and he finished things out for the Green Wave. The Boston native walked his first batter, but then got a double play ball before striking out LSU's Andrew Stevenson to get out of the frame.
In the ninth and tenth innings, McKenzie (3-0) retired the LSU lineup in order. The righty did allow a base hit with two outs in the top of the 11th, but he immediately got a groundball out to get out of the inning and put Tulane in position for their walk-off victory.
"(McKenzie) filled it up and was outstanding," said Tulane associate head coach Chad Sutter. "We were talking about this weekend with conference-play and things like that, but we knew this was a huge game, and he didn't want to come out. He had his good stuff going, he was pounding the strike zone for as many innings as he threw, he kept his pitch count down, so he just gave a really great effort all around."
Winning against LSU is nothing new to McKenzie, as he was credited with the last victory over the Tigers. McKenzie started and went 5.1 innings, fanning five, in a 9-1 victory over the Tigers on May 18, 2010.
"First time around was a long time ago," said McKenzie. "It was fun. Tonight was an unbelievable team victory. I think we played great in all facets of the game: grinding out at-bats, staying up when they tied it up, and playing good defense. The defense really played great tonight."
Alemais and Willsey went 2-for-5 at the plate, with Willsey scoring twice and Alemais posting two RBI, individual career-highs for both. Hope, Carthon and senior outfielder Andrew Garner collected the other three hits for the Green Wave on the evening.
Sophomore righty Dan Rankin also made an appearance on the mound for the Green Wave, pitching 2.0 innings and walking two and striking out one.
The victory for the Green Wave was the first over a nationally-ranked team since Tulane defeated No. 18 Rice in 7-6 Sunday contest on March 30 of last season. The last time Tulane defeated a top-ten nationally ranked team was also against Rice, when they sat at No. 9, on April 6, 2012.
Tulane won't get to celebrate their victory for long, as they will travel on Thursday to Charleston, W. Va., for a three-game series against Conference USA foe Marshall. The Green Wave will play at 5pm CT on Friday and 1pm CT on Saturday. The two teams will play a nationally-televised contest on Sunday at 9am CT on Fox Sports 2. All three games will be broadcast on the home of Tulane baseball for the 2014 season, 88.3 FM