PEARL, Miss. – It was an uphill battle for the Tulane baseball team from the time they stepped on the diamond at Trustmark Park on Friday (May 25) in their 6-3 loss to seventh-seeded UAB at the Conference USA Championships presented by Trustmark. The Green Wave stranded runners on base in seven of the nine innings and three late errors in the field led to four unearned runs for the Blazes in the defeat.
“We’ve been such a good defensive club all year, and today, too, but we made three errors,” said Tulane head coach Rick Jones. “When you’re fielding .980 (on the year), that’s one of the reasons that we have had 38 wins, because we’re so sound defensively. When you’re fielding .980, sooner or later the odds are going to catch you. We didn’t string together enough quality at bats, but you have to give credit to (UAB pitcher Chase Mallard), especially the way the game started. We just didn’t pitch as well as we needed to in some spots. The bottom line is defensively, we had too many breakdowns.”
Tulane (38-19) trailed by only two entering the bottom of the sixth inning, but two errors allowed our unearned runs to score over the next two innings and couldn’t overcome the three-run deficit. In the sixth, Kyle McKenzie allowed the first two base runners to reach – via walk and base hit – a sacrifice bunt moved both runners up a base and a line drive was snared by Sean Potkay at first base to record the second out. Potkay then tried to double off the runner at third, but threw wildly and a run crossed the plate.
UAB (31-27) added another run in the sixth on a throwing error by McKenzie and in the seventh a dropped fly ball with two outs allowed the first run to score and an RBI single followed to make it 6-3. The Green Wave had a runner on base in the eighth, but couldn’t push him across and Dillon Napoleon threw the finale two and one-thirds innings scoreless to post his second save of the season.
UAB opened the scoring in the second inning against Tulane starting pitcher Andrew Reeves when five straight hitters reached base with one out in the inning. Keith DePew started the scoring with an RBI single and the second run came in on a fielders choice groundout to make it 2-0.
The Green Wave would get a run back in the fourth with help from a Blazers misstep in the field when Bowen Woodson grounded out to score Blake Crohan from third base. In the frame, Crohan singled, was safe at second on a throwing error by the UAB second baseman which allowed Andrew Garner to reach base on a fielders choice. Brennan Middleton then sacrifice the runners to second and third and Woodson delivered the first run of the game for Tulane.
Tulane needs some help to get to the title game of the Conference USA Championships presented by Trustmark, but will first have to take care of business in their final game of pool play versus UCF at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 26. For Tulane to make the championship game, East Carolina needs to win their final two games and Tulane will have to defeat the Knights. If UCF wins their 3:00 contest with ECU today, then UAB will play Memphis in the championship game on Sunday.