PEARL, Miss. – Alex Byo had been one of the most consistent pitches on the Green Wave staff this season and on Wednesday (May 23) night at the Conference USA Championships the junior threw eight of the biggest innings of the season to lead the Tulane baseball team to a 4-3 victory over East Carolina.
Byo was slow out of the gates, allowing three hits and a run to the first three batters he faced, but the right-hander settled in and allowed the Green Wave offense to take the lead – twice – and stymie the East Carolina (34-21-1) offense for eight-plus innings.
John Wooten drove in the first run of the game in the top of the first inning, but the Green Wave offense struck with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second to take the lead against ECU starting pitcher Kevin Brandt. Jeremy Schaffer, Sean Potkay and Andrew Garner all singled to start the inning, with Garner knotting the score with a base hit to left field. After a sacrifice bunt, Garrett Cannizaro – who returned after injuring his right hand two weeks ago at Houston – grounded out to plate the second run of the game.
After Jay Cannon plated the game tying run in the top of the sixth inning, Tulane (38-18) would capitalize on a pair of Pirate errors in the bottom of the frame to score the decisive runs. A pair of singles put runners on the corner with two outs and a fielding error by Jack Reinheimer allowed the Olive and Blue to retake the lead at 3-2. A fielding error on the next play by Corey Thompson allowed the fourth run to score. Cannizaro was credited with his second RBI of the game in the inning, while Brennan Middleton plated the first run of the frame.
Byo (9-4) pitched out of trouble in the seventh inning, with help from Nick Schneeberger’s 12th outfield assist of the season that cut down a runner at third base, and retired three of four batters in the eighth before allowing a leadoff single in the ninth ended the outing for the junior.
D.J. Ponder came on with a runner on first and no outs in the ninth. The senior got a pair of flyball outs, before a balk and a single from Corey Thompson pulled East Carolina within one run at 4-3. Bowen Woodson would make a spectacular over the shoulder running catch in foul territory to collect the final out of the game and preserve Ponders fifth save of the season.
Overall, Byo surrendered three runs on 11 hits, walked one and fanned three batters to pick up his team leading ninth win of the year. His eight innings of work tie his career-high and this was the 11th time this season that he tossed more than five innings in a start.