The Tulane University baseball team split a Conference USA doubleheader at Charlotte, taking game one 8-4 before dropping the series finale 4-1 at Sunday afternoon at Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium.
After pounding out 17 hits in the first seven-inning ballgame, the Green Wave appeared headed for a series victory as Tulane held a 1-0 lead after five and half innings. But in the bottom of the sixth, the 49ers scored four runs without the benefit of a hit as four Green Wave hurlers combined for four walks, two hit batsmen and a balk to hand Charlotte the win.
With the split, Tulane is now 22-11 on the year and 6-6 in C-USA action. Charlotte, which took the series 2-1 courtesy of Friday night's 8-6 win, finishes the weekend 13-14 overall and 5-6 in league play.
The Green Wave got off to a solid start on Sunday as the first three batters got a hit in the first inning of game one, and Tulane jumped out to a 4-0 lead after the third when Aaron Feldman, Nathan Southard and Tommy Manzella hit consecutive two-out doubles in the third stanza to take control of the game.
Tulane scored single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings before Charlotte got on the board in the bottom of the sixth on back-to-back RBI-singles by Randall Poplin and Jamie Russo to cut the lead to six. One inning later, the 49ers sliced the lead in half on a two-run homer by Thomas Bowker, but Joey Charron came on for the Green Wave and got a double-play ball off the bat of Poplin to seal the win.
Freshman J.R. Crowel improved to 5-0 with the win, allowing just two runs on six hits while striking out seven and walking three in 5.1 innings of work.
The Green Wave got off to another good start in game two as senior centerfielder Jonny Kaplan hit a leadoff single, stole second, went to third on a groundout and scored on a fielding error by Charlotte third baseman Brad Lamm. Tulane had opportunities to pad its lead as Manzella hit a one-out double in the second, and Brian Bormaster and Aubrey stood on third in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively. Charlotte starter Justin Brown, however, was able to battle back on each occasion to get out of the innings unscathed.
Disaster struck in the home half of sixth inning as Green Wave starter Cory Hahn was taken out of the game after walking Poplin to lead off the inning. Charron came on for his second relief appearance of the day and got the first two batters he faced to pop up and strikeout, respectively, but the junior southpaw could not find the strikezone in the ensuing at-bats Adam Willard and Lamm drew walks.
With bases loaded, Charron hit pinch-hitter Mario Little to tie the score, and was lifted for freshman Tyler Kimmons. Before Kimmons made his first toss plateward, the rookie was called for a balk to put Charlotte ahead 2-1. Kimmons walked the only batter he faced before giving way to Will Walter who hit a batter and allowed a runner to score on a wild pitch to account for their only runs of the day. Walter struck out George Sandel to end the inning, but the damage was already done.
The Green Wave had a chance to get back in the game in the top of the seventh as Manzella ripped a leadoff single through the right side of the infield, but Brown (2-1) got Bormaster to hit into a double play before inducing a 4-3 groundout off the bat of pinch-hitter Wes Swackhamer to earn his first complete-game victory of the season.
Tulane returns to action on Tuesday, April 8 when the Green Wave travel across the Big Easy to take on cross-town foe UNO in game two of the Popeyes Cup at 6:30 p.m. at Maestri Field.