Senior centerfielder Jonny Kaplan made a statement in his final regular-season contest in front of the home crowd at Turchin Stadium, going 3-for-5 with a three-run homer and three stolen bases as the Tulane University baseball team took the rubber match of the series against Conference USA foe East Carolina Saturday afternoon to clinch the Green Wave's 40th win of the year in a 10-run-rule shortened game that was halted in the seventh inning.
While not playing his final game at Turchin Stadium as the Conference USA Tournament will be played at Tulane's on-campus facility beginning on Wednesday, May 21, Kaplan made the most of his Senior Day outing as one of three Green Wave players to tally three hits in the win. Junior catcher Brian Bormaster also had three hits, including a double and an RBI, in four official at-bats, and sophomore left fielder Wes Swackhamer went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, five RBI and a walk in Saturday's lopsided victory.
With the win, Tulane won its sixth C-USA series of the year to improve to 40-16 overall and 20-10 in league action. The 40 wins marked the seventh time in 10 seasons under head coach Rick Jones that Tulane won at least 40 games. East Carolina, meanwhile, falls to 31-23-1 on the year and finishes 17-13 in conference play.
Swackhamer was the beneficiary of a Tulane single-game record four-walk day by junior first baseman Michael Aubrey, who was handed an intentional pass in his first three plate appearances, and the transfer from the University of Florida made the Pirates pay with a pair of two-RBI doubles and a run-scoring single following Aubrey's walks. Aubrey, meanwhile, scored each time he was walked to bring his regular-season run-scoring total to 64, which is tied for second on the team.
Freshman starter Billy Mohl recorded his first career complete-game after giving up four runs on four hits while walking one and striking out a pair to improve to 5-2 on the year. Mohl gave up a pair of home runs in the first four innings, but after Pirate designated hitter Adam Witter hit a leadoff round-tripper in the fourth to tie the game at 4-all, the rookie right-hander did not allow a hit the rest of the way and only one East Carolina batter reached base in the final three innings as catcher Jake Smith got on board via an error in the sixth.
The Green Wave held a commanding 9-4 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh, and the Pirates looked as if they were going to push the game to at least the eighth inning as reliever Scott Andrews sandwiched a pair of strikeouts around a walk to sophomore second baseman Tommy Manzella.
Andrews would not last the inning, however, as Bormaster singled to keep the stanza alive before Kaplan crushed a 2-1 pitch over the screen in left field for his ninth home run of the year to give Tulane a 12-4 lead. Kaplan's bomb chased Andrews from the game, but Brett Williams did not fare much better as he walked junior shortstop Tony Giarratano and Aubrey before Swackhamer roped his second double of the day down the right-field line to account for the final score.
Tulane wasted little time getting on the scoreboard as the Green Wave plated a pair of runs in the first when Kaplan singled to open the stanza, stole second base, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and following an intentional walk to Aubrey, scored on double steal. Aubrey went to third on an errant throw to second, and scored on at-bat later when freshman left fielder Brian Bogusevic reached on an error by Pirate shortstop Darryl Lawhorn.
The lead would not last long, however, as Lawhorn opened the second with a leadoff single to left and Smith followed with a two-run homer to tie the game at 2-2. Tulane went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the frame, and East Carolina took the lead in the third when Ryan Jones drew a two-out walk, advanced to second when Mohl plunked Ryan Norwood, and Lawhorn delivered an RBI-double to center to give the Pirates a 3-2 lead.
Like Tulane's lead in the first, the East Carolina advantage would not last the inning as Kaplan singled and stole second to open the stanza, and following a groundout by Giarratano and another intentional walk to Aubrey, Swackhamer ripped a run-scoring single through the right side of the infield to plate Kaplan, and Bogusevic followed with an RBI-single to left to give Tulane a 4-3 lead.
East Carolina tied the score on Witter's leadoff home run in the fourth, but that would be the last hit Mohl would allow. In the bottom of the inning, pinch hitter Turner Brumby – who came on for injured third baseman Tim Guidry with a 3-2 count – drew a one-out walk and stole second, and Bormaster doubled down the left-field line to give Tulane a 5-4 lead they would not relinquish. Kaplan grounded out to third for the second out of the stanza, but Tulane plated some insurance runs as Giarratano belted a run-scoring double to center, and following another intentional walk to Aubrey, Swackhamer ripped a two-RBI double to right to give Tulane an 8-4 advantage.
Giarratano pushed the lead to five with a solo home run to right center in the sixth, and Tulane ended the game one inning later with four runs on three hits and a trio of walks.
Tulane opens C-USA Tournament action with a 7:30 p.m. showdown with sixth-seeded South Florida.
Conference USA Tournament Bracket
Wednesday, May 21
Game 1: No. 4 Houston vs. No. 5 East Carolina, 9:00 a.m.
Game 2: No. 1 Southern Miss vs. No. 8 Charlotte, 12:30 p.m.
Game 3: No. 2 TCU vs. No. 7 Louisville, 4:00 p.m.
Game 4: No. 3 Tulane vs. No. 6 South Florida, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 22
Game 5: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 Loser, 9:00 a.m.
Game 6: Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 Loser, 12:30 p.m.
Game 7: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 4:00 p.m.
Game 8: Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, May 23
Game 9: Loser Game 7 vs. Winner Game 5, 3:00 p.m.
Game 10: Loser Game 8 vs. Winner Game 6, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 24
Game 11: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 9, 9:00 a.m.
Game 12: Winner Game 8 vs. Winner Game 10, 12:30 p.m.
Game 13: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 9 (if necessary), 4:00 p.m.
Game 14: Winner Game 8 vs. Winner Game 10 (if necessary), 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 25
Game 15: Championship Game, 1:00 p.m. (Broadcast Live on ESPN Regional)
Wave Claims Series from ECU with 14-4 Rout
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