Tulane jumped out to a 2-0 lead after plating single runs in the first and second innings, but the Cougars tied the score with two runs in the bottom of the second and another in the fifth to clinch the series. The two teams will close out the regular season on Saturday with first pitch slated for 1 p.m.
The Green Wave made some noise in the top of the ninth as junior shortstop Tommy Manzella drew a leadoff walk, and sophomore right fielder Brian Bogusevic hit a two-out single through the right side of the infield. But with a 1-0 count to freshman designated hitter Mark Hamilton, Cougar catcher Rob Johnson took the pitch from closer Brandon Roznovsky, made a snap-throw down the line where first baseman Thanos Papavasiliou picked off Bogusevic to end the game.
With the loss, Tulane falls to 37-17 on the year and 20-9 in C-USA action. News got worse for the Green Wave after the game as the score from Hattiesburg, Miss., was 6-5 in favor of Southern Miss over East Carolina which means Tulane falls to third in the conference and the Golden Eagles claim sole possession of second place in the league standings. Houston, meanwhile, improves to 28-26 overall and 19-10 in league play. Tulane drew first blood as junior left fielder Matt Barket ripped the first pitch thrown him by starter Garrett Mock to left center for a double, went to third on a groundout by Manzella and came around to score on an RBI grounder to second off the bat of junior first baseman Wes Swackhamer to give the Green Wave a 1-0 lead.
The Green Wave doubled its advantage one inning later with Brian Bogusevic batting when Bogusevic hit the first pitch for a leadoff single, went to third on an error by Mock, and scored on a double-play ball to make it a 2-0 ballgame.
The lead would not last long, however, as Cougar second baseman Cole Bruce and Papavasiliou hit back-to-back singles to open the bottom of the second, third baseman Nick Bott cut the advantage to one with an RBI double, and right fielder Matt Farrington tied the score with a sacrifice fly to center.
Tulane had a chance to tie things up in the top of the sixth as Barket hit a leadoff single, went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Manzella. Following a pop-up by Swackhamer, junior catcher Greg Dini ripped a base hit through the left side of the infield. Barket rounded third hard, but Cougar left fielder Travis Tully made an outstanding throw to the plate to cut him down and end the inning. After the first two innings, three Cougar pitchers combined to limit the Green Wave to just two hits and three baserunners over the next six innings. Mock (4-5) earned the win, striking out three and walking one while scattering four hits in a seven-inning start. Rickey Putman walked one and struck out one in 1.1 innings of relief, and Roznovsky slammed the door of Tulane with two thirds of an inning to earn his ninth save of the season.
Tulane sophomore Billy Mohl pitched admirably in his first start since April 27, striking out two and walking three in 5.1 innings of work, but was tagged with the loss after giving up three earned runs on eight hits. Latham, meanwhile, gave up just one hit and one walk in his stint on the hill.
Following Saturday's season finale vs. the Cougars, the Green Wave return to action on Wednesday, May 26 when they open play in the 2004 Conference USA Tournament at Cougar Field. Tulane still has a shot at finishing second in the league with a win tomorrow coupled with a Southern Miss loss. If the Green Wave drops the finale, they will finish fourth. For ticket information to the league championship, contact the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office at (504) 861-WAVE.