NEW ORLEANS, La.–Junior centerfielder Nathan Southard and senior shortstop Tommy Manzella each had four hits and three RBI, and junior southpaw J.R. Crowel was able to overcome a shaky start as the No. 1 Tulane University baseball team defeated third-ranked Cal State Fullerton, 13-9, Sunday afternoon in the series finale at Turchin Stadium.
Crowel gave up three runs in the first and a pair in the second, but would allow just one hit over the next 3.1 innings before giving way to sophomore right-hander Brandon Gomes. Gomes, who earned the victory in Tuesday's 6-2 win at LSU, would fan three and give up just one earned run the rest of the way to give the Green Wave their first-ever victory over the Titans. With the win, Tulane improves to 15-3 on the year. Cal State Fullerton, meanwhile, falls to 14-3.
"J.R. showed his grit there," head coach Rick Jones said. "I don't know if I've played a club in recent memory that has the offensive ability that Fullerton has. At any moment they can erupt. No lead is big enough. That's why we kept trying to stretch it late, get more runs, and it helped.
"Today was not going to be the end-all. That club won the national championship last year and was 15-16 at one point. They're the defending national champions that lost only two starters. It gives us confidence that if we stay aggressive, other teams are going to have days like we had Friday night."
Tulane out-hit the Titans 19-9, marking the first time Cal State Fullerton failed to post a double-digit hit total since a a five-hit showing vs. Stanford in its second game of 2005 (Feb. 5). Manzella and Southard were joined in the multiple-hit club by senior second baseman Joe Holland, who went 3-for-5 with a double and two runs scored, and seniors Scott Madden and Matt Barket, who had two knocks apiece.
After taking early leads en route to 15-1 and 9-8 wins in the first two games of the series, Cal State Fullerton followed a similar script on Sunday as first baseman Brett Pill hit a two-run homer and designated hitter Felipe Garcia smoked an RBI-triple off the wall in dead center to give the Titans a 3-0 lead after a half inning of play.
This time, Tulane would answer as the first four batters posted hits, including an RBI-double by Madden and a run-scoring single by junior right fielder Brian Bogusevic. The Green Wave would tie the score on an RBI-groundout by senior catcher Greg Dini, but the Titans reclaimed the lead in the second on a two-out, two-run homer by second baseman Justin Turner.
The Green Wave would load the bases in the bottom of the frame, and Southard tied things up at 6-all with a three-run double down the left field line. Manzella would give Tulane the lead for good with an RBI-single up the middle, and his hit would chase Titans' starter Scott Sarver from the game. An error, and flyout and a fielder's choice later, Barket looped and RBI-single to center to make it an 8-5 ballgame.
With the lead, Crowel settled down to toss a scoreless third, face the minimum in the fourth and get the benefit of a triple play in the fifth. The Green Wave bats, meanwhile, gave the crafty lefty a little insurance in the third as Tulane loaded the bases in the third via a walk by junior first baseman Micah Owings, a double by Holland and a single by Southard. From there, the home team played station-to-station baseball and scored runs on RBI base hits by Manzella and Madden before CSF reliever Adam Jorgenson would get out of the frame with a strikeout and a double-play.
Jorgenson would keep Tulane off the board over the next three innings, and the Titans' offense would begin to chip away at the lead with single runs in the sixth and seventh frames. In the bottom of the seventh, though, the Green Wave were able to plated a couple of runs as Southard scored on a balk and Cat Everett, who came on to pinch run for Owings earlier in the frame, scored on an RBI-fielder's choice ball off the bat of Madden.
Everett also provided Tulane with its final run of the ballgame one inning later with a clutch, two-out single through the right side of the infield to score Dini from third.
Cal State Fullerton took advantage of a ninth-inning error to plate a pair on a towering, two-run homer by right fielder Sergio Pedroza to cut the lead to four, but that would be as close as it would get as Gomes struck out Pill to end the contest and earn the first save of his career.
The Green Wave return to action on Tuesday, March 15, when they play host to Texas Southern at 6:30 p.m. at Turchin Stadium. Following the midweek matchup with the Tigers, Tulane will open Conference USA play over the weekend against defending league champion East Carolina. For ticket information, contact the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office at (504) 861-WAVE.
No.1 Tulane Defeats Fullerton State, 13-9
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