NEW ORLEANS, La.–Sophomore right-hander Brandon Gomes struck out seven in eight innings of work and the Green Wave offense was able to put together a couple of big innings as the No. 3 Tulane University baseball team defeated No. 25 East Carolina, 13-6, in Conference USA action Saturday afternoon at Turchin Stadium.
Tulane jumped out to a 7-0 lead, but the Pirates plated a single run in the fifth and a pair in the top of the seventh to make things interesting. The Green Wave would thwart any talks of a comeback with six runs in the home half of the seventh courtesy of three-run homers by second baseman Joe Holland and shortstop Tommy Manzella to put the game away.
Gomes pitched efficiently for Tulane, giving up four runs on 11 hits, but did not walk a batter and got the benefit of some outstanding plays behind him, including a pair of highlight-reel catches by junior centerfielder Nathan Southard. With the win, Tulane clinches its second consecutive C-USA opening series victory as the Green Wave improve to 18-3 on the year and 2-0 in league play. East Carolina, meanwhile, falls to 12-6 overall and 0-2 in conference action.
Eight of the nine Tulane starters had a hit, including three hits each by Manzella and senior right fielder Matt Barket. Making the first start of his career, freshman Sean Morgan went 2-for-5 with a double as the team's designated hitter, and he was joined on the two-hit list by Southard and Holland.
The Green Wave did not waste much time getting on the board as Manzella ripped a one-out double in the first and came home to score on an RBI-single by senior first baseman Scott Madden to stake Tulane to a 1-0 lead. Following a scoreless second, Barket made it a 3-0 game with a two-run single in the third, and sophomore left fielder opened the gates on a four-run fourth with a towering two-run homer to right.
The Pirates would not go away quietly though, as centerfielder Brian Cavanaugh hit a leadoff single in the fifth, advanced the bases on a wild pitch and a groundout, and scored on a RBI grounder off the bat of shortstop Billy Richardson to make it a 7-1 ballgame.
Two innings later, East Carolina got back-to-back doubles by Cavanaugh and second baseman Dale Mollenhauer to open the seventh, and an RBI-single by right fielder Harrison Eldridge cut the lead to four at 7-3.
ECU's Jason Neitz had been able to keep Tulane off the board for a pair of innings after coming on to replace starter Mike Flye to begin the fifth inning, and retired the first two men he faced in the bottom of the seventh. From there, however, Morgan sparked a two-out rally with a double and pinch-hitter Micah Owings was intentionally walked before Holland hit his second home run in as many days to give Tulane some breathing room at 10-3. A double by Southard and a walk by Emaus would bring Brett Braxton from the Pirate bullpen, but Manzella would turn on the second pitch Braxton threw and sent it high over the wall in left to give Tulane a commanding 13-3 advantage.
The Pirates would get one of the runs back in the eighth on a solo homer by first baseman Adam Witter, and plated a pair of unearned runs in the ninth, but the lead was too large to overcome as the Green Wave clinched the series.
The Green Wave and Pirates close out the weekend on Sunday with first pitch slated for 1 p.m. For ticket information, contact the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office at (504) 861-WAVE.
Big Innings Propel Wave Past ECU, 13-6
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