NEW ORLEANS, La.–Southpaw J.R. Crowel and right-handers Billy Mohl and Daniel Latham combined for a no-hitter and came within a hit batsmen of a perfect game as the top-ranked Tulane University baseball team defeated Nicholls State, 3-0, Tuesday evening at Turchin Stadium.
The Green Wave offense tallied eight hits, including an RBI-double by freshman first baseman Brad Emaus and a 2-for-3 performance by senior left fielder Matt Barket, but the game belonged to the pitching staff as Tulane posted its first no-hitter since March 8, 1998, when Josh Bobbitt accomplished the feat in a 7-0, seven-inning victory over New York Tech.
"Pitching wise and defensively, we were tremendous," head coach Rick Jones said. "That's how we won the game. Three guys pitched it well. I've had no-hitters pitched, and while I've never been part of a perfect game, we came real close tonight."
The win gives the Green Wave a three-game regular-season sweep of the Colonels, runs their winning streak over Nicholls State to 12 games, and improves their overall record to 36-7. Nicholls State, meanwhile, falls to 19-24 in 2005.
Crowel started the contest and pitched a pair of three-up, three-down innings before giving way to Mohl (3-0), who struck out three in six innings of no-hit baseball. From there, Latham came on in the ninth and struck out the first two men he faced before inducing a come-back grounder off the bat of leadoff hitter Michael Roberts to earn his seventh save of the season.
"I was spotting my pitches well," Mohl said. "Coming in during the third, I didn't know what to expect, but after hitting my spots inside and out, I knew I was going to have a good night. In (the seventh), I was starting to get a little tired, but I didn't miss many pitches tonight. I may have missed a couple with my curveball, but with my fastball, I had the best command of it that I had all year."
The lone blemish of the night came when Mohl nipped the shirt sleeve of Colonel centerfielder Josh Thomas, who was attempting to bunt on a 2-0 count with two down in the eight inning. Thomas would steal second to get a runner in scoring position, but Mohl would bounce back to get catcher Michael Muscato to groundout harmlessly to short to get out of the inning unscathed.
All told, the arms of Crowel, Mohl and Latham tossed just 98 total pitches in a game that was three minutes shy of the two hour mark. And while it took a while for the offense to get going, the Green Wave bats would come alive in the middle innings.
Nicholls State starter Ray Labat retired the first seven men he faced, and erased a one-out single by freshman third baseman Cat Everett with a double-play ball to end the third. Tulane stranded a runner at second base in the fourth, had another single erased by a double play in the fifth, and stranded another runner later in the frame.
In the sixth, however, Tulane would get on the board when senior catcher Greg Dini ripped a leadoff single to center, advanced to second when junior centerfielder Nathan Southard was hit by a pitch, and scored on Emaus' RBI double down the left field line. Southard would score one at-bat later when senior shortstop Tommy Manzella hit into a fielder's choice to short, but NSU middle infielder Tim Daigle's throw home was wide of Muscato to make it a 2-0 affair.
Barket followed Dini's lead with a leadoff single in the seventh, advanced the bases on a sacrifice bunt by Everett and a flyball off the bat of Dini, and touched the paystation on a clutch, two-out single by Southard to close out the scoring.
Labat threw well for Nicholls State, but was tagged with the loss after giving up a pair of runs (one earned) in 5.2 innings of work. Aaron George allowed a run on two hits in 1.1 frames of relief, and Bubba Bell, who began the game in right field, tossed a perfect eighth.
The Green Wave return to action on Friday, April 29, when they travel to Tampa, Fla., to open a three-game Conference USA series at USF beginning at 6 p.m. (CDT). The two teams will battle again on Saturday at noon, and Tulane and USF will close out the weekend on Sunday with first pitch slated for 11 a.m.
No. 1 Tulane No-Hits Nicholls State In 3-0 Win
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