TAMPA, Fla.–Senior shortstop Tommy Manzella went 4-for-7, with a grand slam in the fifth and the game-winning RBI-single with two out in the 12th, as the top-ranked Tulane University baseball team defeated Conference USA foe USF in a 12-inning thriller Friday evening at Red McEwan Field.
With the score knotted at 7-all after nine innings, neither team could scratch across a run in the next two frames, but senior catcher Greg Dini hit a leadoff single in the 12th, advanced the bases on a sacrifice bunt by junior centerfielder Nathan Southard and fly ball to center off the bat of junior right fielder Brian Bogusevic. Manzella came through with a clutch hit through the left side of the infield to plate the go-ahead run, and freshman reliever Sean Morgan kept the Bulls off the scoreboard in the home half of the frame to seal the victory.
With the win, Tulane remains undefeated in extra inning games this season while improving to 37-7 overall and 15-4 in C-USA action. USF, meanwhile, falls to 25-22 on the year and 10-8 in league play.
Morgan (6-0) earned the win after tossing 3.2 scoreless innings, striking out four and walking three while giving up a trio of hits, but it would not come easy.
He came on for sophomore reliever Daniel Latham with two on and one out in the ninth and the Green Wave nursing a 7-5 lead. Left fielder Tim Orlosky was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and a strikeout later, right fielder Bryan Heirlmeier hit an infield single to third to make it a one-run game. From there, third baseman Jeff Baisley drew a bases-loaded walk to tie the game, but Morgan would bounce back to strike out Daniels to force extra innings.
Both teams threatened over the next two frames as Tulane and USF combined to strand six on base, including four in scoring position, but it was Manzella who delivered the final blow in the 12th. The Green Wave out-hit the Bulls 16-13 for the game, including three hits by Southard and two-hit ballgames from Dini and Bogusevic.
Tulane got on the board first when senior left fielder Matt Barket reached on a walk one out into the second, advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt, and scored on an RBI-single by Dini. The Bulls would answer with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame when first baseman Matt McHargue and designated hitter Nick Cardieri hit singles, and Bellotti ripped a two-run hit down the right-field line to make it a 2-1 ballgame.
In the fourth, USF catcher Brian Baisley hit a leadoff single in the fourth, advanced to third on a single by shortstop Dexter Butler and scored on a failed double-steal attempt. An inning later, however, the Green Wave sandwiched a base hit by Southard between walks to Dini and freshman third baseman Brad Emaus, and Manzella hit an opposite field grand slam to right to give Tulane a 5-3 advantage.
The lead would not last long as McHargue led off the sixth with a single and Baisley followed with a towering, two-run homer to left to tie the ballgame. Tulane would reclaim the lead with a clutch, two-out rally as Dini walked, Southard singled, and Emaus ripped an RBI-double to left to give the Green Wave a 6-5 lead. Senior designated hitter Scott Madden hammered a solo home run in the top of the ninth to give Tulane a two-run lead, before Bulls' rally in the home half of the frame.
Tulane and USF return to action on Saturday with first pitch slated for noon (CDT), and the two teams are slated to close out the weekend on Sunday at 11 a.m. Impending weather, however, may force the two teams to play a doubleheader on Saturday, but that decision will be made prior to Saturday's ballgame.
Tulane Defeats South Florida 8-7 in 12 Innings
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