NEW ORLEANS, La.–In three seasons and 52 starts as a collegiate pitcher, junior right-hander Micah Owings had never thrown a complete game. He picked a fine time to get his first.
With the Green Wave facing elimination following a 9-5 loss on Saturday, Owings tossed a complete-game, three-hit shutout from the mound and added a pair of hits and two RBI from the plate as Tulane evened the best-of-three NCAA New Orleans Super Regional vs. the Owls with a 7-0 victory Sunday afternoon at Turchin Stadium.
"When your back's against the wall like ours was today against a club like Rice, you're going to have to have a great performance, and we had a great one today from Micah Owings," Tulane head coach Rick Jones said. "I don't know if you see many better than that one."
Tulane held a 1-0 lead after eight innings, but sent 10 to the plate in the top of the ninth as the Green Wave plated six runs on five hits and took advantage of a pair of free passes to blow the game open. With the win, Tulane improves to 54-10 on the year and forces a winner-take-all game three on Monday, with scheduled first pitch to be decided by ESPN later today. Rice, meanwhile, falls to 45-18.
Owings (11-4) faced just three more than the minimum, struck out eight and did not allow more than one base runner in any inning. He took advantage of a flawless day by the Green Wave defense, and aided the effort by picking off a baserunner at first to end the sixth inning. From there, Owings retired the next eight men he faced, and stranded a ninth-inning, two-out single by Rice second baseman Greg Buchanan with a fly ball to left to extend the Super Regional to Monday.
Owings and Rice starter Joe Savery were locked in a pitchers' duel early on as the pair combined to give up just four hits in the first six innings. Senior shortstop Tommy Manzella recorded the Green Wave's third hit of the day with a leadoff single in the seventh, but it looked as if Savery would escape the inning unharmed as he got a pair of fly ball outs and induced a ground ball to first off the bat of junior right fielder Brian Bogusevic.
Bogusevic, however, legged out a single to load the bases, and pinch hitter Scott Madden drew a walk to account for the only run the Green Wave needed.
After stranding a runner at second in the eighth, Tulane provided Owings with some breathing room in the final frame as sophomore first baseman Mark Hamilton singled and Bogusevic walked to put a pair on. From there, reserve left fielder Matt Riser – who replaced Madden defensively following the seventh-inning walk and stepped to the plate with just four at-bats all year – came through with a clutch RBI single up the middle to make it 2-0.
Senior second baseman Joe Holland followed with an RBI double, junior centerfielder Nathan Southard was plunked to load the bases, and Manzella and Owings belted back-to-back, two-run doubles to account for the final score.
Savery (8-5) was every bit as effective as Owings in a 6.2 inning start, but was tagged with the loss after giving up a run on four hits while walking three and striking out four. Lance Pendleton, who started the game in right field, gave up four runs on as many hits in 1.2 innings of relief, and Cole St. Clair did not fare much better with a pair of runs on two hits in 2/3 frames.
Junior southpaw J.R. Crowel (10-1, 5.15 ERA) will take the hill for the Green Wave on Monday and will be matched up with Rice junior right-hander Eddie Degerman (8-1, 3.07 ERA). The winner of the New Orleans Super Regional finale will advance to play in the 2005 College World Series in Omaha, Neb., which begins on June 17 at Rosenblatt Stadium.
Owings Pitches Tulane Past Rice, 7-0
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