Tulane snaps skid with 5-3 victory against UNO

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTONTulane's Brennan Middleton catches a throw at second base, forcing out UNO's Chaz Boyer, before turning a double play to finish off a 5-3 victory Wednesday at Turchin Stadium in New Orleans.
Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTONTulane's Brennan Middleton catches a throw at second base, forcing out UNO's Chaz Boyer, before turning a double play to finish off a 5-3 victory Wednesday at Turchin Stadium in New Orleans.

Tulane snaps skid with 5-3 victory against Privateers

NEW ORLEANS — Tulane’s 5-3 win over crosstown rival UNO on Wednesday at Turchin Stadium was a hard-earned end to a rough losing streak.

For the Privateers, it was a disheartening missed opportunity to post their first huge win of the college baseball season.

With the victory, Tulane (4-5) snapped a four-game skid on a day when five Green Wave pitchers took the mound.

Junior left-hander Brady Wilson picked up the win, his first of the season.

“We needed that so bad, just to feel like you can win a ballgame,” Tulane coach Rick Jones said.

In the other dugout, the Privateers (0-9) were frustrated after out-hitting Tulane 9-5 but stranding eight base runners. UNO also had a devastating, ill-timed error and a balk. UNO now remains winless at 0-9.

“We can’t get a key hit; our outfielders don’t call a ball; three of their walks score,” UNO score Bruce Peddie said. “That’s not a good recipe for a win.”

Tulane starting pitcher Daniel Rankin began the top of the second with a leadoff walk to UNO third baseman Jonathan Coco. After designated hitter Andre Damiens struck out looking, Morgan Barger smacked a high home run to right-center, giving the Privateers a 2-0 lead.

UNO shortstop Zach Liberto followed with a single, which led to Tulane pulling Rankin for Wilson. The new pitcher gave up another single, this one to Chaz Boyer, allowing Liberto to advance to third. A sacrifice fly by Zach Pohto scored Liberto, extending the UNO lead to 3-0.

But the Privateers left two runners on base that inning, and that was the start of a pattern.

Privateers starter Stone Speer began the bottom of the second by surrendering a leadoff double to rightfielder Andrew Garner.

Garrett Cannizaro produced a sacrifice fly that moved Garner to third, and Speer then balked, scoring Garner. Tucker Oakley walked before Boyer and Barger nearly ran into each other Bowen Woodson’s high fly to right-center. The ball tumbled to the ground, Oakley moved to second, and Boyer was tagged with an error.

Wave catcher Cameron Burns walked to load the bases, and Brennan Middleton came through with a two-run single to tie the score.

Middleton then moved to third on two passed balls. Tim Yandel drove in Middleton with a sacrifice fly for what proved to be the winning run. The inning finally ended when Wave centerfielder Brandon Boudreaux fouled out.

Peddie said Speer (0-2) simply needs to step up his game as the team’s leader.

“Stone needs to be better than that, no doubt about it,” Peddie said. “We need him to go deeper into the game than that.”

The Wave, meanwhile, felt good about capitalizing on the Privateers’ mistakes.

“We’re focusing more on executing and doing the small things right: getting bunts down, hit and runs, getting those runners in from second and third with less than two outs,” Middleton said. “It’s crucial for us when we play better opponents and on the road.”

Tulane added an insurance run in the seventh with UNO reliever Garrett Manning on the mound by capitalizing on even more Privateer missteps — another passed ball, a hit batsman and two straight wild pitches.

Meanwhile, UNO stranded runners in the fourth, sixth and eighth. The eighth frame was especially awful, when the Privateers had runners on second and third with one out but failed to plate any runs thanks to inning-ending strikeouts by Damiens and Barger.

The Privateers embark on a six-game road trip before returning home to host Alcorn State on March 12.

“We still have a lot of games left,” Barger said. “We have to keep getting better, come out and start winning games.”

The Green Wave heads to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for a three-game series against Alabama. The fact that Tulane was able to post a comeback Wednesday helped significantly, Middleton said.

“The mindset that we’re taught is to not get down,” he said. “Obviously, it’s early in the ball game there, we have a lot of innings left, a lot of bats left, and we’ve got a good pitcher on the mound,” he said. “We didn’t panic. We played one pitch at a time, one inning at a time. That’s really huge for us and very important.”

“Our confidence level is still high,” he added. “It’s still early in the season. We have a great ball club, a great pitching staff, great offensive lineup with returning starters. We have a good team here, and we are very confident, and we’re not going to fair from that.”

Added Jones: “We are just not where we need to be yet. I think we can be if we get healthier on the mound and get all of our guys in the lineup. I think we still have the chance to be a good club, I really do. I’ve thought so all along.”