Tony Rizzotti pitches shutout as Tulane tops Alabama

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Tulane used a three-run fourth inning to win the first game of its series at Alabama, 4-0, on Friday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

Sophomore pitcher Tony Rizzotti (2-1) earned the win for the Green Wave. Rizzotti threw seven scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts, allowing five hits and a walk. He faced 26 batters and threw just 96 pitches.

Rizzotti said he changed his strategy as the game went on.

“Towards the end of the game, we just started throwing the heat,” Rizzotti said. “They weren’t really putting good contact on the ball. In the beginning of the game, they came out aggressive, so I was mixing in some sliders and fastball, but mostly fastball at the end.”

Tulane coach Rick Jones praised Rizzotti’s performance.

“It was outstanding pitching from Tony Rizzotti in the starting role,” Jones said. “That’s his third really good outing for us. Our freshman, Ian Gibaut, was really, really good for us in relief … We played really well defensively, but the story of tonight’s game was on the mound.”

It was a defensive struggle for the first two innings, with neither team able to produce offensively. But infielder Briggs Barrios opened it up in the third with an RBI single to bring in catcher Cameron Burns.

The game turned in the fourth inning as the Green Wave piled it on after a wild pitch by the Tide’s Charley Sullivan kept the inning alive and allowed infielder Sean Potkay to score.

A few pitches later, infielder Brennan Middleton used a two-run single to score infielder Garrett Cannizaro and infielder Tucker Oakley to make the score 4-0.

“Sometimes you get a break and you can cash in. Fortunately we did on that (wild) pitch,” Jones said. “You can’t count on that every game, but tonight it worked out for us.”

Tulane finished the game with 11 hits, most coming in the middle innings.

Sullivan (0-1) was charged with the loss for the Tide. Sullivan finished the game with a career-high 12 strikeouts in 5.2 innings of work. He allowed 10 hits and gave up all four earned runs.

Alabama’s bats never gave Sullivan the support he needed.

“We were a little passive tonight at the plate,” Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard said. “We should have been a lot more aggressive against that fastball. I know their kid is good and he puts up a lot of good numbers, but we have to generate more opportunities for ourselves offensively and we didn’t do that tonight.”

Gaspard said he plans to shake up the lineup, particularly at the designated hitter spot, in hopes of generating more offense.

With the win, the Green wave improves to 5-5, while the Crimson Tide fell to 7-2 on the year.

The second game of the series will take place at 2:05 p.m. today, with the series finale scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Sunday.

Saturday’s starters are right-hander Alex Byo (0-1, 1.35 ERA) for Tulane and left-hander Jon Keller (2-0, 2.70 ERA) for Alabama.