Cannizaro’s grand slam powers Tulane past UTSA

Tulane pitcher David Napoli said he felt pretty good in his first start since suffering a forearm injury about two weeks ago.

“It felt great to get back out there,” Napoli said. “It’s been about two weeks I guess, so it felt awesome to get back out there and face hitters again.”

But he said it felt even better after he saw teammate Garrett Cannizaro send his first college grand slam over the left field fence in the bottom of the first inning, sparking a five-run start to an 8-3 Green Wave baseball win over Texas-San Antonio.

“It felt real great after Garrett hit that,” Napoli said. “That was the best feeling in the world to get five runs in the first inning, especially when you’re just coming back.”

The left-handed senior out of Newman made the most of his strict 50-pitch count against Texas-San Antonio on Sunday, allowing one run on two hits and striking out five — all of them looking — in three innings of work in finale of the three-game nonconference series.

“I just had my curve ball going,” Napoli said. “That was probably the best I’ve thrown my curve ball for strikes.”

Relievers Kyle McKenzie, Daniel Rankin and Andrew Garner combined to hold the Roadrunners to five hits. Texas scored two runs in the sixth inning when McKenzie gave up a pair of walks and a pair of singles. Rankin inherited loaded bases and allowed a sacrifice fly to score the second run, then got lead-off man Riley Good to ground out to end the inning. Rankin gave up a single in the seventh and hit a batter in the eighth. Garner retired the Roadrunners in order in the ninth.

The Green Wave got help in a couple of spots from the Roadrunners, who were battling a quick-spreading stomach virus throughout the weekend. Starting pitcher Nolan Trabanino gave up a lead-off double to Brennan Middleton and walked Blake Crohan. Brandon Boudreaux put down a sacrifice bunt that Roadrunner third baseman Horacio Correa III failed to field. That loaded the bases for Sean Potkay, who drew an RBI walk. And that set the stage for Cannizaro, who sent a shot over the left-field wall.

“I was very excited,” said Cannizaro, who recalled hitting one grand slam in his high school career at Mandeville. “I was really just looking for a pitch to drive. I just tried to put the barrel on it and get a good swing.”

The Wave got three more runs in the fourth. Leading off the inning, Bowen Woodson was hit by a pitch, and Middleton walked. After a pitching change, Crohan hit into a fielder’s choice that got Woodson thrown out at home. Boudreaux then walked to load the bases. But Potkay’s pop up to shallow right dropped among three Roadrunner fielders for a hit that allowed all three runs to score.

“Those kinds of things just haven’t happened for us much this year,” Tulane coach Rick Jones said. “Teams have been fielding .983 against us coming in . Nobody was making any errors. When the third baseman didn’t pick up the bunt, that was a break for us. And then with bases loaded, that ball got caught up in the wind. That was the first time we really had anything like that happen for us. I mean, .983 is hard to explain, that kind of defense.”