At .500 in Conference USA, Tulane visits Southern Miss for weekend series

At .500 in C-USA, Tulane visits Southern Miss for weekend series

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELDTulane left-hander David Napoli delivers to the plate during a March 17 game against UTSA at Turchin Stadium. Napoli gave up two runs on three hits in eight innings Sunday against Southern Miss, but the Golden Eagles won, 2-0.
Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELDTulane left-hander David Napoli delivers to the plate during a March 17 game against UTSA at Turchin Stadium. Napoli gave up two runs on three hits in eight innings Sunday against Southern Miss, but the Golden Eagles won, 2-0.

HATTIESBURG, Miss. — For the second consecutive weekend, Tulane hits the road for a Conference USA baseball series.

The Green Wave has to hope for a better result this time.

Tulane (15-16, 3-3) faces Southern Miss (11-16, 3-3) in a series that begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday, and the Greenies are in need of a few more wins than they’ve been getting lately. They’ve dropped four of their last five games, including two of three at Rice last weekend and a 5-3 midweek loss against Nicholls State on Tuesday.

Southern Miss, of course, was set to play LSU on Tuesday at Zephyr Field in Metairie, but the game was canceled because of rain.

Last weekend, the Golden Eagles took two of three games in Orlando, Fla., from UCF. During the opening weekend of conference play, Southern Miss lost two of three to Rice.

This weekend’s matchup features teams who have performed well enough on the mound, but often struggled at the plate.

The Green Wave is batting only .245 this season, while Southern Miss is batting just a few points higher at .259.

Though both teams are at .500 in conference play, this weekend should showcase some of the C-USA’s best pitchers.

Friday night, Tulane will throw sophomore Tony Rizzotti, who pitched well in a losing effort last Friday against Rice, throwing his second complete game and striking out four.

On the season, the Rizzotti is 4-3 with a 1.87 ERA in 53 innings, notching 37 strikeouts and only 11 walks. Opponents are only hitting .228 against him.

Southern Miss will counter with Jake Drehoff, who, despite his 1-3 record, carries a respectable 3.93 ERA into Friday’s game.

Drehoff won his first contest of the season last Friday, defeating UCF 4-1. The left-hander struck out six and allowed only four hits and two walks during the contest.

In 34.1 innings this year, Drehoff has struck out 31 while walking 16.

Tulane will throw senior Alex Byo on Saturday.

Byo pitched 5.1 innings last Saturday against Rice and left the game with the lead before Tulane’s bullpen allowed three more runs in a 6-3 loss. On the year, Byo is 2-3 with a 2.58 ERA. He has walked only nine batters in 45.1 innings.

Andrew Pierce, who starts Saturday for the Golden Eagles, is 5-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 52 innings. He ranks fifth in C-USA with 51 strikeouts.

Sunday’s matchup will feature Tulane senior David Napoli, who has made three straight Sunday starts — all wins — against Southern Miss’ Conor Fisk.

Napoli allowed only three hits to Rice in Tulane’s lone win of the series.

Fisk earned his second win on the season after pitching 6.0 innings against the Knights on Sunday, striking out seven. On the year, Fisk is 2-1 with a 2.14 ERA, striking out 22 and walking eight in 21.0 innings.