HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Tulane notched 11 hits and got solid pitching performances from Tony Rizzotti and Ian Gibaut to take a 3-2 victory over Southern Miss in the first game of their Conference USA baseball series.
Seniors Brennan Middleton and Blake Crohan and junior Bowen Woodson all went 2-for-4 at the plate, and five other hitters collected a hit for Tulane (16-16, 4-3).
Meanwhile, Rizzotti and Gibaut stymied Southern Miss (11-17, 3-4) all evening, allowing just four hits.
“It was our best offensive approach in a long time,” Tulane coach Rick Jones said. “It was kind of frustrating that we only got three runs to show for it. But when you have Tony Rizzotti and Ian Gibaut on the mound, you have pitching that we have banked on all year.”
With a 3-2 lead to begin the bottom of the eighth, Gibaut replaced Rizzotti (5-3) on the mound, and he walked Southern Miss’ Isaac Rodriguez to lead off.
The Golden Eagles’ Mason Robbins then hit a ball toward second base that could’ve become a double play, but Gibaut tipped the ball with his glove, allowing both runners to reach safely.
But when Southern Miss sent Michael Sterling in to pinch-hit, he bunted into a double play that forced Rodriguez out at third and Sterling out at first. Despite the protests from Sterling and Southern Miss coach Scott Berry that the ball hit Sterling’s hand on his bunt attempt, the umpires ruled that the ball hit the bat. Chase Fowler then flew out to center field to end the inning.
“That was a very heads-up play by Blake, because he got the force-out at third instead of tagging the batter, meaning we would have had to tag the runner coming into third,” Jones said. “That would have changed the entire game.”
Gibaut struck out Blake Brown and Travis Creel before getting Jared Bales to fly out to right field, ending the contest.
The Greenies got their offense going early. They strung together three hits in the top of the first, capped by an RBI single through the right side by senior Brandon Boudreaux. With two outs, senior Garrett Cannizaro notched the fourth hit of the inning, sending a shot through the left side — but the Golden Eagles’ Breck Kline threw Crohan out at the plate when he attempted to score from second base.
Rizzotti went seven innings, striking out five and allowing only three hits. Gibaut pitched the final two innings, striking out two.
The teams play again at 2 p.m. Saturday.
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