Andrew Garner hits for cycle; Tulane thumps UCF

ORLANDO, Fla. — Andrew Garner became the first Tulane player in 12 years to hit for the cycle, and the Green Wave offense exploded for the second straight game, collecting 20 hits in a 15-9 victory over UCF on Saturday at Jay Bergman Field.

Garner was 5-for-5 with two runs and seven RBIs, tying him for the second-most RBIs in a single game in Tulane history. As for the cycle, he clinched it in dramatic fashion.

Garner’s memorable day at the plate started quietly, as he drew a first-inning walk.

He followed with a single in the third, then hit back-to-back doubles — one to left-center in the fourth, and another down the left-field line in the sixth.

Garner tripled in the seventh, scoring two runs to give the Greenies an 11-5 lead.

That left him in need of a home run. Garner — who had one homer all season — came to the plate in the top of the ninth inning, with one out and two runners on.

He ripped a long fly ball over the left-field fence, completing the cycle.

It was the first cycle by a Tulane player since Michael Aubrey did it in 2001.

“Garner’s performance is pretty impressive, considering the last person to do it is the highest draft pick in Tulane history,” Tulane coach Rick Jones said. “He had a tremendous day. He played well defensively, and at the plate, he just got on some balls.”

Garner’s seven RBIs tied him with Mark Hamilton, Jake Gautreau (twice), Keith Graffagnini and Tookie Spann for the second-most RBIs in a single game in school history.

It was the second straight game in which Tulane’s offense — largely dormant during this season, rarely able to help its superb pitching staff — scored in bunches. On Friday, the Green Wave scored seven runs in the first five innings of an 8-1 win.

On Saturday, Tulane (27-24, 10-10 Conference USA) clinched the series over UCF (27-24, 11-9).

The Greenies recorded 20 hits for the first time since they did so March 7, 2010, against Ole Miss. Bowen Woodson and Tucker Oakley each went 3-for-5 at the plate with an RBI. Brandon Boudreaux went 3-for-6 with two RBIs, and Garrett Cannizaro and Cameron Burns added two hits each.

“Our guys really came out with some great approaches at the plate,” Jones said. “We had some really great two-strike approaches. With the way we were wounded today (with an injury to Brennan Middleton), who would have thought we would have hit the way we did?”

Tulane scored two runs in the first inning off UCF starter Chris Matulis, the former LSU pitcher. Matulis hit freshman Richard Carthon on the first pitch of the game, then issued a walk to Nick DiMaggio. Cannizaro bunted both of the runners over, and Matulis (5-4) walked Garner to load the bases. Potkay then hit an RBI single to right field, and Boudreaux followed with an RBI fielder’s choice.

David Napoli started for the Green Wave, but left after giving up five runs in four innings. Napoli gave way to Kyle McKenzie (3-2), who lasted the next four-plus innings and earned the win despite giving up four more runs.

The Wave took a 15-6 lead into the bottom of the ninth.

Emerson Gibbs got the final three outs for Tulane.

McKenzie allowed four runs on five hits. He struck out four and walked four.

Matulis lasted only 3.2 innings. He allowed five runs on six hits, with three walks and no strikeouts.