Blazers’ rally upends Tulane

NEW ORLEANS — Senior Day ended the same way too many others have for Tulane’s large class of seniors — with a loss.

UAB rallied from a three-run deficit to beat the Green Wave 6-3 Saturday at Turchin Stadium in the regular-season finale, leaving four-year starters Garrett Cannizaro, Brennan Middleton and Brandon Boudreaux with a familiar empty feeling. They, plus eight other fellow seniors, have never won their final home game in a season.

The Green Wave (28-27, 11-13 Conference USA) also finished 16-16 at Turchin Stadium, failing to break .500 at the ballpark for the first time since it opened in 1991.

“It was a disappointing day,” Cannizaro said. “We came out with a bunch of energy, and it didn’t work out for us.

“We couldn’t get it going late in the game.”

The only saving grace was Saturday’s outcome had no effect on Tulane’s seeding for the Conference USA tournament, an event the Green Wave has to win to earn a spot in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008. The Green Wave was locked into the No. 7 spot before the game started.

Tulane will play No. 2 seed Southern Miss at 3 p.m. Wednesday, No. 3 seed East Carolina at 11 a.m. Friday and No. 6 seed Houston at 3 p.m. Saturday in the conference’s round-robin format, all at Reckling Stadium on the Rice campus in Houston. The winner of that pod will advance to the championship game next Sunday.

Middleton has started 202 games at Tulane, Cannizaro 219 and Boudreaux 204. None of them has ever been to the NCAA tournament.

“It’s tough knowing this is probably my last time playing on this field, but all our focus is on the conference tournament now,” Middleton said. “It would have been nice to win that last regular season game, but if we win the conference tournament, we’re not even talking about today.”

The Green Wave lost its lead with some sloppy play. Pitcher Randy LeBlanc, who cruised through the first five innings, fell apart in the sixth after left fielder Richard Carthon dove for a two-out fly ball that landed in front of him and rolled all the way to wall, turning a single into a triple. LeBlanc gave up two singles, walked two batters and was caught unaware by a steal of home plate as UAB cut the deficit to 3-2.

A throwing error by Middleton that first baseman Sean Potkay bobbled off a clean bounce led to three runs in the seventh off Kyle McKenzie (3-3). UAB (22-34, 7-17) tacked on its final run in the ninth.

So much for the momentum Tulane had been building. The Wave, which beat UAB 15-3 on Thursday for its eighth win in 11 games, managed a total of 11 hits while losing the last two while the Blazers moved out of last place to claim the bottom seed in the tournament. UAB reliever James Naile (7-5) allowed two hits over the final six innings Saturday.

“It was a very disappointing last two days, because it would’ve given us a lift,” Jones said. “Even though it didn’t change seeding, you still want to win every game you can, and have momentum going into the conference tournament if possible.”

Boudreaux wasn’t thinking about anything else but another Senior Day loss.

“I could care less about the standings in the tournament or what this means for UAB or what this means for Tulane,” he said. “I just wanted to win the game. It’s tough to go out like that. To win on Senior Day is huge.”