UNO scores early, holds on to surprise Tulane

NEW ORLEANS — The UNO
Privateers did not rush the field.

There was no dogpile on the turf, no ice-water bath for the baseball coach. Still, it was easy to see the joy in the visitors’ dugout at Turchin Stadium as UNO celebrated a hard-fought and much appreciated 5-4
victory over Tulane on Tuesday afternoon.

The Privateers scored all their runs in the second inning with some timely hitting, then held on thanks to a solid pitching effort from Stone Speer and some stellar all-around defense.

UNO pounded 11 hits off of three Green Wave pitchers. Senior Zach Pohto had a career-first three-hit day. Zacary Hawkins went 2-for-4 with an RBI double. Chaz Boyer also had a pair of hits. Only two Privateer batters failed to get hits, but every batter reached base at least once.

After starter Stephen Potter spotted the Green Wave three runs in the first inning on three hits, relievers Blake Prest and Speer held Tulane to one run in the fifth — some of that thanks to some sparking plays in the field, more than one by shortstop Zach Liberto.

“I’m thrilled for the kids,” said UNO coach Bruce Peddie. “They battled. And they’ve come to play every day. They played nine innings today. We’re really good at, like, six and seven. We had to get over the hump, and we did that today.”

It was only the fourth victory of the season for UNO, which is struggling through a season without a home stadium and without a conference championship for which to contend. And for many of the UNO players, it was their first victory ever over their crosstown foe. And there was nothing meaningless about it.

“You have no idea,” said Pohto, whose got his three hits batting in the nine hole. “I’ve played these guys for three years now. And the second baseman, shortstop and third baseman, we all grew up together. I mean, since we were all babies together. And they’ve beaten us every year. We’ve never won. And, finally, we got the first one today.”

And they did it with an aggressive day at the plate, solid pitching and some pretty stellar defense.

They did their damage in the second inning, as they batted around and got seven hits — the first five off of Tulane starter Emerson Gibbs, who had retired the side in order in the first inning. Andre Damiens got things started with a weird hop single off the Turchin turf. Hawkins drove him in with a double off the left-field wall. After an out, Morgan Barger singled to right, and Jonathan Coco singled to center. Pohto singled to drive in Barger.

Tulane pulled Wilson in favor of left-hander Brady Wilson, who gave up a single to lead-off man Chaz Boyer to load the bases. Liberto hit a grounder to third baseman Tim Yandel, who threw Boyer out at second. But the Wave couldn’t turn the double play, and Coco scored. Reese Kanter then singled to score Pohto. Damiens then struck out to end the inning.

After that, the Privateers just held on. They left runners stranded in the fourth and sixth inning, but had a runner picked off and another was caught stealing.

Tulane could not rally. The Green Wave stranded runners in every inning but the second and left the bases loaded in the sixth. They picked up a run in the fifth, when Sean Potkay doubled and Garrett Cannizaro singled.

“Today was one of the toughest days we’ve had to deal with,” Tulane coach Rick Jones said. “One of the more frustrating days of my career.

“UNO outplayed us. They made about four or five diving catches. They made pitches when they had to. They came out really swinging the bats well and put that five spot in the second inning. We didn’t stop the bleeding there; we didn’t turn the double play and that extended the inning for them. This is a very tough loss for us. UNO again, four or five diving catches. They really played well out there today. You have to give them credit. But this one hurts us.”

Tulane-LSU tickets on sale

Single-game tickets are now available for the March 26 Tulane-LSU baseball game at Turchin Stadium.

Tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis with limited seats available. They are $30 apiece.

For information, call the Tulane ticket office at (504) 861-9283 or go to TulaneGreenWave.com.