Tulane baseball team prepares for Notre Dame, rough weather

NEW ORLEANS — Tulane’s 3-1 start could become as thunderous as the predicted weather this weekend when they host Notre Dame, a three-game series that begins with sophomore Tony Rizzotti taking the mound at 6:30 p.m. Friday in his first-ever start at Turchin Stadium.

Rizzotti earned the Green Wave’s starting nod in its opening win against Sam Houston and turned in a complete-game shutout, allowing two hits and tossing 108 pitches.

“It was as dominating of an opener as I’ve ever seen in my entire career,” 20th-year coach Rick Jones said.

Rizzotti’s fastball registered 96 mph once and regularly reached the 90s.

A native of Arlington, Texas, Rizzotti began his NCAA career at TCU and has since rehabbed from two shoulder surgeries. His promising debut bodes well from a Tulane team playing without injured outfielder Blake Crohan, one of the lineup’s best hitters, as well as pitchers Andrew Rise and Alex Matthews, whose season “still could turn out to be something very special,” Jones said of the right-handed sophomore from Catholic High, who last year was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman team.

Following Rizzotti, Alex Byo takes to the mound at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Junior Kyle McKenzie starts the series finale at noon Sunday.

Tulane accommodated Notre Dame’s travel schedule by moving up Sunday’s first pitch.

Tulane is also prepared for a weekend weather forecast that could bring serve thunderstorms to the New Orleans area for all three days of the series.

Friday’s start could be moved up because of weather, and Green Wave officials have discussed the possibility of a doubleheader of seven-inning games Saturday, as the forecast seems bleakest for Sunday.

Tulane won its opening weekend Texas State Tournament before returning home to slip past Southeastern 5-3.

This weekend’s opponent, the Fighting Irish, who are led by coach Mik Aoki, who has compiled a 56-57-1 record in three years. Tulane and Notre Dame schools last played in the 2000 Starkville Regional, where Notre Dame defeated the Green Wave 10-6.

The Green Wave last defeated Notre Dame on March 7, 1994, winning 6-2.

Last Saturday, Notre Dame earned its first-ever opening-day double-header sweep with wins over Ohio State and Florida Gulf Coast.

As a team, Tulane is batting .219 and is led at the plate by junior Briggs Barrios, who has collected four hits through the first four games of the season. His .286 batting average leads the team; his .357 slugging percentage is tied for the top spot with freshman Tim Yandel and senior Brandon Boudreaux.

Notre Dame is batting .324 as a team, led by Eric Jagielo’s .545 average. He also has two home runs and eight RBIs.