Green Wave’s hot streak continues in 15-3 victory

Associated Press file photo by ROGELIO V. SOLIS -- Tulane pitcher Alex Byo lasted 8.1 innings Friday as the Green Wave held on to beat East Carolina 6-5 at the Conference USA tournament. Tulane fell out of the championship picture later Friday after Southern Miss defeated Houston. Show caption
Associated Press file photo by ROGELIO V. SOLIS -- Tulane pitcher Alex Byo lasted 8.1 innings Friday as the Green Wave held on to beat East Carolina 6-5 at the Conference USA tournament. Tulane fell out of the championship picture later Friday after Southern Miss defeated Houston.

NEW ORLEANS — After three months of hardly filling the basepaths, much less the scoreboard, Tulane’s baseball team seems to have found its groove at the plate.

Fresh off an offensive resurgence in winning last weekend’s series against Central Florida, the Green Wave continued the trend by overwhelming UAB 15-3 Thursday night, opening the final regular-season weekend with a jolt.

While Tulane (28-25, 11-11 Conference USA) still languishes at the bottom of nearly every C-USA hitting category, its vast improvement since the start of May has raised its batting average from .235 to .253 in just nine games. Thursday’s victory aided those numbers even further.

Tulane hammered a trio of Blazers pitchers, racking up 14 hits, including six doubles and a home run, and walking seven times. It tied the Green Wave’s highest run total of the season and easily eclipsed its widest margin of victory.

“We have been at rock bottom, and now we’re starting to get hits and starting to get hot, so we are building off of that,” center fielder Richard Carthon said. “Guys are just ready to go and succeed now.”

It didn’t begin flawlessly, though. Tulane starter Alex Byo ran himself into early trouble, surrendering a quick single and then a four-pitch walk, which allowed the Blazers (20-34, 5-17) to score after a pair of groundouts to third base advanced the runners.

Three weeks ago, that early deficit would have been cause for concern. But the Green Wave’s newfound power, and a shaky stretch by Blazers starter Cameron Rose, promptly propelled Tulane in front, where it stayed for the rest of the night.

Garrett Cannizaro led off the second by lacing a double down the left-field line, then came around to score after Sean Potkay’s walk was followed by consecutive hit batters. Cameron Burns took advantage of the crowded basepaths, poking a single through the right side, driving in a pair of runs. Carthon capped the four-run inning by notching his second hit, which brought in Burns.

A trio of singles, including an RBI single by Ryan Prinzing, tightened UAB’s deficit to 4-2, but Byo stranded a pair of runners and sent Tulane back to the plate with momentum. The Green Wave hitters took full advantage.

Brandon Boudreaux notched a pair of RBIs by doubling down the left-field line in the fifth, setting up an offensive explosion in the sixth. Tulane extended its lead to 11-2, sending 10 batters to the plate and collecting four hits, highlighted by Andrew Garner’s three-run double down the left-field line.

The onslaught didn’t end there. Boudreaux’s double and Garner’s single tacked on a pair of runs in the seventh, and Richard Carthon blasted his first career home run in the eighth to cap the festivities.

Despite the victory, Tulane remains seventh in the C-USA standings but remains in contention to reach as high as fifth place, depending on how things unfold over the next two days. Starter David Napoli takes the mound for the Green Wave at 6:30 p.m. Friday with a chance to win the series.

“I thought we pressed a lot early, and these guys have been around a while, and they see the handwriting on the wall and they know what next week is (C-USA tournament),” coach Rick Jones said. “But we would love to get two more wins and get to 30 if we could before we go there, because we have never not won 30-plus, and you want to have a winning season. But our goal, and our players understand, is to win the conference tournament.”