April 9, 2001
It's a testament to the talent on the Tulane Green Wave (25-7, 5-4 C-USA) baseball team this year that they can drop two out of three games to the below .500 St. Louis Billikens (13-15, 4-5 C-USA) and still hold claim to a top-20 slot in Baseball Americas rankings.
April Fools weekend brought a surprise pair of losses for the Wave, but rounded out in the end as Tulane rallied to take the final game of the series in St. Louis and narrowly outgunned Southeastern Louisiana in the mid-week clash. The weekend Conference-USA series opened on Friday, March 30, with the Billikens upsetting the Wave, who were coming off a nail-biter against Lousiana-Lafayette and a three-game sweep of the Cincinnati Bearcats.
St. Louis took the opener 8-5. The Billikens came out with timely hitting that led to a 4-0 lead by the third inning, built on four RBI by Billikens second baseman Nick Steiner. The Wave were held scoreless through seven, but managed finally to break onto the scoreboard when freshman Michael Aubrey came home on a John Kaplan sacrifice.
After a promising eighth made the score 3-6 on two more Tulane runs, the Billikens came back and answered in turn, advancing their lead to 3-8. The Green Waves own "Mr. Reliable," Jake Gautreau, attempted another bout of late-inning heroics as he blasted a two run shot in the ninth to move the Wave within 3, but the game would end with the Wave falling short by that many. Sophomore Matt Foster took his second loss of the season (6-2) on seven innings of work.
The Wave would fare no better the next night either, as St. Louis rode their confidence from the previous night to upend the Wave by a score of 10-6 and clinch their first-ever series victory against Tulane. The Green Wave opened the scoring in the contest with a two-run triple by Andy Cannizaro in the third inning.
After another Nick Steiner three-run homer for St. Louis in the third and a quick Billikens run in the fourth, the Wave scored two runs in the fifth on a pinch-hit home run by Nick Bourgeois and an RBI single by Andy Cannizaro. The game looked to be well in hand as Michael Aubrey sent a solo shot yard in the sixth inning to give the Wave a 6-4 lead. Seven was a lucky number for the Billikens, however, as they sent home six runs to take a 10-4 lead.
St. Louis right fielder Jim Bredenkoetter did the damage, hitting a two-run single to put the Billikens up by one, and first baseman Ben Caffey made it hurt, sending a three-run blast over the fence to cap the victory. Reliever Steven Blades picked up the loss in relief of starter Beau Richardson, who went four and a third innings. With St. Louis thinking sweep, the Wave headed out Sunday, April 1, with the intent of stopping the two-game skid.
Things instantly went from bad to worse as the Waves starting pitcher, freshman Joey Charron, was rocked for five earned runs on four hits with no outs. Charron left the game without retiring a batter, leaving Tulane with a 5-0 deficit. The Billikens added one more run in the first to push the Wave deeper into the hole. A triple by Michael Aubrey and a sacrifice fly by James Burgess moved the Wave to within striking distance at 6-3.
St. Louis extended their lead by two in the fourth inning as Billikens catcher Andrew Slania knocked his second home run of the game and Nick Steiner added a sacrifice fly to make the score 8-3. Tulane battled back in the fifth inning to score five runs with two out on back-to-back home runs by James Jurries and Michael Aubrey.
With the score tied 8-8, the Wave went back to work in the sixth inning, taking a 11-8 lead on an RBI triple by John Kaplan and a two-run homer by Andy Cannizaro. Barth Melius did the rest, closing out a gutsy nine-inning relief performance for the win (4-1). The victory avoided the series sweep and moved the Wave above .500 for Conference-USA play.
The Wednesday night midweek session on April 4 saw Tulane travel to Hammond, La., and pull out a late-inning victory. The Wave drew first blood following a double by Andy Cannizaro and a sacrifice fly by Jake Gautreau. Cannizaro would score again in the second following a Steve Shirley single. Michael Aubrey hit a solo home run in the third inning to give the Wave a 3-0 lead and extend his hitting streak to 11 games.
A Kaplan sacrifice in the third and a James Jurries single in the seventh put the Wave up by a score of 5-0. The eighth inning was trouble, as Southeastern Louisiana batted the order and scored six runs, the last of which was given up on a wild pitch by Beau Richardson. Down to the final out in the top of the ninth, with two on, Aaron Feldman delivered with a triple that gave the Wave a 7-6 lead. Reliever Dirck Hoagland held out for the final inning, picking up his first win of the year.
The Green Wave return home to the Crescent City this week for what promises to be an incredible matchup with rival LSU at Zephyr Field on April 11.
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