Wave turns LSU into Tiger Bait

March 9, 2002

Leena Pande, <i>Hullabaloo</i> staff writer

Tulane (9-5) faced LSU at Alex Box Stadium Tuesday night in what Tiger fans considered redemption from a Super Regional Wave victory last season. The Tigers fell short in the end, as they could not hold a 5-0 lead. The Wave triumphed, 6-5, giving Tulane bragging rights for Louisiana once again. The Green Wave received the win proudly after dropping two out of three last weekend to the perennial college baseball powerhouse UCLA Bruins (10-10).

The Wave got off to a rocky start against LSU in the early innings of the game, as sophomore starting pitcher Michael Aubrey, who usually plays as the Wave's first baseman, dug himself into a deep hole that yielded five runs. The Green Wave offense came to his rescue, torching LSU pitching for four runs in the fifth inning and adding two more in the sixth, all with the help of 13 total hits on the evening.

Sophomore right fielder Gerald Clark got the fifth inning started on the right note by lacing a single and advancing on freshman shortstop Tommy Manzella's base hit. Junior center fielder Jon Kaplan's patient at-bat resulted in a walk that loaded the bases. After two quick outs, Aubrey redeemed himself by roping a two-run double into right field, scoring Clark and Manzella. Sophomore left fielder Bryan Stelmack then delivered a big hit, a single into left field that drove in two more runs.

With the Wave down by one heading into the top of the sixth inning, Clark once again emerged as the offensive hero, scoring from second on a errant throw by LSU reliever Lukas Guidroz to tie the game up at five. Later in the same inning, another LSU error committed on senior first baseman Aaron Feldman's hit to the shortstop allowed Manzella to come home with the go-ahead run.

Aubrey was lifted after pitching five and one-third innings, allowing five runs on nine hits and five walks. Sophomore relief ace Joey Charron entered the game and gave the team three and two-thirds innings of lights-out baseball. Tiger hitters struck out three times and only managed two singles against Charron, who preserved Aubrey's second win of the season with his second save on the year.

In the first game of the UCLA series, rescheduled as the first half of a doubleheader last Saturday due to inclement weather, the Wave stranded a total of 16 baserunners and lost, 9-7. Senior southpaw Beau Richardson gave up seven runs, four earned, in five innings of pitching and suffered his first loss of the season. Stelmack ripped three hits and drove in a run against UCLA pitching, but it was not enough as the Wave failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities.

The second half of Saturday's doubleheader featured a 75-minute rain and lightning delay, but as the game got underway, junior lefty Nick Bourgeois showed off some lightning of his own, striking out a career-high 10 batters and surrendering just three hits in seven innings of work. He improved his record to 2-0 on the season and made UCLA hitters look feeble throughout the game, setting down 17 Bruins in a row during one stretch.

Kaplan and Aubrey both touched up Bruin pitching for RBI singles in the third inning, while sophomore catcher Scott Madden launched a solo home run in the fourth. Stelmack came around to score on Brooks Shankle's (freshman, designated hitter) single in the sixth to complete the four-run attack. Charron pitched two scoreless innings to preserve the 4-1 victory for the Wave and get the save. With the game-time temperature hovering around 30 degrees, the Wave seemed unable to handle the frigid conditions for Sunday's rubber game, committing a season-high five errors in a 10-4 loss.

The Bruins hit freshman starter Ray Liotta hard, scoring three runs in the first frame alone. Liotta (1-2) did not make it out of the fourth inning, having surrendered 10 runs (four earned), three walks and two strikeouts. UCLA broke the game wide open in the fourth, capitalizing on three Wave miscues in the inning. UCLA pitching proved too strong for Tulane hitters, holding them to four runs for the game. Bruin pitching yielded only one hit to Tulane hitters during the last five innings of the game.

The Green Wave (8-5) returns to action this weekend at Turchin Stadium, opening up a three-game set against Rutgers Friday at 6:30 p.m. The first pitch is at 2 p.m. Saturday, and the series finale starts at 1 p.m. Sunday.

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