OMAHA, Neb.–In a game that had a little bit of everything – great pitching, highlight-reel catches and clutch hitting – it was only fitting that Green Wave fifth-year senior Scott Madden found himself in the middle of the biggest play of the day.
The lone holdover from Tulane’s 2001 College World Series team, Madden did not start the ballgame, but was called on to pinch hit with two on, two out, and the Green Wave trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh.
After falling behind in the count 1-2 to Oregon State starter Jonah Nickerson, Madden connected with the next offering from the sophomore right-hander and placed it just out of the reach of a diving Cole Gillespie in right for a two-RBI double as the top-ranked Tulane University baseball team defeated the Beavers 3-1 in the opening round of the College World Series Saturday afternoon at Rosenblatt Stadium.
Madden’s double was all the run support Tulane starter Micah Owings would need, and junior centerfielder Nathan Southard extended his hitting streak to a team-best 21 games with a leadoff homer in the eighth to account for the final score. Owings (12-4) went 7.0 frames for the Green Wave, striking out four and walking four while scattering four hits, and sophomore reliever Daniel Latham retired six of the seven men he faced over the final two innings to earn his 13th save of the season.
“It was a heck of a ballgame,” Tulane head coach Rick Jones said. “It was one we had to pitch and play well defensively to stay in it, and we did both.”
With the win, Tulane improved to 56-10 on the year and tied the school record for wins in a season (2001), while Oregon State fell to 46-11. The Green Wave advanced in the winner’s bracket where it will play the winner of tonight’s Texas/Baylor contest on Monday, June 20, at 6 p.m. The Beavers, meanwhile, will play an elimination game on Monday at 1 p.m. against the loser of tonight’s ballgame.
Oregon State jumped out to an early lead as All-American centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury reached on an infield single to lead off the game, went to third on a one-out double by shortstop Darwin Barney, and scored on an RBI-groundout to second off the bat of first baseman Andy Jenkins.
Owings made sure the lead stayed that way with great pitching the rest of the way, and got a little help from his friends defensively. For the 29th time in 2005, the Green Wave played flawless defense, including a diving catch by junior right fielder Brian Bogusevic in the top of the sixth for the third out to get Tulane out a bases-loaded jam.
With left fielder Tyler Graham at third, catcher Mitch Canham at second and third baseman Shea McFeeley at first, OSU right fielder Cole Gillespie hit a shot to shallow right central that would have plated at least two runs, but Bogusevic got a great jump on the ball and laid out to make the catch and thwart the scoring opportunity.
“When I saw it come off the bat, I though it could be caught,” Bogusevic said. “I was just out there trying to make plays. When Micah is pitching that well, anything we can do behind him defensively, we owe it to him.”
The Green Wave had its chances to scratch across a run throughout the ballgame, but stranded Owings – who helped his own cause by going 2-for-3 with a walk as the designated hitter - at third in both the second and fourth innings. In the seventh, however, Tulane did not let another opportunity slip through its fingers as sophomore first baseman Mark Hamilton reached on a fielder’s choice and Bogusevic singled to set up Madden’s game-deciding double.
Southard’s bomb in the eighth provided the Green Wave with a little breathing room, and Latham pitched his way around a double by Jenkins in the eighth and a single by reserve designated hitter Mike Lissman in the ninth to preserve the win.
Nickerson (9-2), who struck out four and walked one in a solid 7.0-inning performance, was tagged with the loss for the Beavers after giving up two runs on seven hits, and Kunz was greeted rudely by Southard in the eighth, but retired the final three men he faced.
NOTES: Tulane tied the school record with 56 wins, which was set during the Green Wave’s 2001 College World Series season when they finished the year 56-13.
The win was the 799th of head coach Rick Jones’ career (799-328-2 in 20 years as a head coach).
Jones career r4ecord at Tulane now stands at 523-235-1.
Daniel Latham picked up his 13th save of the year, which ranks second in school history and just three behind Brandon Belanger’s mark of 16 set in 1999.
Latham now has 19 saves in his two-year collegiate career and stands in fourth place in that category in Tulane history.
Nathan Southard’s 20-game hitting streak was nearly halted in the Saturday’s win over Oregon State as he was 0-for-4 before belting a leadoff homer in the bottom of the eighth…Southard’s 21-game streak is the longest of the season and the second-longest in school history (Tookie Spann holds the record of 27 set in 1988).