GREENVILLE, N.C.- The Tulane baseball team scored nine runs over the course of four innings to battle back from a five-run deficit, as the team’s pitching and defense in crunch time staved off a late comeback as the Green Wave defeated the No. 11 ECU Pirates Sunday 9-8 at Clark-LeClair Stadium in Greenville.
Leading by just a single run heading into the final two innings, the Green Wave (27-16, 9-5 The American) combined to strand five ECU (33-11, 13-2) runners on base over the course of the final six outs of the game. Senior catcher Acy Owen kept a host of pitches from getting past him over those final two innings, as the infield turned its only double play of the game in the ninth to clinch the victory.
Sophomore pitcher Brendan Cellucci (2-2) went a career-long 5.1 innings in earning the win, allowing three runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and three walks. Trent Johnson (1) picked up his first career save as he entered the game with the game-tying and go-ahead runs on base in the ninth, weathering an overturned call by video review that loaded the bases by getting the final ECU batter of the game to ground out to Jonathon Artigues for the double play.
Offensively, Tulane was paced by freshman Hudson Haskin who became the fifth player this season to earn five hits in a game, going 5-for-5 with a home run, two doubles and three RBI. Owen earned a career-high three hits and drove in three, while Kody Hoese and Artigues had two hits each.
ECU starter Tyler Smith allowed four runs on six hits with four strikeouts and a walk on Sunday, as his first reliever out of the bullpen in Evan Voliva (4-3) suffered the loss as he gave up the next three on three hits with two strikeouts in just 0.2 innings of work.
Alec Burleson drove in five, including the three-run home run that brought the Pirates to within one of the Green Wave, on a pair of hits and runs scored, pitching two of the final three innings allowing two hits with a strikeout.
Down 5-0 heading into the top of the fifth, Hoese singled to center to reach first base. With a 2-0 count, Haskin earned his second hit of the day with a double back down the left field line to put two Tulane runners in scoring position. A grounder by Grant Mathews to second allowed Hoese to score to make it 5-1 Pirates.
With an out in the fifth, Artigues singled up the middle but would be put out on the next play on a fielder’s choice. With an even count, Owen ripped a shot down the line in right and plated Logan Stevens to cut the Pirate lead to three at 5-2.
Hoese battled to draw a walk in his at-bat to open the Tulane sixth, as Haskin connected for his third hit and second double to plate Hoese and make it a 5-3 game as Smith exited the game after that.
Volvia started well by getting a strikeout, but after that things turned for the Green Wave as Colin Burns singled to right to put runners at the corners. A wild pitch put two back into scoring position, as after a strikeout Artigues was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Tulane.
On the fifth pitch he saw, Stevens lifted one to left to bring in Burns and Haskin to tie the game with ECU at 5-5. Down to his final strike, Owen came through with a single to right to bring in Stevens and Artigues to give Tulane its first lead of the weekend up 7-5.
In the seventh, Hoese connected for his second hit of the day with a single up the middle, as Haskin did the rest as he cleared the wall for his fourth base knock of the day to give the Green Wave a 9-5 lead over the Pirates.
Heading to the bottom half of that same inning, a single and a walk around a groundout put two Pirate runners on base, as Burleson hit a shot to right field to get three back for ECU to make the score 9-8 in favor of Tulane.
Tulane will be back in action on Tuesday night, closing out the Pelican Cup against the New Orleans Privateers at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.
Tulane sports information contributed to this story.