The Green Wave rallied from four runs down before junior Trevor Minder hit a walk-off three-run home run to defeat Middle Tennessee 8-5 and claim the series on Saturday at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.
After spotting the visitors a four-run advantage, Tulane (8-2) roared back to tie the game and eventually take the lead, but not before the Blue Raiders (3-5) tied the game in the top of the ninth, forcing the team to bat again in the bottom half of the inning. The Green Wave got its chance to end it in regulation and did so thanks to Minder who hit his second home run in the last three four games.
“In those situations, you’ve just got to have fun. It happened this time for me,” said Minder. “I’ve failed a lot of times in that situation, so it just feels good to come through and get a quality win.”
Hudson Haskin tallied a season-high four hits including a solo home run. Minder, Ethan Groff and debutant Luis Aviles managed two each in the victory for the Green Wave.
“We talked about this being a three-round fight with these guys,” coach Travis Jewett said. “Friday was the first-round, this was round two. We took a punch, we kind of shot ourselves in the foot defensively. We got maybe a ’10-count’ but we didn’t go down. The kids fought back.”
Tulane starter Jack Aldrich battled through six innings while allowing four runs, two earned, on seven hits. The redshirt sophomore struck out six and walked just one batter. Aldrich was relieved by Luke Jannetta, throwing a scoreless seventh inning before Robert Price and Connor Pellerin combined for a shutout eighth inning.
Keagan Gillies (1-1) threw .2 innings to keep the score at 5-5 in the ninth inning after the Blue Raiders tied the game earlier in the frame, eventually securing the win.
Middle Tennessee was first to jump on the board in the top of the second inning. One out singles from Nathan Sanders and Fausto Lopez put runners on the corners before Aldrich struck out the next batter. A ground ball to shortstop seemed to end the inning, but upon umpire review the call at second base was overturned to make the score 1-0 to the visitors.
MTSU loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the fourth inning after a base hit and two Tulane errors. Jake Hagenow lifted a sacrifice fly to right field before a wild pitch and a throwing error made the score 3-0 with a runner on third base. Peter Brown singled through the left side of the infield to plate the third unearned run of the inning to make it 4-0.
The Green Wave continued their habit of producing bounce-back innings in the bottom of the fourth. Leading off the inning, Haskin blasted his first home run of the season to left field. Singles from Minder and Frankie Niemann put two on as Aviles came to the plate with one out. He ripped an opposite field double to right field for his first Tulane hit, scoring both Minder and Niemann to narrow the deficit to 4-3. Jonathon Artigues followed Aviles with a nearly identical double over the right fielder’s head, plating Aviles to tie the game at four.
“After the error,” said Aviles, “I knew that I had to pick the team up”.
Tulane finally found themselves in front in the bottom of the sixth inning. Aviles continued his fine debut, drawing a walk on a full count with one out. Artigues chopped a grounder back to the pitcher who fired to second base for a force out, but the throw pulled the shortstop off the bag for a crucial error. After a strikeout, Groff came to the plate with two outs. Groff ripped a single to left field, scoring Aviles to give the Wave a 5-4 lead.
In the top of the ninth inning, MTSU scratched out a run to tie the game at five. DJ Wright doubled before moving to third base on a wild pitch. With one out, Nathan Sanders scooted a single beyond the drawn in infield to tie the game at five.
Down to the final out in the ninth inning, Tulane made sure this game wouldn’t go to extra innings. A two-out single from Haskin and a Mathews hit by pitch set the table for Minder. Minder tattooed the first pitch of the at-bat, launching a high slider for a long home run to send the fans home happy.
DJ Wright and Nathan Sanders each racked up four hits for MTSU. Peyton Wigginton hurled six innings and struck out nine batters. Walker Armstrong (0-1) relieved Wigginton, throwing 2.2 shutout innings before surrendering the walk-off homer to Minder.
The Green Wave managed 12 hits and left only five runners on base while stranding 11 MTSU runners. Tulane pitchers struck out nine and walked just one. Jannetta posted another scoreless inning, bringing his season total to 11 innings without allowing a run.
Tulane closes the series with Middle Tennessee on Sunday at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium, with first pitch set for 1 p.m.
Tulane sports information contributed to this story.