Tulane wins AAC tourney opener over Houston
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Senior Trent Johnson delivered a dazzling performance in the American Athletic Conference Championship to propel Tulane to a 4-1 victory over the University of Houston on Tuesday at BayCare Ballpark.
Johnson finished the game by working a season-best 7.1 innings, scattered four hits and struck out six, as he outdueled First Team All-AAC honoree Robert Gasser from Houston to pick up his third win on the year.
With the win, Tulane improved to 29-22 on the year and will advance in the winner’s bracket of the AAC Championship.
“I’m really happy for the kids and the coaches,” head coach Travis Jewett said. “Everybody refocused and we showed some toughness. When you lose four games like we did (this past weekend) with a chance to win the conference it gets magnified. The kids got down here and got re-centered.”
In addition to Johnson’s masterful performance, the Green Wave also received timely hitting and touched up Gasser for four runs and eight hits. Freshman Jacob LaPrairie led the way offensively for the Green Wave, as he drove in a pair of runs.
Redshirt sophomore Walker Burchfield had the big hit of the game, as he broke a 1-1 tie in the seventh inning with a two-out solo home run over the left field wall to give the Green Wave the lead for good. Burchfield’s solo shot was his first collegiate home run of his career.
“It felt awesome, and I want to thank Coach Jewett for putting me in that situation,” Burchfield said. “I hadn’t hit one all year and coach (Jay) Uhlman’s son actually told me I was going to hit a home run today and I just said, ‘well I hope it happens’. I got a fastball down the middle, and it just worked out in my favor.”
Tulane added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth thanks to an RBI singles by sophomore Collin Burns and LaPrairie. Burns’ RBI double in the eighth was his second hit of the game.
The Green Wave’s two insurance runs in the eighth were more than enough for senior closer Keagan Gillies, as he came on to slam the door shut by picking up his fifth save of the season.
Since Feb. 28, Gillies has not allowed a single earned run.
Gasser suffered the loss and dropped to 6-6 on the year despite working 7.1 innings and striking out 10 Tulane batters.
“That pitcher we faced today in (Robert) Gasser, he’s a big-leaguer,” Jewett said. “We knew it was going to be tough fight, but the kids found a way to get it done.”
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