NEW ORLEANS – Corey Merrill pitched a gem and Christian Colletti shut the door as Tulane baseball clinched its American Athletic Conference series over No. 25 UConn with a 3-1 victory Friday evening at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.
The Green Wave, at 17-18 overall and 6-2 in conference play, is tied for first place in the American Athletic Conference with the Huskies, which are also 6-2 in the league, and 19-13 overall. The Wave has won 14 of its last 20 games.
Tulane manufactured a pair of runs in the sixth inning to take the 3-1 lead. UConn scored in the top of the fourth, and the Wave tied it with a run in the bottom of the inning. Jarret DeHart went 3-for-4, and Sal Gozzo drove in two runs.
Merrill struck out six and allowed just a run on three hits and three walks in 7.0 innings to improve to 5-2. He has won each of his last three starts. Colletti picked up his fourth save of the season with two scoreless frames, allowing only an infield single. The pitchers combined to record 15 ground ball outs. UConn starter Wills Montgomerie (4-2) allowed three runs and struck out 11 batters in 6.0 innings.
DeHart bunted for a single to load the bases in the sixth inning, after Lex Kaplan singled to lead off the sixth inning and Hunter Williams drew a walk. During Gozzo’s at bat in which he fouled off three two-strike pitches, Kaplan scored on a balk to give the Wave a 2-1 lead. Gozzo then put the ball in play, grounding out to first base, but driving home Williams to make it 3-1.
“Jarret DeHart is sitting in the four hole, he’s leading our team in RBI, and he sacrifices himself to move two runners in a good college baseball game with two good arms going at it,” Tulane head coach Travis Jewett. “I think that’s part of our successes. Sal’s at bat was huge. He battled and fought. It was a heck of an at bat, with the ability to just put the ball in play. Colletti has a lot of composure. He looks like he’s enjoying the situation, and he’s just throwing strikes. He’s doing what a lot of guys are doing, and seizing opportunities.”
The game took the shape of a pitcher’s duel through three innings. Tulane hit a pair of two-out singles in the first inning, but nine straight batters were retired until Hunter Hope drew a two-out walk in the fourth, and scored on Sal Gozzo’s looping double down the left field line to tie the game, 1-1.
Merrill retired the first seven UConn batters, before a single in the third. UConn broke through with the first run of the game when Troy Stefanski drew a leadoff walk and scored on a one-out RBI double down the line in right by Zac Susi.
The senior pitcher shook off the double and an error, and induced a double play to end the inning, then shut the UConn offense down, retiring nine of the next 12 batters to pick up his team-leading fifth victory of the season.
The series finale is at 11 a.m. Saturday. Tickets are available by visiting the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office in the James W. Wilson Center. The game can be heard on 88.3 FM WRBH and the Tune In Radio app, and live stats and live video will be available on www.TulaneGreenWave.com.
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Tulane 3, UConn 1 (Apr 14, 2017 at New Orleans, La.)
UConn…………… 000 100 000 – 1 4 0 (19-13, 6-2)
Tulane………….. 000 102 00X – 3 7 1 (17-18, 6-2)
Pitchers: UConn – Montgomerie, Wills; Rajkowski, Dan(7) and Susi, Zac. Tulane – MERRILL, Corey;
COLLETTI, Christian(8) and GOZZO, Paul.
Win-MERRILL, Corey(5-2) Save-COLLETTI, Christian(4) Loss-Montgomerie, Wills(4-2) T-2:18 A-1987
Weather: 76 Mstly Cloudy, Wind [email protected]