NEW ORLEANS – Sunday was a festive day for Tulane baseball, as the program honored its senior class and celebrated Mother’s Day amid an 11-4 win over Houston in the final American Athletic Conference home game of the season at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.
All seven senior position players recorded a hit, as the departing group totaled 14 hits, eight RBI and scored all 11 runs for the Green Wave (24-28, 11-10 American). Jarret DeHart and Hunter Williams led the way, as DeHart finished 4-for-5 with four RBI and three runs, and Williams was a perfect 4-for-4 with four runs and a walk.
Hunter Hope delivered a two-run home run as part of a four-run third inning that gave Tulane a 6-2 lead, and DeHart followed with a three-run blast in the fourth inning that extended the advantage to 9-2. The Wave picked up two more runs in the eighth on RBI singles by Hope and Jeremy Montalbano, and Grant Brown picked up a pair of RBI with a single in the first and sacrifice fly in the third.
Freshman Chase Solesky (4-2) earned the win in relief of starter Sam Bjorngjeld, allowing one run on four hits in 4.0 innings with four strikeouts. Senior Christian Colletti closed out the game with a scoreless ninth inning.
While the departing players delivered during the game on their day in the sun, they took the spotlight on the sidelines throughout the contest as well. As part of Senior Day festivities, the players were honored on the field with their families, one-by-one, between innings. To celebrate Mother’s Day, the senior players’ mothers threw the ceremonial first pitches. Following the game, all of the players presented their mothers with flowers.
“We spent a lot of time thinking about this day. We knew it was going to get here sooner than we’d want, and it flies by,” Tulane head coach Travis Jewett said. “We knew today was going to have some emotion. We were fighting for a win, this was the seniors’ last conference home game, their parents were here and it was Mother’s Day – there was a lot of emotion. They had the ability to just breathe, relax, play the game and welcome all those things, yet stay focused. For them to have the production that they had was the cherry on top. I’m happy for their success today.”
The first four batters reached for Tulane, as a walk by Kaplan and three straight singles by Williams, DeHart and Brown produced two runs to give the Wave a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first.
Williams and DeHart started the third with back-to-back base hits, and Brown drove a line shot to left field that was caught, but allowed Williams to score from third to make it 3-1. Hope followed with his two-run home run down the left field line. It was his 10th of the season, giving him double digit home runs in consecutive years. Willsey then hit a two-out single to left, stole second base, and scored on freshman Sal Gozzo’s base hit into center field, making the score 6-2.
Kaplan led off the fourth with a double and Williams followed with a walk, setting up DeHart’s team-leading 11th home run of the season. His three-run blast cleared the netting beyond the right field wall, and landed in the Rosen Lot, extending Tualne’s lead to 9-2.
After Houston (33-18, 13-8 American) cut it to 9-4 with single runs in the fifth and seventh, the Green Wave added a pair of runs in the eighth inning to extend their lead to 11-4. Hope hit a sacrifice fly to score Williams, and Montalbano drove home DeHart with a line drive base hit into center field. It was the first RBI for Montalbano since his home run on March 5, prior to being injured in that game.
The on- and off-field celebrations Sunday were a fitting way to honor the 2017 senior class that brought the Green Wave back to the NCAA Tournament twice and won the 2016 American Athletic Conference Championship. The 2015 regional appearance was Tulane’s first since 2008, and the conference title was the program’s first since 2005.
“We played like we were playing in the middle of the year,” Williams said. “We were swinging the bats well and swinging at good pitches. You couldn’t script it up any better (for Senior Day). It was perfect. We have four games next week, and this may be something that can start the ball rolling, and get us playing our best baseball at the right time.”
Houston scored a run in first inning when Connor Wong singled, and moved around to score on a double play. In the second, Nick Slaughter hit a solo home run to tie the score, 2-2. Joe Davis singled home Wong in the fifth, and Corey Julks hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh to make it 9-4. Starter Fred Villarreal (1-2) pitched 2.0 innings in the loss.
Tulane plays host to UNO at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium in its final home game of the season. Tickets are available at the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office in the James W. Wilson Center.
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Tulane 11, Houston 4 (May 14, 2017 at New Orleans, La.)
Houston…………. 110 010 100 – 4 10 0 (33-18, 13-8)
Tulane………….. 204 300 02X – 11 16 0 (24-28, 11-10)
Pitchers: Houston – VILLARREAL, Fred; HURDSMAN, Brayson(3); PULIDO, Joey(3); BOND, Nolan(6);
KING, John(8) and WONG, Connor. Tulane – BJORNGJELD, Sam; SOLESKY, Chase(5);
COLLETTI, Christian(9) and ARTIGUES, Jonathon; GOZZO, Paul.
Win-SOLESKY, Chase(4-2) Loss-VILLARREAL, Fred(1-2) T-3:10 A-1990
HR HOU – SLAUGHTER, Nick (2).
HR TLN – DeHART, Jarret (11); HOPE, Hunter (10).
Weather: 81 Sunny, Wind N @ 5 mph
VILLARREAL faced 2 batters in the 3rd.
BJORNGJELD faced 2 batters in the 5th.