NEW ORLEANS – Freshman catcher Paul Gozzo had one hit on Sunday, and he made sure it was one that counted. His single into left field with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning scored Kody Hoese and pushed Tulane baseball to an 8-7 win over Columbia at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.
The walk-off victory gave the Green Wave (6-13) its third victory in the last four games, and its second series win of the season.
Tulane entered the ninth inning with a 7-4 lead, but the Lions (1-11) scored three runs on three hits and three walks to tie the score. In the bottom half, Hoese and Sal Gozzo drew walks to start the frame, Heinrichs dropped a sacrifice bunt, and after an intentional walk to Lex Kaplan, Paul Gozzo drove a second-pitch breaking ball into left field.
“That’s huge. If that’s any kind of character trait about where we are record-wise, and maybe where we’re going forward, that’s a good sign,” Tulane head coach Travis Jewett said of his team’s ninth-inning response. “Those moments are tough on young players, especially when we’re scuffling a little bit as it is, when those punches are thrown back our way. We were able to stay on our feet, and respond with a couple of good at bats. The guys stayed with it, and we were able to crack it there at the end.”
The game went back-and-forth until the Wave went ahead in the sixth inning. After Tulane scored twice in the first inning, Columbia took a 3-2 lead in the third, but the Green Wave responded with a pair of runs two innings later to move ahead, 4-3. After the Lions tied the score with a run in the top of the sixth, Hunter Williams hit a two-run home run to give Tulane the lead again, 6-4, and the home team added a necessary insurance run in the seventh.
Grant Witherspoon led off the first inning with a walk, and Jarret DeHart and Hoese followed with singles to load the bases. Sal Gozzo then drove a base hit through the right side, scoring Witherspoon and DeHart to give Tulane a 2-0 advantage.
Columbia took a 3-2 lead in the top of the third with three unearned runs on two walks, an error, two RBI fielder’s choices and an RBI single by Chandler Bengtson.
Two innings later, Witherspoon singled and scored on Williams’ base hit to right center. Williams moved around to score when Tyler Heinrichs reached on a fielder error at second base, giving Tulane a 4-3 lead. In the top of the sixth, Shane Adams doubled and moved around to score on a wild pitch, knotting the game, 4-4.
Jake Willsey drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the sixth, and with two outs, Williams gave the Green Wave a 6-4 cushion with his third home run of the season, a shot over the wall in left center. Hoese led off the seventh with a base hit off the pitcher, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Kaplan to make it a 7-4 game.
Witherspoon scored two runs in the contest, and moved to the pitcher’s mound for the final inning. He earned his first career pitching victory. After the tying run scored, he induced a pop out with the bases loaded to end the inning and preserve the tie game.
Starter Ross Massey allowed one earned run and struck out three batters in 6.0 innings. Keagan Gillies was perfect in relief across 2.0 innings, using just 15 pitches to retire the six batters he faced. Columbia’s Harrisen Egley (0-3), the fifth of six pitchers used by the Lions, pitched the eighth inning and into the ninth, and was charged with the loss.
The Green Wave plays two midweek games, beginning with a contest against McNeese State at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium. Tulane then travels to Louisiana-Lafayette Wednesday for the makeup of a March 7 rainout, with first pitch slated for 6 p.m. in Lafayette.
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Tulane 8, Columbia 7 (Mar 19, 2017 at New Orleans, La.)
Columbia………… 003 001 003 – 7 6 3 (1-11)
Tulane………….. 200 022 101 – 8 12 1 (6-13)
Pitchers: Columbia – Wiest, Ty; Gannaway, Brett(3); Harrington, Dan(5); Marks, Ryan(7);
Egly, Harrisen(8); Chriss, Jordan(9) and Robinette, Lane; Karo, Matt. Tulane – MASSEY, Ross;
GILLIES, Keagan(7); WITHERSPOON, Grant(9) and GOZZO, Paul.
Win-WITHERSPOON, Grant(1-0) Loss-Egly, Harrisen(0-3) T-3:10 A-1172
HR TLN – WILLIAMS, Hunter (3).
Weather: 75 Mstly Cloudy, Wind [email protected]
Wiest faced 1 batter in the 3rd.
Egly faced 2 batters in the 9th.