CLEARWATER, Fla. – Sophomore second baseman Jonathon Artigues went 4-for-5 with three RBI to lead eighth-seeded Tulane to an 11-6 win over top-seeded Houston to open the 2018 American Athletic Conference Baseball Championship Tuesday afternoon at Spectrum Field.
— Tulane Baseball (@GreenWaveBSB) May 23, 2018
The Green Wave (25-31) scored nine runs in the first four innings, including a five-run second frame, then added two runs in the ninth to run past the Cougars (33-22). Houston scored single runs in the first and second innings before scoring four in the ninth. The game, which on Monday was moved up to 11 a.m. CT, was delayed until 1:48 p.m. CT after storms moved into the area around the scheduled start time.
Five Tulane players recorded at least two hits, as the Wave totaled 15 base knocks in the game. Junior right fielder Ty Johnson singled three times and scored two runs, and junior center fielder Grant Witherspoon, junior first baseman Trevor Jensen, sophomore designated hitter Grant Mathews and junior catcher Acy Owen all collected two hits. Witherspoon hit a two-run triple, followed by a two-run home run from Jensen as part of the five-run second inning.
Sophomore Keagan Gillies (6-6) allowed two runs and scattered eight hits over 6.0 innings to earn the win while Houston starter Aaron Fletcher (6-3) took the loss. Freshman Connor Pellerin tossed the final three frames and earned his third save of the season.
“Our kids were on point from the start,” Tulane head coach Travis Jewett said. “Offensively, it was just excellent pretty much all the way around. You couple that with quality starting pitching, and we knew Keagan was going to have to do that in order for us to have a chance, because Fletcher is good. I told the kids after the game that was maybe as well as we’ve played all-around in a while, with good pitching, good hitting and timely hitting. We were able to stretch it out there and hold on to it at the end.”
Tulane jumped out fast, as Artigues lined the first pitch of the game into right center for a single. The Wave then loaded the bases and scored a run on Hoese’s sacrifice fly. Houston tied the game with a leadoff home run by left fielder Tyler Bielamowicz in the bottom of the inning.
The Green Wave opened up a big lead with five runs in the second. Artigues hit an RBI single, Witherspoon followed with a two-run triple to deep left center and Jensen drove his ninth homer of the season – a two-run shot into the bullpens in left field to extend the lead to 6-1.
After Houston scored in the bottom of the second, Tulane responded with two more runs in the top of the third. Johnson singled and sophomore shortstop Sal Gozzo reached on an error, then Artigues drove a two-out two-run base hit to right center to extend the lead to 8-2. Mathews doubled home Jensen in the fourth to make it 9-2.
The Wave scored a pair of two-out runs in the ninth on Owen’s double to right center that scored junior Tyler Heinrichs, who pinch ran for Johnson, and Gozzo, who walked. The two runs made the score 11-2, increasing the gap that Houston closed with its four-run ninth. An RBI single by center fielder Grayson Padgett and a three-run homer by designated hitter Joe Davis made the final, 11-6.