Tulane Outhits No. 16 Southern Miss to Win, 10-8
Senior third baseman Hunter Hope's grand slam powered a seven-run fifth inning, and Tulane held on to defeat No. 16 Southern Miss, 10-8, Wednesday evening at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.
The Green Wave improved to 19-19, and picked up their fifth win over a ranked opponent this season. Hope's homer was his team-leading eighth of the season, and his second career grand slam. It was also the first slam for the Wave this year. Freshman shortstop Sal Gozzo drove in three runs, and senior designated hitter Jarret DeHart tallied three hits, drove in a run and scored twice.
Sophomore Brandon Issa improved his record to 3-0 with an effective inning in relief of junior Sam Bjorngjeld, who went 4.2 frames in his third career start. Senior Christian Colletti slammed the door on a USM threat in the eighth inning and retired the side in the ninth to earn his fifth save. USM starter J.C. Keys (2-3) took the loss.
Tulane took a 3-0 lead with two runs in the first inning and another run in the third, but the Golden Eagles (29-10) tied the score with two runs in the fourth and one in the fifth. The wave responded with a huge seven-run bottom of the fifth, and held on as Southern Miss cut it to 10-8 with two runs in the sixth and three in the eighth.
"I liked our response," Tulane head coach Travis Jewett said of his team bouncing back from a 1-0 defeat to Louisiana-Lafayette on Tuesday. "The players came out ready to go. I was proud of them. Southern Miss is a really good team. They're well-coached. That was a big swing in a big moment for Hunter. I'm just happy for him. It gave us the cushion, and gave us a chance to hang on."
Tulane loaded the bases in the first inning on walks by sophomore right fielder Grant Witherspoon and senior left fielder Lex Kaplan, and a base hit by senior first baseman Hunter Williams. It was the fourth straight inning the Wave had loaded the bases, going back to Tuesday night, and on Wednesday, Sal Gozzo came through with a line drive single into center field that scored two runs.
In the third inning, DeHart doubled off first base and into the right field corner, and scored on a base hit to center by senior center fielder Grant Brown, extending the lead to 3-0.
Southern Miss cut it to 3-2 on a two-run home run by Matt Wallner in the fourth inning, and tied the game with an RBI single in the fifth by Daniel Keating.
Kaplan bookended Tulane's fifth inning with a pair of doubles. His first was followed by a single from Williams and an RBI base hit by DeHart to give the Green Wave a 4-3 lead. Brown and Gozzo drew walks to load the bases and plate another run, and Hope followed with his grand slam to left center field. It was the second collegiate grand slam for Hope, who hit a walkoff slam against Wichita State as a freshman in 2014.
The first six runs of the inning were scored with no outs, and Tulane added another run with two outs, when Kaplan's second double of the frame plated Witherspoon, who beat out a single to first base, making the score 10-3.
Southern Miss cut it to 10-5 in the sixth inning on a two-run single by Tracy Hadley. A three-run eighth inning made the score 10-8 after consecutive doubles by Dylan Burdeaux and Keating.
Colletti entered the game with one out in the eighth, a runner at second, and USM's three and four-hole hitters due up. He coaxed a pair of groundouts to end the frame, and retired the side in the ninth, allowing only a two-out single, to pick up the save.
The Green Wave travels to Houston for a three-game American Athletic Conference series this weekend. Game times are 6:30 p.m. Friday, 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.