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Tulane Baseball Preview-- Winning the Weekend Series
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waltgreenberg Offline
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Tulane Baseball Preview-- Winning the Weekend Series
The Rice Baseball Owls need to quickly put the mid-week loss to Sam Houston State behind them, and gear up for the task at hand-- namely, continuing our streak of weekend series victories and staying near the top of the conference standings. With Tulane coming to town for games on Thursday and Friday evenings (both 6:30pm start times), and Saturday afternoon (2:00pm start), it's important that we start to find some consistency in our offense and relief pitching. Our right-hand laden pitching staff and left-hand laden lineup matches up quite favorably to Tulane's largely right-handed lineup and right-handed pitching staff, but we need to bring the focus, energy and solid all-around play if we are to take care of business.

Tulane entered the 2013 season with very high hopes of finally returning to the post-season as a Top 35 caliber club after a frustrating six-year absence. Remember, this is a program that was a perennial Top 25 team up until 2006, had taken multiple trips to Omaha, and was the consensus #1 team in the country for most of the 2005 season (before we joined the C-USA conference). And there was ample reason for such high expectations-- they were returning 5 Seniors-- including virtually their entire infield-- who were everyday position players last year (but were largely shunned by the draft)...two highly regarded starting pitchers were returning from injury (McKenzie, LeBlanc) and joining 3-year starter Alex Byo and hard-throwing TCU-transfer Tony Rizzoti in the rotation...and they were returning several experienced bullpen arms. Unfortunately, the first half of the season did not go as planned for the Green Wave, as they come to Reckling Park with an overall 14-13 record (2-4 on the road, 2-1 in CUSA, 8-7 vs. Top 100, #91 RPI, #93 ISR, #48 SoS). Their problem has been one of consistency, with their longest winning streak of the season being just 3 games. The pitching has lived up to expectation, with a couple Freshmen stepping up big time in the bullpen to compliment Rizzoti and Byo in the weekend rotation, but the offense has been a huge disappointment, with all but one of the upperclassmen (Middleton) having down years at the plate so far this season. In fairness, Tulane has played a much more difficult schedule than we have (albeit largely home baked), and they do have quality wins against Alabama x 2, Sam Houston State, UT-SA x 2, Southeastern Lousiana x 2 and Memphis x 2...but their resume also includes bad loses to Nichols State, Northwestern State, High Point and New Orleans. The Green Wave have lost just one weekend series over the first six weeks of the season (swept by Notre Dame the second weekend), though only one (at Alabama) has been on the road. Here's their schedule/results to date...

http://warrennolan.com/baseball/2013/schedule/Tulane

Offensively, Tulane is hitting just .247/.337/.325, with 6 HRs, 18-28 SBs, and averaging 2 extrabase hits and 3.6 runs per game. SS Brennan Middleton (.339/.407/.385, 5 doubles, 6 RBIs) is the only player on the roster hitting above .285. As with any Rick Jones-coached Tulane team, this squad exhibits outstanding patience and racks up a lot of walks and HBP (averaging just under 5 free passes per game). However, by consistently working the count, they also strikeout at a very high frequency (6.5 Ks per game). It is imperative that our pitchers focus on pounding the strikezone against these guys, and try to get ahead in the count on a consistent basis, or we risk a parade of free passes and our starters running up high pitch counts. Consequently, this may be a rare opponent against whom it may make sense to lead with fastballs. Of note, they have hit into just 16 double plays over their first 27 games, which has to be one of the lowest rates in the country. Strange given they are not a big base stealing team (only 18 - 28 SBs) and have limitted sac bunts to just one per game on average. Either they have a lot of bunt singles or, more likely, they are a fly ball hitting club.

As mentioned above, Tulane has an upperclass-laden lineup (4 Seniors, a redshirt Junior, 1 Junior and 2 Freshmen), but only two everyday players bat left-handed (Boudreaux, Carthon), and both of them are hitting in the .260s. This makes Tulane a very favorable matchup for our primarily right-handed pitchers. Here's their regular lineup with year-to-date stats included...

1. CF Brandon Boudreaux (Sr, Left-handed batter): .247/.346/.290, 8 RBIs, 4-6 SBs
2. SS Brennan Middleton (Sr, Right-handed): .339/.407/.385, 5 doubles, 6 RBIs, 6 HBP, 4-6 SBs
3. C/OF Blake Crohan (Sr, R): .259/.379/.315, 4 RBIs
4. 1B Sean Potkay (Sr, R): 284/.407/.477, 2 HRs, 11 doubles, 17 RBIs, 18 BBs, 20 Ks
5. 3B/2B Garrett Cannizaro (Sr, R): .250/.327/.386, 2 HRs, 6 doubles, 16 RBIs
6. OF Andrew Garner (Jr, R): .235/.287/.306, 1 HR, 16 RBIs, 7 BBs, 23 Ks
7. 2B/3B Tim Yandel (Fr, R): .230/.318/.297, 5 doubles, 7 RBIs, 8 BBs, 20 Ks
8. 2B/OF Bowen Woodson (RS Jr, R): .254/.315/.343, 1 HR, 6 RBIs
9. DH Richard Carthon (Fr, L): .262/.342/.323, 4 RBIs, 5-9 SBs

Defensively, the Green Wave has been solid (.966 fielding percentage), but not amongst the very best in the country as they were last year (ranking 11th nationally). Their catchers have thrown out 14 of 48 attemped basestealers (29%), which is about average at the D-1 level.

On the mound, the pitching staff has one it's job, posting a team ERA of 3.21, BAA of .265, and a 2.2 strikeout:walk ratio. The guys we are likely to face (Rizzoti on Thursday, Byo on Friday, Napoli on Saturday, and their bullpen trio of Garner/Gibaut/Rankin) have fared even better. Rizzoti throws mid-to-upper 90s, has averaged 7.1 IP per start, and has exceptional control. He's certainly lived up to his billing so far. Byo also has excellent control, but is not much of a strikeout pitcher. I can evision our batters being their usual aggressive selves against these two...but against Napoli, the lone quality left-hander on their staff, it might behoove us to show a litttle more patience. True Freshmen RHPs Gibaut (closer) and Rankin (set-up) have admirably filled the void created by injuries to a couple returning relievers (Facundus, Massey)...

Tony Rizzoti (RS So, RHP): 6 starts, 4-2, 45.0 IP, 1.40 ERA, .205 BAA, 7 BBs, 33 Ks
Alex Byo (Sr, RHP): 6 starts, 2-3, 40.0 IP, 2.25 ERA, .266 BAA, 7 BBs, 26 Ks
David Napoli (Sr, LHP): 6 app, 3 starts, 2-1, 18.2 IP, 1.45 ERA, .164 BAA, 11 BBs, 2 HBP, 20 Ks

Andrew Garner (Jr, RHP): 9 app, 1-0, 9.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, .185 BAA, 1 BB, 2 HBP, 5 Ks
Ian Gibaut (Fr, RHP): 11 app, 1-0, 5 saves, 20.1 IP, 1.33 ERA, .194 BAA, 5 BBs, 21 Ks
Daniel Rankin (Fr, RHP): 8 app, 1-0, 18.2 IP, 3.38 ERA, .231 BAA, 8 BBs, 3 HBP, 7 Ks
Brady Wilson (Jr, LHP): 11 app, 1-2, 24.0 IP, 5.25 ERA, .350 BAA, 9 BBs, 3 HBP, 18 Ks

Here are Tulane's individual/team stats over their first 27 games...

http://www.tulanegreenwave.com/sports/m-...mcume.html

Let's bounce back from Tuesday's loss with a resounding Easter weekend performance, and another series win. Let's protect our home turf, especially during conference play (and with the CUSA tournament held at The Reck this year). Time to bring all aspects of the game together-- pitching, defense and offense-- on a consistent basis. Let's take care of business. Go Owls!


Below I have provided several preseason previews and scouting reports on Tulane from the usual sources...

Kendall Rogers/Perfect Game picked Tulane to finish 3rd in CUSA and make the post-season. He also named 4 Green Wave players to his preseason all-conference team (C Crohan, SS Middleton, 3B Cannizaro and OF Boudreaux), and picked TCU transfer RHP Tony Rizzoti as the top transfer and newcomer...
http://www.perfectgame.org/Articles/View...ticle=7957
Quote:* Tulane is as good as it gets after Rice and Southern Miss, and its very close to overtaking the Golden Eagles in our eyes. Though Tulane has stumbled lately when it comes to the NCAA postseason, this club should end that nasty trend this spring. The Green Wave looks strong both offensively and on the mound. Tulane hit .305 as a team last season and returns several key hitters from that club, including shortstop Brennan Middleton, outfielder Brandon Boudreaux and catcher Blake Crohan, who each hit .320 or better. They also welcome back Sean Potkay and Garrett Cannizaro, who each are consistent with power potential. Boudreaux is expected to have an even better campaign this season, while freshman utility player Tim Yandel is a player to watch with very good gap power ... Tulane is excited about its pitching staff for good reason. The Green Wave welcomes back a pair of good starters in right-hander Alex Byo (3.38) and left-hander David Napoli (2.86), while TCU transfer righty Tony Rizzotti might be the guy to watch in the entire conference with a fastball up to 95 during fall workouts. Bullpen-wise, Andrew Reeves is a consistent arm in the closer role while the bullpen is stacked with Alex Facundus, and power arms such as Alex Massey (low 90s FB), Randy LeBlanc and Kyle McKenzie back.



Eric Sorenson ranked Tulane #53 in his preseason countdown...
Quote:The Greenies have fought the injury bug, but if they stay M*A*S*H free the 2013 could be a breakthrough. 1B Sean Potkay (.313-5-30), SS Brennan Middleton (.357, 14SBs) and 3B Garrett Cannizaro (.305-4-42) will keep the 11th-best defense in the country stout again
.

Quote:- TULANE (38-20, 14-10)
2012 ISR: 65

Starters Returning: 6
Weekend Starters: 2
Mid-Week Starters: 1
Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

All Conference Candidates:
SS Brennan Middleton (.357, 14SBs)
OF Brandon Boudreaux (.330-8-36, 10SBs)
3B Garrett Cannizaro (.305-4-42)
LHP David Napoli (7-3, 2.86)
RHP Alex Byo (9-4, 3.38)

NOTES:
- The Green Wave were given the shaft on selection day last year, but there are signs they are definitely on the way back to prominence. This year could be the year they break the sumbitchin’ door down. All 58 of their starting assignments on the mound return to the roster, including the one-two punch of David Napoli and Alex Byo (who seems to have been at Tulane since the late 90s). The only real question mark for this team is whether they can find a rock-solid closer to fill the cleats of David Ponder, who had 12 saves and held opponents to a .193 average...

- The Greenies finished 11th in the country in defense last season and will return Brennan Middleton, Garrett Cannizaro and 1B Sean Potkay (.313-5-30) to the infield. So the dirtbaggers look ready to go and ready to excel.

- It was said that the schedule was the biggest anchor to the 2012 squad’s post-season hopes of the Green Wave. And, rated at No. 142 in the land by Boyd Nation, it’s easy to see why… especially since East Carolina’s was rated at No. 74. Still, on the surface, it doesn’t look like 2013′s slate is any great shakes either with 3-gamers vs. Notre Dame, Alabama, High Point and UT-San Antonio marking their pre-CUSA work. But they will open the season at the Texas State Tournament, playing against the host Bobcats and also Sam Houston State and Missouri State.

- Before we leave the schedule talk alone, it should be noted that TU may have the toughest road to pave in the conference, having to go on the road to face Rice, USM and UCF this season. That’ll put some hair on your chest…. that is, if the Hurricanes down at Pat O’Briens don’t do that first.



Baseball America picked Tulane to finish 4th in the conference and make the post-season...
http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/col...14668.html
Quote:• Tulane, which used to rely heavily on an impact freshmen, has evolved into a team that relies heavily on seniors who don't sign as drafted juniors. This year's lineup has six projected senior starters plus a redshirt junior; the top veterans are 3B Garrett Cannizaro (.305/.378/.420), a fine defender, and CF Brandon Boudreaux (.330/.426/.541, 8 HR, 10 SB). They also return Sr. RHP Alex Byo (9-4, 3.38), who showed what he could do when healthy by tying for the conference lead in victories. During this fall and spring, redshirt Jr. RHP Kyle McKenzie has returned to the form that made him a big-name prep prospect in Massachusetts, making him a breakout candidate. Juco transfer Tony Rizzotti gives this staff another power arm with a nice pedigree, and he has overcome a pair of knee surgeries to show power stuff this offseason. On the whole, this roster looks deeper and more dangerous than it has been in years.
03-27-2013 02:40 PM
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waltgreenberg Offline
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Post: #2
RE: Tulane Baseball Preview-- Winning the Weekend Series
Here's Tulane's game notes for the weekend series...

http://www.tulanegreenwave.com/sports/m-...13aab.html
03-27-2013 02:56 PM
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oliveandblue Offline
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Post: #3
RE: Tulane Baseball Preview-- Winning the Weekend Series
I'm going to miss C-USA. Enjoy this series, since it's not going to last forever.

I hope that Tulane's baseball team (as well as the two $$$ sports) set(s) up a home-and-home deal going forward with you guys.
03-27-2013 03:28 PM
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OldOwl Offline
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Post: #4
RE: Tulane Baseball Preview-- Winning the Weekend Series
I was curious when is the best time to get Couch Graham's autograph? Does he give them out before the game?


I'm going to miss C-USA. Enjoy this series, since it's not going to last forever.

I hope that Tulane's baseball team (as well as the two $$$ sports) set(s) up a home-and-home deal going forward with you guys.
[/quote]
03-27-2013 11:18 PM
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