In a long, painful season for Tulane’s once-proud baseball program, effective offense has often been in short supply.
Saturday afternoon against Southern Miss, three Green Wave freshmen provided enough of it.
Grant Brown, Lex Kaplan and Stephen Alemais combined for seven hits and four RBIs, giving pitcher Randy LeBlanc enough run support in a 5-3 victory over Southern Miss at Turchin Stadium, evening the three-game Conference USA series.
The rubber match is at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Alemais, hitting leadoff, was 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs. Kaplan was 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI.
Brown, a left fielder from Gulfport, Miss., who’d started only 10 games this season, was 3-for-3 with a run and an RBI.
It was his first three-hit game in college.
“You can’t say enough about what Grant Brown did for us today,” interim head coach Jake Gautreau said. “I’m very happy for him. He’s a guy that has not had many opportunities early in the year, but has made the most of them here lately. Southern Miss being an in-state school — he’s a Mississippi boy, so it’s nice to see him do well today.”
LeBlanc (4-4) lasted seven innings and evened his record despite a rocky fifth inning in which Southern Miss cut its deficit to 4-2.
Tulane (19-25, 7-14) had scored four times in the bottom of the fourth to take an early lead against the Golden Eagles (28-20, 15-8), who began the day two games behind first-place Rice.
The game was scoreless heading into the bottom of the fourth. Brown walked with one out, and freshman catcher Jake Rogers moved him third on a single. Designated hitter Richard Carthon put down a sacrifice bunt down the first-base line in an attempt to score Brown on a squeeze, and a fielding error by Southern Miss’ Bradley Roney allowed Brown to come home safely.
The runs didn’t stop there. Southern Miss’ Christian Talley walked freshman Jake Willsey to load the bases for Alemais, who doubled in Carthon and Rogers before Kaplan added an RBI single to score Willsey.
LeBlanc allowed six hits and three earned runs. He walked one and struck out four for his first victory since April 4.
Sophomore reliever Tim Yandel pitched the final two innings for his first career save.
“Randy LeBlanc and Tim Yandel were very good for us today,” Gautreau said. “Randy set the tone for us really nicely, and getting (Randy) those runs early I think was nice.”