RIVERSIDE, Calif. — For the seventh time this season, Tulane managed to win despite trailing or being tied after the eighth inning.
Saturday afternoon, the Green Wave used a barrage of runs in the final two frames to defeat UC Riverside 6-5 at the Riverside Sports Complex.
Tulane (17-6) trailed 5-2 with two outs in the top of the eighth before the Green Wave’s Hunter Hope hit a two-run homer. Hunter Williams followed with a solo shot to tie the score.
Then, in the top of the ninth, UC Riverside’s Gabe Gentner — who picked up a victory during the Highlanders’ 13-inning 2-1 win — took the mound again. He allowed a base hit to senior Tyler Wilson. Richard Carthon pinch-ran for Wilson and made it to third before senior John Gandolfo brought him home on a base hit into center field to give the Green Wave a 6-5 lead.
Right-hander Patrick Duester made his first relief appearance in the bottom of the ninth — and despite giving up two hits, he closed the game for his first career save and Tulane’s 17th win.
“We’ve done this a lot this year, which is a good sign for our team’s character,” Tulane coach David Pierce said. “We weren’t good early. We didn’t pitch well early and we didn’t have quality at-bats early, but we stayed with it and we were able to get the win.”
Gandolfo blasted his first career home run in the top of the third to give Tulane its first run of the afternoon. He went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and one run.
Junior Emerson Gibbs started for the Green Wave, allowing 12 hits and five runs through five innings.
UC Riverside (9-13) put a single run on the board in the second and third before notching three in the fifth.
But the Tulane bullpen was solid, as junior Jordan Gross fanned two across 1.1 innings, while sophomores Eric Steel and Dan Rankin (3-0) combined to allow no hits over 1.2 innings before Duester took over.
UC Riverside’s Ryan Lillie (0-1) allowed the Gandolfo single in the ninth.
Tulane got solid defense in the outfield, as Gandolfo made a nice diving catch early in the contest to end an inning. Later, sophomore Lex Kaplan made an outstanding throw to home to sophomore Jake Rogers to keep UC Riverside’s Mark Contreras from scoring after a flyout.
At the plate, sophomores Stephen Alemais and Hope each went 2-for-4, along with Wilson and Gandolfo. Hope and Gandolfo posted two RBIs each. Hope scored two runs.
Saturday’s game marked the third time this season that Tulane has posted three home runs in a contest.
Tulane had three-homer games at Pepperdine on Feb. 13 and against San Francisco on Feb. 22.
Tulane will send junior right-hander Tim Yandel (2-0, 1.65 ERA) to the mound at 1 p.m. Sunday in the rubber match. The Highlanders have not named a starting pitcher.
UC RIVERSIDE 2, TULANE 1, 13 INNINGS (FRIDAY): On Friday night, the Green Wave tied the score at 1 in the top of the eighth and pushed UC Riverside to the 13th inning, but lost on a bases-loaded hit. Tulane nearly won Friday despite collecting only three hits.