HOUSTON — Tulane withstood a 3½-hour rain delay and then a final charge from the Houston Cougars Saturday evening at Schroeder Park.
The Green Wave went on to take a 4-3 win over the Cougars to claim the American Athletic Conference regular-season title and earn the No. 1 seed for the conference postseason tournament.
The tournament begins Tuesday at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida. The Green Wave (37-17, 15-7) will play its tournament opener at 6 p.m. Tuesday against No. 8 Central Florida.
The regular-season title is Tulane’s first since 2005 and its first AAC crown in any sport. Tulane finished percentage points ahead of second-place East Carolina, which was 15-8-1.
Facing a must-win situation Saturday, Tulane opened the game with a three-run first inning. Hunter Williams slammed a two-run home run to left fieild, and Jeremy Montalbano followed with a solo shot, also to left.
Houston (33-22. 11-12) fought back to tie the score with single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. In the seventh, Jake Willsey’s one-out home run put the Wave back on top.
Tulane’s J.P. France retired the final nine 10 Houston batters in order to preserve the win. France (6-2) went four innings in relief of Alex Massey, and gave up one run on two hits.
The AAC tournament will be played in a double-elimination format through the semifinal round. The championship final is a winner-take-all matchup Sunday to determine The American’s automatic berth into the NCAA tournament.
Tuesday’s tournament-opening doubleheader will be televised by CBS Sports Network.
Sunday’s final will be televised at 11 a.m. on ESPNews.
The championship opener will feature Cincinnati, the No. 4 seed, against No. 5-seeded Houston at 2 p.m. Tuesday. The Bearcats, who were picked eighth in conference preseason coaches’ poll, won five of their eight conference series to finish four places higher than their projection.