RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Tulane used some of its late-inning magic to send Friday’s series opener at UC Riverside into extra innings, but the Highlanders got a bases-loaded hit in the bottom of the 13th inning to win 2-1 at the Riverside Sports Complex.
Tulane (16-6) made it to the 13th inning despite collecting only three hits on the night.
The Green Wave trailed 1-0 in the top of the eighth when sophomore Lex Kaplan hit his second home run of the season to tie the score.
Vince Fernandez hit a sharp grounder with the bases loaded to end the contest, giving UC Riverside (9-12) the win.
The Highlanders got on the board in the bottom of the first on a shallow single to left field by Mark Contreras that scored Fernandez from third. Green Wave sophomore Corey Merrill settled down after that frame and had another outstanding outing on the mound. The Lutcher High graduate product struck out seven UC Riverside batters while allowing just four hits and one run in eight innings.
“I thought Corey Merrill did a great job of giving us a chance to win,” Tulane coach David Pierce said. “He pitched eight great innings. Jordan Gross and Ian Gibaut did their jobs. We just couldn’t generate any offense.”
After the home run by Kaplan, Tulane used relievers Gross and Gibaut (4-2) to riddle the Highlander batters for much of the rest of the game.
Gibaut struck out four in 3.2 innings but allowed two singles and hit a batter to load the bases in the 13th. Sophomore Dan Rankin took the mound with no outs, but a defensive shift by Tulane could not stop UC Riverside from picking up the victory.
UC Riverside’s Angel Landazuri pitched eight innings, allowing two hits and one run while fanning 13.
UC Riverside used two other pitchers before handing the ball to Gabe Gentner for what would be the final two outs. Gentner (3-0) earned the win.
Kaplan was 2-for-5. Sophomore Jake Willsey collected Tulane’s only other hit.
The loss to UC Riverside on Friday night was the first for Tulane in the five-game series between the schools.
Junior Emerson Gibbs (2-0, 0.69 ERA, 20 Ks) will start for the Green Wave when the teams play at 3 p.m. Saturday. UC Riverside will counter with Kevin Sprague (2-3, 3.90 ERA, 16Ks).