Illinois rallied for five runs in the final two innings to hand the Tulane baseball team its first loss of the season, a 5-2 defeat Sunday at Turchin Stadium.
Tulane pitcher Emerson Gibbs struck out six in 6.1 scoreless innings, but the bullpen relinquished the lead in the eighth.
“The starting pitching was great all weekend,” Tulane coach David Pierce said in a university news release. “We were bad in the bullpen, and we have to fix that. Today, we just didn’t put the ball in play when we had guys in scoring position, and that was the biggest killer for us early on.”
Senior outfielder Richard Carthon tripled and scored on an RBI single from junior shortstop Stephen Alemais in the third inning for the game’s first run. Junior third baseman Hunter Hope added to the lead in the sixth with a solo home run to left-center.
But Illinois (1-2) collected four hits in the eighth while scoring three two-out runs to capture the lead before tacking on two more in the ninth on a two-run double by Matthew James.
Tulane (2-1) used five pitchers out of the bullpen, with J.P. France, Tim Yandel, Dan Rankin and Sam Bjorngjeld all throwing 0.2 innings. Yandel (0-1) took with the loss after surrendering three runs and three hits.
Illinois’ J.D. Nielsen pitched 2.1 innings for the win after replacing starter Andrew Mamlic in the sixth. Nielsen (1-0) struck out two after Mamlic posted six Ks.
At the plate, the Green Wave got multi-hit performances from Carthon, junior Jeremy Montalbano and freshman Grant Witherspoon, who made his college debut. Illinois’ Jason Goldstein was 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
The Green Wave returns to action Tuesday against Alabama A&M. First pitch at Turchin Stadium is set for 6:30 p.m.