Mobile, Ala. - Second-seeded New Orleans only scored in four innings,
but put up multiple runs in each frame as to pick up an 11-6 win over
the seventh-seeded Western Kentucky University baseball team on the
opening day of the 2007 Sun Belt Conference Tournament at Eddie Stanky Field.
With the loss, WKU (25-29) will now face Florida Atlantic at 9 a.m.
(CDT) on Thursday (May 24) in the first elimination game of the
tournament. New Orleans (34-23) will play a winner's bracket game
against Middle Tennessee at 4 p.m. on Thursday.
The Hilltoppers put up a pair of early runs against UNO starter
Justin Garcia as Terrence Dayleg hit a two-run home run in the top of
the first. However, UNO took advantage of a pair of defensive miscues by WKU in the bottom of the inning. Sun Belt Freshman of the Year Bart Carter appeared to be getting through an uneventful first as he retired the first two batters, but T.J. Baxter reached on an error to keep the inning alive. After Baxter moved to second on a wild pitch, and stole third, Johnny Giavotella drew a walk to put runners at the corners. Giavotella then stole, and Baxter was able to come home on a throwing error for the first Privateer run of the game. After a Josh Tarnow single tied the game, Carter hit the next two batters to load the
bases. Mark McGonigle then delivered a two-run single to put New
Orleans in front 4-2.
UNO struck again with two outs in the second when Tarnow hit a two-run homer deep to left-center to put his club up 6-2. After a scoreless inning for both clubs, WKU got right back in the game in the top of the fourth. After Scotty Colt and Wade Gaynor led off the inning with back-to-back singles, J.B. Paxson hit a three-run home run to pull the Hilltoppers within one at 6-5.
The Privateers got back in business offensively in the fifth as
Tarnow and Drew Anderson got things started with two straight one-out singles. After Greg Wolfe was hit by a pitch for the third time to
load the bases, McGonigle reached on an error that allowed two runs to score. Brandon Bowser then lifted a sacrifice fly that scored Wolfe to stretch the UNO lead to 9-5.
WKU got a run back in the seventh when a two-out single from Casey
Hamilton plated Scott Kaskie to make it a three-run game. The
Hilltoppers threatened again in the eight, loading the bases with two
outs, but reliever Adam Campbell got Dayleg to line out to center to
end the threat and keep it a 9-6 game.
The Privateers took advantage in the bottom of the inning as a
leadoff single from Joey Butler and a double by Baxter put runners at
second and third, and ended the day for Carter. Chad Adcock came out of the bullpen and surrendered an RBI single to Giavotella. Tarnow
then grounded into a double play, but Baxter came home to score on the play to push the UNO lead to 11-6.
Campbell then retired WKU in order in the ninth to close out the game
and pick up his seventh save of the year.
Offensively, Colt and Gaynor each had two hits for WKU, while Paxson drove home three runs with the home run. Tarnow went 3-for-5 with three runs scored and three RBI to lead the Privateers.
Carter (6-5) suffered the loss as he allowed 11 runs (6 earned) on
nine hits, while walking five and striking out three in 7.0 innings of
work. Garcia (6-4) allowed five runs on seven hits over 6.0 innings to
get the win.