MONROE, La. - A stellar offensive outing from Joey Rapp and steady pitching from Shelby Aulds carried the ULM baseball team to a 9-3 win over Tulane Tuesday afternoon in the opening game of 2012 at Warhawk Field.
Rapp tattooed the first pitch he saw from Tulane starter Alex Byo (0-1) deep to left center field, easily clearing the fence to also bring in Les Aulds and Caleb Clowers and give the Warhawks a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
ULM (3-1) was not finished in the inning, as Corben Green and Brandon Alexander each followed the home run with singles to put men on first and second with nobody out. Judd Edwards chopped out to shortstop for the first out of the frame, but not before Green scored to extend the advantage to 4-0.
The Warhawks scored an unearned run in the second inning on a sharply hit ball to second base by Green that stretched the early lead to 5-0. Green Wave catcher Jeremy Schaffer answered in the top of the third, crushing a Fraser Adams pitch out of the park to bring Tulane within three at 5-2. Adams maintained his focus, forcing a Sean Potkay fly out to center field to escape the inning.
Tulane (4-1) added a run in the top of the fourth when Garrett Cannizaro pushed Brennan Middleton across on a groundout to Jeremy Sy at shortstop that closed the deficit to 5-3 in favor of ULM. The momentum would be short-lived, as Rapp lined a 2-0 Byo offering out of the park in left field to make the score 7-3 Warhawks.
Shelby Aulds (1-0) held the Green Wave in check during his first 2.2 innings of work, striking out Middleton to close the top of the sixth and maintain ULM's 7-3 cushion. Aulds did not allow a hit until Schaffer touched him up for a base knock in the top of the seventh. Nick Schneeberger flied out to Alexander in center to end the mini threat.
After ULM added a run in the bottom of the seventh inning to up its lead to 8-3, Aulds motored through the Tulane order 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth to hold the Green Wave at bay. Sy drilled a triple to the alley in deep left center field off reliever Alex Facundus that plated Edwards and upped the home team's grip (9-3) with a half-inning to play.
The Warhawks closed Tulane out in the game's final frame, with Aulds forcing Brandon Boudreaux to ground into a 4-6-3 double play for the win.
Rapp reached base in three of his four plate appearances, driving in a career-high five runs and scoring a pair of his own. Clowers added two base hits and scored three runs, while Alexander chipped in two hits and an RBI. Aulds threw an impressive 5.2 innings of one-hit baseball, striking out three to earn his first win of the season.
Schaffer led the Green Wave with three hits and drove in two runs. Blake Crohan added a pair of base knocks for Tulane. Byo allowed seven runs (five earned), walking three and striking out two to take the loss.ULM is back in action Wednesday night at 6 p.m. inside Warhawk Field against Southern Mississippi. Live audio and video will be available at ulmwarhawks.com.