GREENVILLE, N.C.–With their season on the line, Tulane’s players finally loosened up a bit. It’s been a trying year for the Green Wave, who have been forced to play their entire season at Zephyr Field, home of Triple-A New Orleans. Players like Brad Emaus and Warren McFadden have pressed, and their draft stock has slipped as a result. But Emaus looked relaxed in Tulane’s 13-5 win against Alabama-Birmingham in the Conference USA tournament Thursday, going 3-for-3 with a double and three walks. Tulane coach Rick Jones said it was the first time all year his junior second baseman has looked comfortable and seemed like the player who hit 13 homers as a freshman. The third-team preseason All-American raised his average to .333 with the strong performance.
McFadden, a redshirt sophomore outfielder, didn’t fare quite as well, leaving the game in the second inning after rolling his ankle while running out a ground ball. A second-team preseason All-American after leading Tulane with a .382 batting average last season, McFadden had gotten hot before rolling his ankle while jumping for a deep fly ball in Tulane’s April 13 win against Southern Mississippi. He hasn’t been the same since, and his average dipped below the .300 mark. He’s questionable for Tulane’s next elimination game tomorrow.
Junior righthander Sean Morgan was the real story for the Green Wave. Morgan got off to a strong start this year before going into a second-half swoon along with the rest of the Wave. After beating East Carolina 2-1 on March 30, Morgan posted a 6.52 ERA over his next seven outings. He has now put together back-to-back solid starts, following his seven-inning, two-run victory against Chicago State last week with a seven-inning, four-run win today. He struck out six, most of them with his sharp-breaking 84-86 mph slider. An American League area scout said Morgan did a good job keeping the ball down, though his fastball topped out at 91 mph. Jones said the biggest key for Morgan was getting ahead in the count.
“He threw strike one a lot more than he has been, so he didn’t have to throw in hitter’s counts much,” Jones said. “He’s got real good stuff, and his breaking ball looked real good today.”