Weekend Wrap-Up: Wave baseball drops first season series to Gonzaga

Christian Szczepanski, Contributing Reporter

The Green Wave (12-4) battled it out against the Gonzaga Bulldogs (7-8) this past weekend at Turchin Stadium, but the Bulldogs broke the Waves spirits as Tulane lost the first two of the three-game series.

Game one opened strong for both teams, with Tulane sophomore pitcher Corey Merrill throwing 8.1 scoreless innings. Yet, after hitting one batter and letting another manage a base hit with one out, Merrill set up a sticky situation for relief pitcher Ian Gibaut, who let both runners cross home leading to a Gonzaga 2-0 lead.

With Gonzaga pitcher Brandon Bailey also scoreless through 8.0 innings with 10 strikeouts and relief pitcher David Bigelow’s one-hit ninth inning, Tulane couldn’t return the runs. Merrill recorded his first loss of the early season as a result.

Errors, bad calls, miscommunication, and poor decision-making hurt both teams during game two, costing six of the nine runs to be unearned.

Things were looking up for the Green Wave near the beginning of the game. Tulane redshirt junior pitcher Alex Massey struck out three batters in the first two innings and sophomore short-stop Stephen Alemais legged out a center-field triple and scored on an error by the Gonzaga third baseman.

The tone shifted slightly in the bottom of the second when Tulane sophomore catcher Jake Rogers stole home when the Gonzaga catcher Joey Harris forgot to call time during a pitcher-catcher conference. The game quickly spiraled out of control, though, surprisingly, the Green Wave ended on the wrong side.

The first five batters of the top of the third inning all reached base and all subsequently scored. With two errors, three hits, and two walks in the half-inning alone, Massey and relief junior pitcher Emerson Gibbs had trouble getting a handle on a situation and Gonzaga’s line-up batted through its entire order.

The remaining six innings went quickly and quietly. Gibbs only let two hits and one run in all six, scoring him a 1.285 ERA, and Alemais made a terrific flyout in the Tulane bullpen.

Batting limited the Green Wave in this game as well, though, as the Wave left a total of nine players on the bases. Massey recorded his second loss of the season, oddly enough mimicking the same score of 2-7 from the Saturday before against Creighton, a game Massey also pitched.

Game three began with a quick double play between the Tulane second and first basemen. Neither team managed to capitalize on any of their base-runners until the bottom of the third inning when Gonzaga pitcher Gage Burland walked four of five batters, leading to a Tulane run.

Tulane never lost the lead as junior pitcher Tim Yandel earned a quality start, pitching 7.0 scoreless innings and only allowing two hits. Sophomore second baseman Jake Willsey managed to snag two great line-outs, one of which held two base-runners from scoring much-needed runs for Gonzaga.

The Green Wave picked up its offense as well on Sunday as a two-out home run blast by Tulane senior designated hitter Tyler Wilson, his first of the season, padded the lead to 3-0 and brought a much needed surge back into the Tulane batting order.

Gonzaga still had a strong showing throughout the game. Both pitchers knocked down a total of 12 of Tulane’s batters, exactly half of the outs in the game.

Yet, Tulane relief pitcher Ian Gibaut returned during the series and in two innings, managing two strikeouts, a double play, and his first save of the season.

The Wave finished the series with only winning one of the three games this weekend and next play Southern Mississippi (8-6-1) Wednesday in Hattiesburg, Miss.