Tulane baseball battling for top spot in AAC

Mark Keplinger, Sports Editor

Tulane baseball remains second place within the American Athletic Conference heading into a major three-game homestand against the conference leaders East Carolina Pirates. In the past two weeks, the Green Wave has gone 5-3.

On April 6, Tulane dispatched the Southern University Jaguars comfortably with a 19-5 midweek win. Ethan Groff and Luis Aviles both had four RBI days, with Aviles hitting two home runs. The Jaguars committed four errors on the night, and the game was called early in the seventh inning.

Two days later, the Sluggerbirds hosted the South Florida Bulls for a three-game series. The hosts took the series win by Saturday, but USF prevented a sweep with a win on Sunday.

The Friday night game saw an exciting first inning with catcher Bennett Lee cutting down a runner attempting to steal third base in the top half of the inning before Tulane quickly jumped out to a 4-0 lead. The Bulls tied the game by the third thanks to a two-run home run and two sacrifice fly balls, but the Green Wave would retake a 6-4 lead in the bottom half of the inning.

The Bulls would gain a run back in the top of the eighth, but two more insurance runs gave Tulane the 8-5 win. Grant Siegel picked up the win for Tulane thanks to his eight-strikeout day, while Zach DeVito got the save.

Tulane dominated the second game 6-0, with left-handed starter Dylan Carmouche pitching seven brilliant innings for the hosts. Offensively, Brady Marget’s three-hit, three-RBI day was crucial for the win.

USF got some consolation on Sunday with a 13-8 win. The Bulls stormed out of the gates leading the game 8-1 after five innings. However, the Green Wave’s six-run sixth inning made the game competitive again. The Bulls held off Tulane’s comeback attempt with the visitors scoring five runs in the final three innings.

On April 12, Tulane tied the Pelican Cup with a win away against the New Orleans Privateers. In a low-scoring, low-offense affair, the Green Wave’s five hits were enough to get the 4-2 win. Using six different pitchers, Tulane’s bullpen stranded nine baserunners.

On April 14, the Green Wave flew to Texas to take on the Houston Cougars. The Cougars took the first game 6-3 despite Tulane outhitting Houston 11 to 8. Houston starter Jacob Deese allowed eight hits and only struck out two batters in his seven innings of work but only allowed two runs all game.

The Olive and Blue leveled the series with an 11-10 win in an action packed game. Groff and Lee led the way for Tulane with four RBIs between them. DeVito was credited with the win thanks to the closer shutting down the Cougars despite giving up three runs in the eighth.

Houston took the series in game three thanks to a 10-9 win. The Green Wave led 4-1 through four innings, but the visitors collapsed in the bottom of the fifth. Houston put up a staggering nine runs in the inning, with Tulane pitchers Michael Massey and Carter Robinson failing to silence the Cougar bats. Brian Valigosky finished the game for visitors on the mound and pitched three scoreless innings. The Green Wave surrendered 16 hits in the loss.

Next up, the Green Wave will host the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles before hosting AAC leaders, the East Carolina Pirates. ECU has a better record within the conference, but Tulane has a better overall record.

For the Green Wave, they will look at the bats of Groff, Jackson Linn, Aviles and Marget for offense. All four batters are hitting over .320 this season. On the mound, Siegel is Tulane’s best pitcher with an ERA of 2.15. Closer DeVito has proven to be an asset to the team, logging nine saves thus far.

On ECU’s side, the Pirates had two players on the AAC weekly honor’s list. Outfielder Bryson Worrell won player of the week thanks to hitting .438 in the three-game sweep of the University of Central Florida. Pitcher Jake Kuchmaner made the honor roll with his 5 1/3 shutout innings.