Tulane baseball drops first 2 series

Mark Keplinger, Sports Editor

Tulane baseball is having a dismal start to the 2023 campaigns with losses on the West Coast and in their home opener. The team managed a single victory in seven games played — although they had the opportunity to win several others.

Over the Mardi Gras weekend, the Green Wave traveled to Irvine, California to play the University of California-Irvine Anteaters. The Wave lost all three games — 3-0, 11-4 and 1-0. Despite great pitching performances by Dylan Carmouche on Friday and Ricky Castro on Sunday, the Wave could not generate any offense. In the midweek game away at the California State-Fullerton Titans, defensive errors late in the game led the Green Wave to a 6-5 loss.

On Feb. 24, Tulane returned to Greer Field at Turchin Stadium for their home opener against the St. John’s Red Storm. Carmouche dominated in his six innings of work with eight strikeouts, but did let up a two-run home run in the top of the fourth inning.

Offensively, Tulane scored four runs in the first seven innings, with Brennan Lambert driving in three of them.

In the eighth inning, St. John’s scored on a sacrifice fly, but Brady Marget’s solo home run gave the Green Wave a 5-3 advantage heading into the ninth. In the top of the ninth, St. John’s hit a double and a single to reduce the lead to 1. After a sacrifice bunt and wild pitch, the visitors had a man on third with one out. After a ground ball to third base, the runner was caught in a run down, where he would eventually score when Gavin Schulz dropped the ball in a diving tag attempt. The runner was initially ruled out, but the call was controversially overturned on replay review. 

With the game tied at five, a single and an error by left fielder Jackson Linn allowed St. John’s to take the lead and put a man on third, but a ground out and strikeout ended the inning. Tulane failed to rally in the bottom of the ninth, giving the visitors a 6-5 win.

Tulane’s hopes seemed to turn around on Saturday thanks to a quality start from Cristian Sanchez and a three-run home run from Linn in the fourth inning. However, disaster struck in the sixth inning when the Johnnies struck for six. The visitors added one more in the top of the seventh and cruised to a 7-3 win.

Sunday was Tulane head coach Jay Uhlman’s birthday, and the team gave the perfect present with a dominant 9-3 win. Castro had another great start for Tulane, while the Sluggerbirds amassed 10 hits including home runs from Seth Beckstead and Chase Engelhard. Tulane also capitalized on poor fielding and pitching from St. John’s after the visitors committed two errors. The Red Storm threw several wild pitches and was unable to throw out Tulane base runners attempting to steal. 

When asked on how big of a relief getting the first win of the year was, Uhlman said, “It’s more of a relief for me for the players because it’s about them. I’m happy for them and the fact that [the] pressure of that part is off, now we can kind of let our hair down so to speak, and then go after it.”

The team has shown flashes of brilliance, yet there are issues to address particularly in the sluggish hitting by several starters, defensive mistakes in the late game and the bullpen. However, there are some promising signs, like the starting pitching and the bats of Lambert and Marget. 

Despite the slow start, the team is not losing confidence in themselves and kept reiterating how things will eventually fall their way. “It’s baseball. It’s early on. If this game was easy, everyone will play [it]. That’s the old cliche saying but we’re staying confident, we’re staying ready and it’s gonna fall our way someday,” Lambert said.

Linn was asked when the season would start to turn around for the team. The left fielder said, “I mean, it could happen at any moment. It’s gonna swing our way. We just as a team need to understand that we’re so talented, and that we can get through this.”

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