Tulane baseball cratering despite late comeback bids

Mark Keplinger, Sports Editor

tulane baseball
Courtesy of Parker Waters

Tulane baseball continues its non-conference schedule with series losses to the No. 24 Campbell University Camels and against the University of Pennsylvania Quakers. After the weekend, the Green Wave is 3-14 on the season.

On March 7-8, the Camels dominated in two games played at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium. The visitors won the March 7 matchup 17-7 thanks to a Tulane pitching meltdown and a six-inning gem from Camels’ starter Hunter Loyd. The next day, five Campbell home runs and a 13-run day looked to ensure a Camels win. However, a late Green Wave fight back saw the hosts score 6 runs in the final two innings. But the Camels held on to close out the game and series with a 13-11 win.

Tulane head coach Jay Uhlman said after the second game, “Too much to overcome early in the game and it made it harder as the game transpired. But, you know, I do feel at least from that standpoint, winning the last three innings of each day is a good sign. We just shot ourselves in the foot.”

On Friday night, Tulane hosted the Pennsylvania Quakers. For the second game in a row, Tulane had a late comeback bid fall short as Penn secured an 8-5 win. Tulane ace Dylan Carmouche got into trouble with baserunners early, but timely strikeouts limited Penn’s runs to just 2 in the first five innings. Meanwhile, Tulane struggled to score its baserunners for much of the contest and also only managed 2 runs in the first five innings. For the whole game, Tulane stranded 13 baserunners.

The Quakers dealt heavy damage to the Tulane bullpen with a 4-run sixth inning, and tacked on 2 more in the eighth and ninth innings due to Green Wave defensive errors. On the mound, Penn relied on starter Owen Coady and long reliever David Shoemaker to combine for 8.2 excellent innings on 202 pitches. 

Tulane’s fortunes drastically changed on Saturday night when the Sluggerbirds finally awakened. The hosts came away 8-5 victors, thanks in large part due to Teo Banks. Banks hit a solo home run, a triple and a single en route to a three RBI day. On the basepaths, Banks also scored a run on a safety squeeze play and had a diving catch for an out in right field.

Simon Baumgardt’s two-run home run, Brady Marget’s two RBI singles and Penn’s poor defense all contributed to an offensive explosion. The Quakers overthrew their intended targets, allowed one ground ball through the third baseman’s glove and experienced an outfield collision between center and left field in an uncharacteristically sloppy defensive game from the visitors.

On Sunday, Tulane fell 13-10 in the series decider. The hosts scored first when a Chase Engelhard triple drove in Seth Beckstead. Penn struck with a two-run home run in the top of the third but Jackson Linn’s solo homer in the bottom of the fourth allowed Tulane to level the score. 

Penn took the lead with the assist of several defensive errors from Tulane. In the fifth inning, a ground ball — which should have been an inning-ending double play — got past second baseman Engelhard. A wild pitch later in the inning scored a run. A sacrifice fly ball scored 1 more for Penn in the sixth.

In the seventh, Tulane struggled to handle what should have been an inning-ending ground out. The Quakers immediately pounced with two RBI singles and scored on a wild pitch giving the visitors a 7-2 lead.

Brennan Lambert cut the deficit by two when he hit a two-run home run into right center field, but Tulane completely fell apart in the top of the eighth. The Wave gave up 6 runs on five hits and an error. 

With little hope, Uhlman swapped almost the entire lineup but the bench players embarked on a remarkable comeback bid in the bottom of the ninth. After two quick outs, the Sluggerbirds scored 6 runs on four hits and an error which included a two-run home run from Tracy Mitchem — his first ever collegiate hit.

However, Penn held on when the tying run, Jared Hart, grounded out to third base to end the game. 

Overall, Tulane’s bad defense and bullpen cost the team. The team committed six errors in the last five games. “It’s the little things in the games, the details that get away. It’s taking care of the baseball, backing up bases, communicating and getting big hits early in the game … It’s unfortunate that we haven’t gotten those hits and the breaks aren’t going our way. And it will not continue to go our way as long as we don’t take care of the small things,” Uhlman said.

Tulane keeps showing fight at the end of games — the team’s mentality is a silver lining that has led them to the verge of staging some remarkable comebacks. This trait has potential to be potent later in the season, so long as the small details can be cleaned up.

Outfielder Mitchem summed up this mindset best: “I think it says a lot. We don’t have any quit you know, we’re never out of it. We play through all 27 outs no matter what the score is … I think it speaks a lot to the character of our guys on the team that we have no quit and just play to the final out every time.”

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