After 4-12 start, Tulane needs to start winning now for Green Wave to ride the Road to Omaha
Tulane (4-12) is hoping to get improved pitching from Corey Merrill (pictured) and its other weekend starters when they square off against Columbia (0-9) in a three-game series beginning tonight at Turchin Stadium.
Did anyone see it coming? Sure, there were whispers that it took some time for the players to warm up to their new coach, but with his pedigree, coming from Vanderbilt – where he help build a College World Series champion – surely he’d have the Midas Touch that would return Tulane to consistently be one of the top baseball programs in the country. The team is loaded with seniors and returning starting pitching. They looked more than capable of repeating as American Athletic Conference champions and making a deep push into the postseason.
Instead, Tulane has limped to a 4-12 start, winning just 25 percent of their games. What’s more, of the Green Wave’s four wins, three have been by just one run.
“We're more than capable of getting to Omaha,” he said at his introductory press conference. “Not only getting to Omaha, but to win a national championship. It's doable, and I see it.”
In head coach Travis Jewett’s office and in the tunnel between the team’s locker room and the dugout hang identical signs that read “College World Series” underlined by “The Road to Omaha.” Tulane’s “Angry Wave” logo and Riptide, the school’s pelican mascot, bookend either side of the text. The signs are reminders of his ultimate goal as well as his belief in his players’ ability to reach the sport’s ultimate heights.
Through 16 games, Tulane is 3-7 at home and 1-5 on the road.
After splitting games with Air Force to start the season, they lost games to Army and Southeastern Louisiana, got swept in a three-game series at UC Santa Barbara, and lost a mid-week matchup with Southern Miss. That put them at 1-7 through eight games.
Their next eight games saw improvement to a 3-5 record. They started the span by winning the first two games in a home series with West Virginia. Last weekend saw the Wave swept in a four-game series at home against San Diego. On Wednesday, they beat Nicholls State in a bash down on the bayou.
Jewett has had to depend on his bullpen, a question mark before the season, more than he’d like to this early and will look for more out of his weekend starting pitching. Senior ace Corey Merrill has a 1-2 record with a 6.75 ERA in four starts. Over 22.2 innings, he’s given up 29 hits and 17 earned runs, while striking out 18 batters. Saturday starter junior J.P. France is 1-1 with a 5.29 ERA in three starts. In 17 innings, he’s given up 18 hits and 10 earned runs with 13 Ks. Sophomore Ross Massey, Tulane’s Sunday starter, is 0-2 in three starting appearances. His 8.71 ERA comes from giving up 10 earned runs on 15 hits in 10.1 innings pitched.
Tulane has a chance to turn their season around beginning this weekend. The Blue and Green will host Columbia in the first meeting between the schools in a three-game series Friday through Sunday at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium. The Lions are 0-9 and may be a bit gassed as they have played six times since March 10. The Green Wave play two midweek games, the first at home against McNeese State on Tuesday, then on the road against Louisiana-Lafayette on Wednesday in a rainout makeup from March 7. Next weekend they’ll return home for a three-game series against Stetson.
After next weekend’s tilt with the Hatters, Tulane will begin conference play. The squad should be picking up momentum at this point. They’ve won just 25 percent of their games. There is still time for this team to turn around their fortune. This next 10 days will be crucial if they intend to repeat as conference champions and make any hay in the postseason.
Tulane’s games against Columbia start at 6:30 p.m., Friday; 4 p.m., Saturday; and 1 p.m., Sunday. They will be broadcast on 88.3 FM WRBH and the TuneIn Radio app. Live video and stats will be available on www.TulaneGreenWave.com.