Mardi Ball Part 2
Green Wave beat the Titans
The roughest part of my, and every Gulf Coast college baseball fan’s viewing season is the first two weekends of the schedule. There’s nothing worse than wanting to check out some parades and knowing that there is baseball to be had at the same time.
Tulane baseball fans have had it a lot easier this year than year’s past. The fans didn’t have to agonize over not being able to head over to the park and seeing interesting series against the likes of Ole Miss, UC Santa Barbara and Notre Dame in lieu of watching the old school parades that they’ve grown up with. However, they did have to contend with not seeing the Green Wave take on Cal State Fullerton this weekend.
Point being, Mardi Ball is tough y’all.
The Tulane Green Wave (6-1) kicked off the weekend in grand fashion with a 1-0 victory over the ranked Cal State Fullerton Titans. More exciting than the win itself was the freakishly dominant performance by “new to us” pitcher Braden Olthoff. The junior college transfer Olthoff went, well, off in recording 16 strikeouts in the complete game win over the Titans that saw him only issue one walk in 113 pitches. It was one for the record books (third most strikeouts in one game) and a much-needed victory for a team still trying to catch its groove.
The second game would be an error-filled affair that saw the Green Wave fight back from a three-run deficit to take a 4-3 lead. The lead would evaporate in the 8th inning as a walked-filled, pass ball, couple of hits type of stanza saw the Titans walk away with the win. Keagan Gillies would take the loss.
The next night, in one of the best low-key moves of the early season, Coach Travis Jewett brought Gillies out in the 13th inning of the rubber match to close out the series. If Gillies is going to be the man, then let’s see him be the man, right? We know he has the stuff. It’s all about getting him used to the closer role at this point. Unfortunately, Gillies, on what could have been a big save, would take a liner off his lower leg and could not walk it off and had to leave the game. This is a big concern if you’re a Greenie but hopefully not an injury that will keep him out. Trent Johnson came in to close the game and nail a major series win for the Green Wave.
As I’ve written earlier, these first two weekends were of major importance to this coaching staff and club after missing the NCAA regionals three seasons in a row. The organization has to be feeling like they’re definitely heading in the right direction (back to the post-season) sitting at 6-1 with a series sweep and victories over Louisiana and Cal State Fullerton. The team will now head into a stretch where they’ll be favored in at least the next nine games. If the team is going to eat, the table is set. Tulane hosts UNO this Wednesday at Turchin Stadium.
The UNO Privateers (4-3) got their groove back with a great weekend sweep over the Sun Belt’s Arkansas State. The Privateers played small ball and took a come from behind 9th inning victory in the first game winning 5-4. Senior starting pitcher Chris Turpin put in yet another solid performance, giving up only two earned runs in five innings worked. The Privateers bats erupted in the second game with standouts Pearce Howard and Beau Bratton collecting RBIs. Freshman Kasten Furr went 2-for-4 with a walk and a RBI in a game that saw UNO destroy the Red Wolves (awesome name) 11-0. In the third game, UNO would eke out a 2-1 victory to get the sweep after Pearce Howard went deep in the ninth inning for the Privateers.
After an opening weekend that saw UNO collect a few unexpected losses this is a massive sweep for the Privateers. This club has a lot of veteran bats that can do damage. It’s a very intriguing year for UNO. The Privateers have two big mid-week games this week as they travel to South Alabama on Tuesday and Tulane on Wednesday. Luckily for them, they’re coming in on hot streak.
The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (2-6) are officially off to a rough start under Coach Matt Deggs. The team was in more than a few pre-season Top 25’s but has had a tough early go of it. After losing the series to Virginia Tech this weekend, a team no one expects to make the post-season, Louisiana isn’t in crisis mode but I’m sure Deggs has a couple of sit-downs planned with his players after the early returns.
Worse than a few losses, which can obviously be overcome, is the absence of an offense. The team just can’t put hits together, hasn’t shown any power and has a serious strikeout problem. The Ragin’ Cajuns have put up just 11 runs in their six losses and six of those came in one game against the Green Wave. Louisiana has struck out roughly at an average of 11 times per games and, in mind boggling fashion, has struck out more than 15 times in three of their first eight games.
Obviously the big horse in state is the LSU Tigers (5-3) and it’s been an interesting beginning to the year. Is the football season possibly hanging over the club? Early losses to Nicholls State and Eastern Kentucky University (even though LSU would win the series) worried some but we’ll really see how good this club can be this week when they play Louisiana Tech, Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma. That’s quite a stretch.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: Second Line Brewing – “Saison Named Desire”
Playlist Recommendation: Steve Riley and The Mamou Playboys – “La Danse De Mardi Gras”