Three the Hard Way
Tulane and UNO win opening series
Look, you’re most likely from New Orleans or at least somewhere along the Gulf Coast so I don’t have to tell you just how punishing the Carnival season can be. You live it. You love it. You get out on the streets all in name of a good time and I’m right there with you. So, I should’ve had fear in my heart when Krewe Bohème made its debut on Friday night, adding another parade day. Thus, one less day of rest. Thus, I’m writing this in bed right now.
Dear God, New Orleans — what have we done?
Yet, we weren’t the only ones putting in the work as practice is over and college baseball, just like Carnival, has kicked off into high gear. Here’s what went down during the first weekend of the season.
Green Wave Sweeps Series
For the second season in a row the Tulane Green Wave (3-0) swept their opening series, this time versus the George Washington…Presidents? Eagles? Nope, the Colonials.
The first two games of the series offered a month’s worth of excitement as the Green Wave would win 3-2 and 7-6 (in 13 innings), both in walk-off fashion. This series was close to being a gloomy start to the season for the club but you have to admire the team scrapping its way to close victories late in the game much like Coach David Pierce’s clubs used to do way back in 2016.
It was a quirky series and some jitters were apparent as the Green Wave would commit four errors over the series but it was two errors by the Colonials that sealed the series for Tulane.
In the opener, it was Jonathan Artigues hustling out an infield grounder that caused George Washington’s shortstop into an error by overthrowing the first baseman. That error would bring freshman Hudson Haskin in from second base for the victory. The next night, the Green Wave would roll out five different pitchers and ride freshman Krishna Raj the last six innings of the 13-inning affair to steal a 7-6 victory. Another late error by George Washington would lead to Grant Matthew’s sacrifice fly bringing home the winning run and series win.
Sunday’s 16-6 victory looks like a blowout on paper but, heading into the bottom of the sixth, the Colonials officially held a 4-3 lead. However, that’s when their wheels officially fell off as the Green Wave exploded for eight runs, including a grand salami by freshman Haskin. The team would add five more runs and send the Colonials back north still in search of their first victory.
And what a series by Hudson Haskin. In his first three games of his college career the kid scored the winning run in game one, scored the tying run in game two and blasted a grand slam in game three to nail the door shut. That’s a helluva way to say hello the NCAA.
Tulane plays a pair of mid-week games at home versus Lamar University (3-0) on Tuesday and Wednesday before hosting the #10 Ole Miss Rebels (1-1) this weekend.
UNO downs Michigan State
After a wild Krewe Bohème parade and after-party any normal person would’ve played it cool on Saturday but nope, Krewe du Vieux was rolling and your truly just doesn’t miss this satirical parade. Who needs sleep anyway?
After a season opening loss, the UNO Privateers (2-1) quietly posted a massive series win over the Michigan State Spartans. Much like Krewe du Vieux’s R-rated floats, UNO might have had the Spartans muttering some expletives.
After the first game got away from the Privateers pretty quickly in an 8-4 loss, the team bounced back behind a strong pitching performance from junior transfer Chris Turpin, who pitched six scoreless innings for the 4-1 victory. Senior John Barr picked up right where he left off in 2018 by making two appearances in relief and striking out six in 3.2 innings. Barr, the ever-steady Reeves Martin and Matthew Oset (who struck out five in four scoreless innings in the team’s loss) could create a lot of problems for opposing teams if the starting pitching staff can get them the ball with the team in good shape.
On the offense, Pearce Howard went off all weekend going 6-for-10 with one home run and four RBIs in addition to three base on balls. It was a much-needed effort as Beau Bratton had a rough weekend for UNO.
Veterans like Howard, Bratton and Collin Morrill have to be pleased with the play of the “new guys.” Tresten Kennard, Wade Raburn and Salo Iza all arrived to UNO via transfer and all look to be key pieces to the Privateers’ campaign. Iza lit up the Spartans going 3-for-10 with two homers. He would also score five times in the series. These three along with newcomers like Chris Turpin (via transfer) and freshman Steven Swift could make all of those pre-season polls look ridiculous but that always seems to be the case with Coach Blake Dean’s ball clubs.
UNO will play a tough South Alabama squad this Wednesday, Feb. 20 at home and then host the All State Sugar Bowl Classic this weekend at Maestri Field.
I attended the very low-key (as in there are no crowds, just a few neighborhood folks hanging out on their porches) practice parade around Uptown on Sunday with the Lyons Carnival Club wondering about what was going on in college baseball and contemplating all of my bad decisions. Just kidding, there were no bad decisions as I got to see a bit of the Tulane game, march around Uptown and take in what is just the latest of many beautiful weekends in New Orleans.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: NOLA Brewing’s “Muses” Belgian Pale Ale
Playlist Recommendation: The Baseball Project – “Chin Music”
Around the Way
This is easily the most interesting SEC basketball season in years and the LSU Tigers (21-4) are right in the thick of it. A win at home this upcoming Saturday versus the Tennessee Volunteers (23-2) will keep LSU in first place via the head-to-head tiebreaker with four games to go.
Then, get ready for a wild SEC Tournament.