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Tulane and UNO baseball struggles
What happened to those wild days back in 2016 when the city of New Orleans was not only host to one but two winning division one baseball programs? They were halcyon days when we not only watched the Tulane Green Wave fighting for and win the American Athletic regular season conference title, but also clicked over to watch the UNO Privateers play in the Southland Conference tournament because, damnit, it really felt like they had a chance to win it all.
Honestly. Where did those days go?
What seemed like a stepping stone season, a new foundation, evidently turned out to be a slippery stone as both teams are well into their latest campaign and need some help. Of course, you know I like to keep it positive, so I will note that we are not at the halfway point of the season yet but…that is next week.
Tulane Green Wave (11-14)
Since Coach David Peirce led the Green Wave to that regular season title in 2016 and then promptly headed for the green pastures of Austin, Texas, Coach Travis Jewett and the Green Wave have gone 38-45. Outside of a minor mid-season rally last year Jewett’s teams have seen more downs than ups. This year’s team is struggling at the plate and the mound and while no die has been cast some stats are starting to paint a scary picture.
Tulane just can’t seem to buy a hit on some nights and there is no better example than the team’s last two Sundays. The Green Wave’s sophomore pitcher, Keagan Gillies, delivered a gem this past Sunday versus the Cincinnati Bearcats, going 8 innings and only giving up one run.
Tulane lost 1-0.
If that’s not enough of a kick in the pantaloons, Gillies’ previous outing saw the Brother Martin High School graduate pitch 6.2 innings against Long Beach State and only give up one run as well.
Tulane lost 1-0.
In a worrisome carryover from last year, the bats just aren’t showing up in big numbers. But, whereas last year’s ball club led the American Athletic in home runs, this squad doesn’t go yard that often. Grant Witherspoon, Kody Hoese and Jonathon Artigues are definitely pulling their weight at the plate but need some help and there are way too many guys with batting averages hovering closer to .150 than .250.
But keep hope alive. Gillies has been a stud so far and starting Friday night pitcher Kaleb Roper looks impressive as well. I also like the look of freshman pitcher Josh Bates. To me, it truly seems like there could be a contending team on the field but the parts just haven’t clicked together yet.
New Orleans Privateers (9-15)
As rough as it is in Uptown, it is straight up “Mayday” time on the Lakefront. The Privateers, with their slow start to the 2018 campaign, are in jeopardy of missing their first Southland Conference playoffs under Coach Blake Dean.
Coach Dean took over a ballclub in 2015 that had lost an outlandish number of games over the previous three years (they went 32-122) and immediately led the Privateers back to the Southland Conference playoffs in his first two seasons with the club. Last year, UNO knocked NCAA regional participant Southeastern Louisiana out of the conference tournament before falling to eventual NCAA regional champion Sam Houston State. This year UNO has been knocking themselves out.
The Privateers’ pitching staff is a little wild, ranking second in the conference in walks and batters hit by pitch. On the other hand, they do lead the league in strikeouts but when the other team puts the bat on the ball there are a lot of extra base hits. It actually is a really fun team to watch.
However, dropping a series to Abilene Christian, a team picked to finish last in the Southland, earlier this year does not bode well for the teams’ playoff hopes.
Both teams play in leagues where only the top eight teams advance to the conference tournament, which means you better start picking up wins now.
Tulane got off to a decent start in the conference with a series win over UC, a team picked to finish last in the American Athletic, but have to travel this weekend to play South Florida, the best hitting team in the conference, who tout a dominant lefthanded pitcher in Shane McClanahan. That’s after heading across the lake to take on Southeastern Louisiana tonight, a team they’ve already lost a mid-week game to this year.
UNO is already in a major hole, standing at 2-7 in the Southland. The good news is their next two conference series are against A&M-Corpus Christi and a dreadful Lamar team. The Privateers could pick up some series victories versus these clubs.
So, it ain’t over until it’s over, folks. And every baseball lover knows their favorite team is just one hot streak away from having us talking about that unbelievable comeback and dream finish.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: Chandeleur Island Brewing’s “Lil’ Miss Sour Tangerine” Sour
Playlist Recommendation: Jack White – “Over and Over and Over”
Around the Way
Speaking of unbelievable comebacks, the New Orleans Pelicans (43-31) are well positioned to make the playoffs, even after taking a pretty good beating at the hands of the Houston Rockets.
This week, the Pelicans will have to prove they’re for real as they take on the playoff-contending Portland Trailblazers (45-28), Cleveland Cavaliers (44-29) and Oklahoma City Thunder (44-31). Save us, Anthony Davis!
Their playoff chances might come down to the last game of the year. Unbelievably that game will be against the San Antonio Spurs. Is that a good omen?