There hasn’t been a more intense year from day one for the Tulane Green Wave baseball team since I’ve started writing this blog. If you’ve read my humble corner of the web more than once you know that I am not only a fan, but also a hard core advocate for the Tulane Green Wave. I just love the damn team. I rolled in right before the David Pierce years and surfed that very exciting wave for two years. The Green Wave nation was hyped and it was a beautiful thing to see. The future wasn’t just bright it was actually a given. Tulane was about to win and win and win — and then it didn’t.
Unfortunately, sometimes reality gets in the way, but on the flip side, sometimes teams also make a comeback or finally find their legs or the program comes together or whatever sports saying you enjoy goes here. The point is — this ball club has a great shot at making the NCAA regionals.
Green Wave Nation is definitely not happy about the state of Tulane baseball and that’s exactly how it should be because the fans have an expectation that this club should win. For folks just joining the program already in progress what you’ve seen recently is not what you should get. The Green Wave have hit some lows that the program is unaccustomed to, the biggest being the club’s recent back-to-back losing seasons. Fortunately that streak was broken last year but, unfortunately, it was also the third year in a row that the team missed the NCAA regionals.
So can the team make the NCAA regionals this year? Absolutely. The Green Wave returns a bunch of the offense that set many AAC records last year. Yes, Kody Hoese has moved on to the big leagues but don’t pretend a lineup that features Hudson Haskin, Jonathan Artigues, Frankie Niemann and Grant Mathews can’t light up a scoreboard. This team still has plenty of firepower. You know what? I’ll just keep going. The Green Wave bats also feature David Bedgood and Ty Johnson, a starter coming back from an early season injury last year. Considering how Hudson Haskin blistered the league last year it’s very enticing to see his brother, Parker Haskin, on the team this year. The offense is primed for another great campaign.
Which brings us to the rhinoceros sitting in the living room. Does the team have the pitching staff to back up the offense? To be honest, it remains a question mark because last year pitching was missing in action once again. However, the Green Wave pitching staff is also a great example of why you should never just look at the stats to judge a game, player or season. For example, from a guy that watches more Green Wave baseball than most, I think there were many instances of starters or relievers being kept in the game far longer that they should have been. I’m not saying the coaches were wrong for doing it, I’m just a man in the seats, my point is that when you see a returning pitcher sporting an elevated ERA your first thought should not be that the kid can’t play. For example, I think some of the returning pitchers, despite last season’s stats, are still big time players.
First off, I know there are a bunch of new faces and junior college players that will (hopefully) play big roles with Tulane this year. I will definitely talk about them in the future if a conversation warrants their mention. However, I’m a big time believer in believing in the guys who have gone through the fire and deserve all of our respect.
Keagan Gillies is a hometown kid straight out of Brother Martin high school. He’s had the weight of a starting pitcher in a big program put on his shoulders ever since he started wearing the Olive and Blue. Heading into the season he’ll bring the experience of 30 starts to this year’s club. After a great 2018 season he got beat up a bit last year. Point being, he’s salty and if you’ve ever seen him play you know he likes to play with a chip on his shoulder. In my eyes, all of these ingredients mix up into great batch of gumbo or, since the season is here, an outstanding boil. I don’t care what day Gillies plays on the weekend, a lot of weekends will be determined by Gillies’ play and that should get every Greenie excited.
On the back end, Tulane features Connor Pellerin, a junior out of Baton Rouge that many publications name as a can’t miss MLB prospect. Again, don’t let last year’s ERA fool you. It was just an all-around rough year for pitchers and coaching staff alike. Pellerin has struck out 84 batters in 70 innings and will be called on once again to close out some big games. Another reliever to be very excited about is Justin Campbell. Last year he had 47 strikeouts in 47 innings and I think will have an amazing year on the mound. The club threw him into every kind of situation last year but if he can be utilized in just a middle innings or closer role this year I think it will pay big dividends.
It will be a do-or-die year in Uptown. The Green Wave faithful demand an appearance in the NCAA regionals and everyone on the coaching staff knows it. It’s all high stakes this year and that always makes for exciting baseball. Get thee to Turchin Stadium my friends.
The Green Wave open the season hosting the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles this Friday. Roll Wave.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: Great Raft Brewing’s “Reasonably Corrupt” Black Lager
Playlist Recommendation: The Baseball Project – “Chin Music”