Tulane baseball team rolls into Alabama for three-game series

NEW ORLEANS — Roll Tide?

Nah, says the Tulane baseball team. Roll Wave.

As their team bus chugged to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for a three-game set against Alabama, Tulane’s players were squarely focused on stealing the series from an 8-1 Alabama team that, the Green Wave hopes, can be caught napping against 4-5 Tulane.

“We know they’ve been playing well,” senior outfielder Brandon Boudreaux said Thursday. “They haven’t lost a series. Maybe they’ve gotten a little comfortable where they are, and we’re trying to catch them off guard, that’s for sure.”

The Green Wave is coming off a hard-fought but crucial win against crosstown rival UNO Wednesday that snapped a four-game losing skid. After Wednesday’s game, Tulane coach Rick Jones said the victory could provide his team with some momentum as it faces a tough Southeastern Conference squad this weekend.

“Obviously, a very challenging weekend coming up with Alabama in Tuscaloosa,” Jones said. “(The Tide is) playing very well, so (the UNO win) was big for us.”

While the Tulane pitching staff has been more or less effective through the first nine games, the Wave has had trouble at the plate. Tulane is carrying a .227 team average and .316 slugging percentage.

Boudreaux said that has to change against the Crimson Tide.

“Our pitching has been doing great, but we’re struggling offensively,” said Boudreaux, who himself is hitting .160 and slugging .240. “We haven’t been winning by big margins, and offensively we need to find a spark plug so we can put runs on the board and help out our pitching.”

Jones said his squad needs to employ any tactic it can to push runs across.

“Getting on base any way you can, scoring any way you can,” he said. “Right now, we’re not going to be choosy about scoring runs. Any way we can get them, we’ll take.”

Coincidentally, offensive woes have also dogged the Alabama squad. Although Alabama has posted better numbers than Tulane so far, coach Mitch Gaspard said he isn’t satisfied with what he’s seen at the plate.

“We’ve done what we’ve had to do to put up some wins, but we’ve had to piece together things offensively,” Gaspard said. “We’ve kind of had to grind out our at-bats and take advantage of other teams’ mistakes. We’ve been very opportunistic. Right now, we’re not where we’d like to be after eight games.”

Gaspard said his squad has been solid defensively, especially up the middle, and the pitching staff has matured from last year, giving the Tide experience and depth on the mound.

But Gaspard said the Wave pitching staff has also looked good — especially Tony Rizzotti, who sports a 1-1 record but carries just a 1.20 ERA. He added that although Tulane comes into this series with a losing record, the Tide is still wary of the Wave’s potential.

“I know they’ve got really good starting pitching, some power arms,” Gaspard said. “We know they’ve had it tough recently, but they’ll be a good team — especially when they find their rhythm.”

Boudreaux and the rest of the Wave hope they can find such a groove this weekend, especially after showing their resiliency with their comeback win against UNO, a victory he called “a big win for us. It helped us get our feet back under us.”

Up next: The Crimson Tide.

“Alabama is playing well, but we want to go into a hostile environment, try to sweep them and get back on a roll,” Boudreaux said.