NEW ORLEANS — Mist and misery were the dominant themes at Turchin Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
After a one-game absence because of an illness, Tulane baseball coach Rick Jones was back in the dugout as a light ran fell most of the way. He had to watch Memphis hit three home runs in a 16-0, series-evening win that ended after seven innings because of a rarely used Conference USA 15-run rule that applies only to Saturday games.
It was the most lopsided shutout loss for Tulane since another 16-0 defeat to Mississippi State in 1960 and the worst defeat of any kind since a 19-1 loss to Rice in 2010, also in seven innings. The only shutout loss with a higher score was 20-0 to Spring Hill in 1930.
“It was an extremely disappointing day, and we’ve had a few of them,” Jones said. “Memphis dominated us in every phase of the game.”
Tulane (13-12, 1-1 C-USA) still can take the series by beating Memphis (13-9, 1-1) on Sunday, but it might not be easy to recover from this one.
“We have to be the same team every day, and we’re having trouble doing that,” said Richard Carthon, who reached base in his first two plate appearances but was stranded both times. “I think once we get it figured out, we’ll be OK. We just have to find a way to dig deep even when adversity comes. Right now, some days, we handle adversity well, and some days we don’t.”
Memphis’ Colton Simbeck started the homer spree with a monster blast off the scoreboard in the second inning, giving Memphis a 2-0 lead. One inning later, he drilled a three-run shot that banged off the left-field foul pole.
Simbeck, a sophomore, had no home runs in 80 career at-bats entering the game.
Jake Little added a solo homer in the fourth, matching the number of homers Tulane had allowed in its first 15 home games.
Byo (2-3), a victim of hard hits and hard luck, gave up nine hits and 10 runs (five earned) in 2.1 innings.
“I felt better than I felt last week out there, which raises even more questions as to what happened,” Byo said. “The only thing I can think of is that everything was up; it wasn’t moving. Just didn’t have my best stuff today.”
Nothing went right for Tulane. The Green Wave committed four errors that led to 10 unearned runs.
Only two of the Green Wave’s four hits off of Erik Schoenrock (3-1) reached the outfield, and the Wave went without an extra-base hit.
“We’re not very physical,” Jones said. “We don’t have that many big, strong guys. We had to win with pitching, defense and being able to be as solid offensively as far as moving runners and having good at-bats.”
Jones felt bad because he was recovering from flu-like symptoms and because of Tulane’s poor performance, but some news about the injury-ravaged pitching staff made his mood even more gloomy. He said the Green Wave, which is down four pitchers in what was supposed to be a deep group, may not get any of them back this season.
He already knew Tyler Mapes, who had Tommy John surgery after two early starts, was done. But Alex Massey, who had offseason shoulder surgery after starting on weekends a year ago, suffered a setback in the bullpen during practice this week, as did Alex Facundas (shoulder issues), a stalwart setup man in 2011. Andrew Reeves, a Friday starter last season, still can’t throw at all because of a forearm strain.
None of them has pitched this year.
“I don’t think we’re going to get any of them back anytime soon, if at all,” Jones said. “Probably well over a third of our scholarship money is sitting over there on the injury list, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to be back at all.”
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