NEW ORLEANS — Tulane’s baseball team features 10 seniors and a wealth of experience across the field.
So games like Saturday afternoon’s 3-1 loss to Notre Dame at Turchin Stadium are difficult for the Green Wave players to explain.
Tulane (3-3) committed three errors which led to two runs, and failed to piece together hits at critical times en route to losing its first home series of the season.
Despite compiling eight hits, including a pair of doubles, Tulane couldn’t bunch its offense together for the second straight night. In its two losses to the Fighting Irish (4-1), the Green Wave has combined for just two runs, despite 15 total hits.
“Their pitching staff is good, no question, but I thought that early in the game, we were once again unaggressive in fastball-hitting counts with runners on,” Tulane coach Rick Jones said.
“We didn’t bunch any hits together today, and I thought that was maybe one of the reasons we lost today. You go from being maybe not as aggressive in the fastball counts, then you start chasing things out of the (strike) zone. Then a little panic sets in and then you chase that.”
It’s the continuation a slow offensive start for Tulane, which saw its average with runners in scoring position dip to .216 and its slugging percentage is languishing at just .303. On Saturday, the Green Wave stranded the potential tying run in scoring position in four different innings.
Still, Tulane’s seniors insist it’s no time to stress, just six games into the season.
“We are not getting in a panic mode. We are six games into a 56 game schedule,” senior shortstop Brennan Middleton said. “We are staying strong; we are staying competitive and we are going to play one game at a time. And that’s it, period.”
But what may be more disappointing to the Green Wave right now is a mistake-riddled defense, which has committed nine errors in six games, compiling a .961 fielding percentage. It’s a far cry from Tulane’s Conference USA-leading .978 defensive unit last year.
The trio of errors on Saturday didn’t help matters. Jones referred to his team’s defense as “sloppy” and “intolerable” and said he believes it cost Tulane a chance to win.
Notre Dame’s two-run first inning was aided by catcher Cameron Burns’ throwing error, which allowed Frank DeSico to score, and was followed by Ryan Bull’s RBI double. A potential inning-ending double play in the seventh was foiled when Middleton bobbled the exchange, and Eric Jagielo capitalized with a run-scoring single on the following at-bat to stretch the lead.
“Obviously, when you have an extra run there, it takes so many things away from you,” Jones said.
“When I’m down one run, you get a runner on base, then we can bunt. But if we’re down two, we have to get two runners on to bunt, and so it changes everything. That one run is huge in a game like this, because it’s a plateau run, and it changes the way the game is played on the other end. So that was big.”
Meanwhile, five Notre Dame pitchers wiggled out of jams, allowing its only run in the second inning when Burns doubled in Andrew Garner to slice the lead to 2-1. Five different Irish pitchers combined to strike out eight Tulane hitters. The Irish didn’t allow the Green Wave to advance past first base in the final three innings.
Tulane turns to redshirt freshman Kyle McKenzie at noon Sunday in an attempt to salvage the final game of series.