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Tulane Baseball: Season Beginnings

17:00 February 18, 2015
By: 2Fik

Tulane appears to be reaping the rewards of their 2013 recruiting class, which was ranked as the nation’s 23rd best by Perfect Game at the time. The 2014 Green Wave squad was flawed in many ways, in large part due to the exorbitant number of true freshmen that were in the lineup, all of whom members of that class, which was mostly put together by then assistant/recruiting coordinator (and later interim head coach) Jake Gautreau, who was not retained by new head coach David Pierce upon his arrival at Tulane last June.

As Hall of Fame basketball coach Al Maguire once said, “the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores.” Well, the Green Wave were led to a series win over Pepperdine (who reached a Super Regional in 2014, before eventually being eliminated by TCU in 3 games), by a number of sophomores, including shortstop Stephen Alemais, right fielder Lex Kaplan, and catcher Jake Rogers, who hit .455, .455, and .417 over the weekend, respectively.

Joining Kaplan in the outfield is Grant Brown, a sophomore from Gulfport, MS, who hit his first career home run over the weekend and junior Richard Carthon, the two-sport speedster from Shreveport, LA. Along with Rogers and Alemais, the infield is rounded out by sophomore first baseman Hunter Williams, sophomore third baseman Hunter Hope, and senior second baseman Garrett Deschamp, who was also a member of that 2013 class after transferring from LSU-Eunice. Deschamp paced the Wave with 4 RBI’s this weekend while Hope blasted his first home run of the young season.

As Hall of Fame basketball coach Al Maguire once said, “the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores.”

Pitching, and pitching depth, will be a huge determining factor for this 2015 team. Sophomore Corey Merrill, one of Tulane’s more effective returners from 2014, got off to a bit of a rough start Friday night, allowing a pair of runs in just 3.1 innings pitched, as did Saturday starter, junior Alex Massey, who allowed 4 runs, 3 of them earned, in 5 innings pitched. Oddly enough, Tulane would go on to win both of those games, but lose Sunday’s, which was started by junior Tim Yandel, who was named the American Athletic Conference’s Pitcher of the Week after allowing no hits in his 6.1 innings pitched (Tulane lost 2-1 after holding a 1-0 lead heading into the 9th inning).

Beyond those three, Tulane has some highly capable bullpen arms in the form of junior Ian Gibaut (who was included on Perfect Game’s 2015 list of top 100 juniors) and sophomore Eric Steel, who was outstanding in Friday’s win, allowing no runs, no walks, and just 1 hit in 4.2 inning pitched.

David Pierce leads this 2015 Tulane team as they look to return to a Regional for the first time since the 2008 season, and only the 3rd time since their magical 2005 season that saw them advance to the College World Series for just the second time in program history. Pierce, it’s safe to say, is a winner. He comes to Tulane after a three-year stint as the head coach of Sam Houston State, where his Bearkats complied a record of 121-63, and advanced to an NCAA Regional all three years under his leadership. Prior to that, he was an assistant for Rice University, under Wayne Graham, from 2003-2011, where the Owls made a Regional all nine years, a Super Regional six times, the College World Series four times, and won the National Championship in 2003. Prior to accepting the hitting coach job at Rice, he held the same title at the University of Houston for the 2001 and 2002 seasons, when the Cougars advanced to a Regional and a Super Regional, respectively. 

After four straight road games to begin the year, Tulane will return home this weekend. Fans who come out to see Wave’s opening series at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium against the University of San Francisco (Friday 2/20 6:30, Saturday 2/21 4:00, Sunday 2/22 1:00) should expect to see a young, energetic, talented Tulane team that plays hard and makes the most of their ability. Whether that will be enough to return to postseason play is still a long way from being determined, but it’s fair to say that the Green Wave are off to an exciting and impressive start.

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