OXFORD, Miss. — With heavy rain forecast for the afternoon, the Tulane and Boston College baseball teams could have played without interruption if they had started at noon Friday in their regional opener at Swayze Field.
Instead, they had to wait for the scheduled start at 3 p.m. with light showers overhead and darker clouds in the distance creating a foreboding atmosphere.
The downpour never came.
The Green Wave and Eagles were done before 6 p.m. as Boston College sent Tulane to the losers’ bracket, 7-2. The intense heat from the practice sessions Thursday gave way to 75 degrees for the first pitch and a constant cloud cover.
Held out of the starting lineup 13 times in a 14-game stretch from mid-April to mid-May, Tulane left fielder Richard Carthon emerged from a prolonged slump while starting five times in a row leading up to the Oxford regional.
He did it in his signature style, with a pair of triples as the Wave won the final two games of its regular-season ending series at Houston to claim the American Athletic Conference championship. His six triples for the year are a league high even though he has started only 39 of Tulane’s 59 games.
Carthon, who gave up football last fall to concentrate on his final year of baseball, was 3 for 27 before his first triple at Houston, negating a hot start when he was batting .350 in late March.
He cannot put a finger on what went wrong.
“It was definitely frustrating, but it was all about staying the course,” he said. “Throughout my life I’ve had to deal with adversity. I’m firm in my faith, and I knew that as long as I kept doing what I needed to do and just kept grinding, everything would work itself out.”
Like most of his teammates, Carthon struggled against Boston College ace Justin Dunn, going 0 for 3.
Boston College and Utah, the No. 3 and 4 seeds in the Oxford regional, were picked last in their leagues in preseason polls.
Boston College won 10 of its first 12 games but started 5-11 in the loaded ACC. The Eagles then won four consecutive series to squeak into the ACC tournament and earn an at-large bid.
“We knew we were going to be picked last going into the year and we sort of laughed at it,” Boston College coach Mike Gambino said. “We’ve got a clubhouse full of guys that care about each other.”
Utah’s rise was much more improbable. The Utes, who had gone 24-95 in their first four years in the Pac-12, were 2-11 before their league opener.
From there, they won eight of 10 series and finished 19-11 in the Pac-12, earning an automatic bid as regular season champion despite a 25-27 record. They exploded for 28 runs in the last 10 innings of must-win games against Washington last Saturday and Sunday.
“We only won seven games in the Pac-12 last year, but we were close,” coach Bill Kinneberg said. “As a staff and as a team we went into the summer thinking we had a chance with a good nucleus coming back.”
Another one bites the dust
Tulane catcher Jake Rogers threw out one of two runners on attempted steals, running his season total to 26 in 42, and the one he didn’t get was on coach David Pierce’s orders.
Boston College’s Michael Strem stole second in the sixth, but second baseman Jake Willsey cut off the throw to make sure a runner on third did not break for the plate.
“We’ve been good there when we’ve thrown through and got the runner, but I just didn’t feel like we were in position to do it and have a double-steal there,” Pierce said. “I think if we let it go through, he’s out and the runner’s still on third base. I trust Jake, but I just felt like it was the right call at the time.”
Utah and Utah Valley State, which was set to play LSU on Friday, flew together from Utah, with the plane stopping in Baton Rouge to let Utah Valley’s players off before continuing to Tupelo, Mississippi. ... Tulane has won five straight elimination games on the second day of a regional.