Needing to sweep a regular-season ending doubleheader at Memphis in the worst way, Tulane played some of its best baseball of the year.
After rallying to beat the Tigers 5-2 in a game postponed overnight by rain and shortened to seven innings, the Green Wave pounded them 9-1 in the finale on Saturday, rising into a tie for third place in the American Athletic Conference, the third-best RPI league in the country.
A loss in either game would have dropped Tulane (33-21, 13-11 AAC) into fifth place and likely killed the Wave’s at-large hopes for an NCAA regional. Most projections have the AAC getting three or four bids into the tournament.
Tulane, which is trying to end a six-year postseason drought under new coach David Pierce, started the day outside the top 50 in the RPI but rose to No. 38 as of Saturday evening according to WarrenNolan.com.
Winning both end of the doubleheader appeared unlikely. Memphis (35-19, 12-12), which beat Tulane 7-3 in the series opener Thursday, had been 6-1 in the second games of AAC series and 5-2 in the closers.
But the Wave, which trailed 2-0 entering the fifth inning of Saturday’s first game, outscored the Tigers 14-1 for the rest of the day, completing an impressive surge in the second half of the season. Tulane was in last place in the AAC at the start of April 19 before finishing 9-4 while taking four of its last five series.
TULANE 5, MEMPHIS 2: In game one, Tulane fought through an early 2-0 deficit behind some clutch hitting by senior Garrett Deschamp, who got the offense going with his third home run of the season in the top of the fifth. That woke up an offense that had only two base hits at that point.
Richard Carthon followed with a double in the top of the fifth before coming home to tie the game on a wild pitch.
While Memphis had wrapped up scoring in the game, Tulane was not finished, as Deschamp came through big in the top of the sixth with a two-RBI double that scored sophomore Lex Kaplan and freshman Nico Symington.
In the top of the seventh, Alemais added to the lead after singling, stealing second and third before coming home on a throwing error.
On the mound, Alex Massey was lights-out, as he allowed just four hits in a seven-inning complete game. Massey (6-3) fanned six while walking just three.
Massey’s counterpart, Dylan Toscano, was credited with the loss after allowing four runs on six hits in 5.1 innings. Toscano (8-2) struck out five.
TULANE 9, MEMPHIS 1: Tulane scored seven runs through the first three innings. There were two rain delays, but nothing could cool off the Tulane bats, as they rolled out a season-high 19 hits.
“The thing that I really recognized throughout the day is that our team had fun,” Pierce said. “They were relaxed in a tense situation, and it was fun to watch them in that position.”
Deschamp continued his hot hitting. The senior went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs. With the score already 4-0 in the top of the third, senior Tyler Wilson and sophomore Hunter Williams posted back-to-back singles before Deschamp brought them home on a two-run double.
Junior Emerson Gibbs stayed warm throughout the delays on his way to a six-inning, one-hit performance. Gibbs (4-3) struck out two during the contest in one of his finer outings of the season.
Williams was 4-for-4, while Wilson went 4-for-6. Freshman Jackson Johnson went 3-for-6 with three RBIs.