So much for those new baseballs.
Opening night in Turchin Stadium unfolded a lot like it did last year, as Tulane and San Francisco battled into a scoreless deadlock through eight innings before the Green Wave (4-1) finally broke through with a run in the ninth.
Tulane squeezed out a 1-0 win to open the series against San Francisco on a walk-off walk by Tyler Wilson.
The breakthrough came when the Green Wave finally got to into the Dons’ bullpen. It started when Hunter Hope slapped his second single of the game, before Stephen Alemais and Jake Rogers walked to load the bases with two outs, prompting San Francisco’s second pitching change of the inning.
That’s when Wilson stepped to the plate to face Logan West. West launched a wild pitch that nearly rolled to the dugout but Hope didn’t see it, forcing two more pitches before Wilson took ball four and the Green Wave charged out of the dugout.
It was Tulane’s third consecutive ninth-inning win and it’s fourth piece of late-inning heroics in the young season.
The night belonged to the Green Wave’s pitching staff and defensive prowess.
Starter Corey Merrill pitched around an array of jams en route to seven scoreless innings. The sophomore allowed five singles and a pair of walks, but thanks to a series of dazzling defensive plays and clutch pitching he was able to keep the Dons off the scoreboard.
Shortstop Stephen Alemais darted to his left to snag a hard-hit ball, before nabbing Kyle Nixon at first base. Then center fielder Grant Brown stretched out to rob a pair of dying fly balls in the third and fifth inning.
And just when it appeared the Dons would finally break the deadlock in the eighth, Brown held up the zero again by leaping in front of a line drive with a pair of runners on base to log the third out and escape another jam.
Catcher Jake Rogers thwarted a fourth-inning rally by catching two different Dons stealing second base to start the frame. Merrill also registered a critical strikeout on a full count with the bases loaded in the third.
As Merrill and the Green Wave relievers danced in and out of scoreless innings, San Francisco starter Anthony Shew simply mowed through Tulane’s batters. The Dons’ ace tossed six no-hit innings, pitching around one hit batter and a pair of walks to keep Tulane from even threatening until Hunter Hope broke up the no-hitter on a single in the seventh.
Tulane put runners in scoring position — Alemais stole a base after reaching on a fielder’s choice and pinch runner Nico Symington advanced on a passed ball — in the seventh and eighth innings, but Shew was able to pitch around the late jams to keep the game.
Once again, Merrill received no support. The Green Wave ace has yet to record a win in 12 starts despite a career ERA better than 3.50.
Both Shew and Merrill threw 106 pitches before being replaced.
The Green Wave return to action tomorrow afternoon for the second game of the series at 4 p.m.