Swept by Ole Miss over the weekend, the Tulane baseball team (3-3) will learn a lot more about itself in how it responds against Lamar (3-5) on Tuesday and Wednesday at Turchin Stadium.
Second-year coach Travis Jewett certainly is not panicking considering the pedigree of the ninth-ranked Rebels, who improved to 7-0, and the quality of the Green Wave's earlier sweep of Horizon League favorite Wright State.
Wright State rebounded to win two of three at Louisiana-Lafayette, lending more heft to Tulane's performance on opening weekend.
"I told the team after (Sunday's defeat), even after three losses, that we're going to be good," Jewett said. "We're going to be really good. The Ole Miss coaches were really complimentary of these guys, and I think they knew that they had a fight on their hands."
After a tight 5-4 loss in an opener that started Friday and ended Saturday because of rain, Tulane's downfall in Oxford, Mississippi, came from tepid hitting and two bad innings.
The Rebels limited the Wave to two hits in the second game and scored five times in the sixth inning, doing damage against four relief pitchers to pull away for a 9-1 victory.
Tulane had nine hits in the final game and led 2-1 before Ole Miss erupted for five runs in the sixth again — all with two outs. The Wave almost got them back in the top of the seventh, but center fielder Will Golsan tracked down Trevor Jensen's deep shot on the warning track with the bases loaded, and the Rebels held on to win 6-3.
"It's not like we're not good enough or we don't know what we're doing," Jewett said. "We're plenty good enough. We played toe-to-toe with them for the most part. A couple of big innings kind of separate the good from the bad."
Freshman Josh Bates, who has not pitched since a one-out relief appearance in the season opener, will start for Tulane on Tuesday.
Sophomore Chase Solesky, who has allowed eight hits and 4 earned runs in 4⅔ innings over two relief stints, will start Wednesday. Solesky boasted the second-best ERA (3.84) on the team a year ago, going 5-3.
Lamar, picked sixth in the Southland Conference by the league's coaches and sports information directors, split four low-scoring games at home with Hofstra over the weekend. The teams combined for 12 runs, and the Cardinals are hitting .206 for the year.
Tuesday's game will start at 6:30 p.m. First pitch on Wednesday is 4 p.m.
Second baseman Jonathon Artigues moved into the leadoff role on Sunday and had two hits, raising his team-leading batting average to .375. He had only 20 at-bats a year ago but won over Jewett by volunteering for spot duty at catcher after several injuries at the position, even though he never had played behind the plate.
Center fielder Grant Witherspoon, Tulane's only preseason All-American Athletic Conference selection, had three hits on Sunday and is batting .318 with a team-best .444 on-base percentage.
Designated hitter Matt Rowland blasted two home runs in the first game against Ole Miss, giving him three for the year. His nine RBIs are triple his total from all of last season.
Tulane's regular fielders have yet to be charged with an error. Four of the Wave's five miscues have come from pitchers. The other one came from backup catcher Ty Johnson on a stolen base attempt. … The last time Tulane played the same team twice during the midweek was 2013 against Northwestern State. ... Jensen's batting average of .250 is the highest for one of Tulane's newcomers. Belying the new-look feel to the team, the top four hitters and six of the top seven are holdovers.