Done in by tepid hitting Friday, Tulane had a total team breakdown in the third inning against Gonzaga on Saturday.
The Green Wave committed two errors and starting pitcher Alex Massey surrendered three hits as the Bulldogs batted around and scored five times, coasting to a 7-2 victory at Turchin Stadium.
After winning 11 of its first 13 games and entering the college baseball rankings for the first time since 2011 earlier this week, Tulane (11-4) is guaranteed to lose a series for the first time this year. The Wave also has lost two in a row for the first time.
“It’s not much fun, but it’s a long season,” first-year coach David Pierce said. “As we go on in the young season, we’re finding out a lot about our players and our character right now. I expect us to come out ready tomorrow.”
They weren’t ready in the third inning, when Gonzaga (7-7) erased a 2-1 deficit and broke open the game. Massey, who had given up 13 runs in 16.1 innings entering his start, issued a leadoff walk and allowed a single to start the trouble.
The defense let him down from there. First baseman Hunter Williams missed the bag while after catching a throw, loading the bases with no outs. Shortstop Stephen Alemais then bobbled a routine grounder he could have turned into a double play, allowing everyone to advance.
Justin Jacobs followed with a two-RBI single, chasing Massey, and after reliever Emerson Gibbs recorded two outs, Cory LeBrun ripped another single to drive in two more runs.
Tulane never recovered as Massey, who yielded five hits in two-plus innings, added four more unearned runs to his growing total.
“The (errors) are what caused the big inning,” Pierce said. “We didn’t pitch great, but we pitched well enough to at least get out of it with minimal damage. We just didn’t make the play when we needed to.”
The rest of the game was anticlimactic. Tulane put two runners on base in the fourth and three in the sixth, but each of them came with two outs. Alemais stranded all of them, grounding to short in the fourth and to third in the sixth after also leaving two runners on base with a groundout in the second.
He was benched at the start of the eighth, with Jake Willsey going to second base and Garrett Deschamp moving to shortstop.
“We have a lot of kids that are deserving to play, and I’m not going to let any of them drop their guard,” Pierce said. “When they do, we’ll put somebody else in there.”
Gonzaga was sloppy, too, despite the comfortable victory. Alemais hit a triple that could have been cut off for a single to lead off the first inning, and he scored when the relay skipped into the dugout.
Catcher Jake Rogers twice took advantage of the Bulldogs falling asleep, stealing home in the second inning when his counterpart, Joey Harris, walked to the mound without calling a timeout. If that were not bizarre enough, Rogers stole third in the sixth when third baseman Mitchell Gunsolus did the exact same thing.
“It was a heads-up thing,” Rogers said. “I looked up and asked if they called timeout, and when (the answer was no), I just took off. I’ve never seen that before.”
Gibbs retired 16 in a row from the fourth inning until two outs in the ninth, but the Wave could not capitalize on his dominance.
Tulane will try to avoid a sweep Sunday.
“This is the first time we’ve been here,” said center fielder Richard Carthon, who could not chase down a pair of early fly balls. “The biggest thing is how we’re going to respond tomorrow. I’m very confident in my teammates and these coaches. Just because we’ve had two bad games doesn’t mean we’re going to get down on ourselves.”