Tulane opens four-game road trip at Nicholls State _lowres

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Tulane head baseball coach David Pierce watches his team play Pepperdine at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium in New Orleans, La. Saturday, March 5, 2016. Tulane won 11-0.

After sweeping Furman at Turchin Stadium, the Tulane baseball team is about one win behind the pace coach David Pierce considers reasonable when he looks back at the first 16 games.

Where he would really like to see improvement, though, is on the road, and the Green Wave (11-5) will get plenty of chances this week. It plays at Nicholls State (7-9) on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. before a three-game series at Texas over the weekend.

Tulane has lost four in a row away from it home turf since beating Arizona at the Tony Gwynn Classic on Feb. 26 in San Diego, including defeats to Southeastern Louisiana and UNO the past two weeks.

“It just seems like we haven’t thrown enough strikes and made routine plays,” Pierce said. “Those things are easy to fix in my opinion. That’s the bottom line. We have to throw more strikes like we do at home, and we’ve just got to be better on the dirt.”

Tulane committed four errors while six pitchers combined to walk seven and hit two batters in its 13-4 loss to Southeastern. The walk total increased to eight with two more hit batsmen at UNO. The Wave also made two errors, misplayed a few other balls and failed to turn what would have been a game-winning double play as the Privateers rallied to win 10-9.

Redshirt sophomore J.P. France (0-0, 6.00 ERA) will start against Nicholls State while normal midweek guy Ross Massey gets the night off because of soreness. France has control problems of his own, issuing nine free passes in as many innings while throwing two wild pitches, but he struck out eight in 3.2 innings at UNO.

“For three innings last week he was really good,” Pierce said. “He had two of his three pitches and was OK with his changeup. He’s got to get better at managing the game, and he’ll do that with experience. He’s a very young sophomore.”

Nicholls State has struggled against a tough schedule since sweeping four games from Mississippi Valley to open the season, losing to SEC opponents Alabama, LSU and Mississippi State (twice) by the combined score of 35-5. The Colonels will throw right-hander Daniel Goff (0-0, 3.86), making his first start after eight relief appearances.

The way the Wave has swung the bat this year, Goff will need to be sharp. Tulane is hitting .301 with 19 home runs, ranking among the top 20 nationally in that category.

“We are going to have to go over there ready to play,” said Pierce, who is 2-0 against the Colonels at Tulane and was 5-1 at Sam Houston State. “We have to get off of the skid on these midweek away games.”