Tulane baseball coach David Pierce mixed up the pitching assignments for Tuesday night’s game with Nicholls State.
He did not need to change anything in the batting order because the same hitters remained white hot for the Green Wave.
Junior closer Ian Gibaut pitched three solid innings in his first career start, while Stephen Alemais, Lex Kaplan, John Gandolfo, Hunter Williams and Richard Carthon each had two hits as Tulane cruised past Nicholls State 7-1 at Turchin Stadium.
The Wave (21-12) won its second in a row after dropping six of its previous eight.
The Colonels (18-13-1) lost for the first time in six games.
Gibaut (5-3), who had been roughed up in his last two relief outings (ERA: 16.20), surrendered a run in the first but retired seven of the last eight batters he faced. He was credited with the win because his three-inning stint was pre-determined.
“I just wanted to build his confidence back up, and that’s what he needs,” Pierce said. “He still left the ball up a lot, but he competed very well, and that’s the main thing.”
The Wave did not trail for long. Alemais led off the bottom of the first with a sharp single, stole second and scored on Kaplan’s triple. Gandolfo, batting third, then singled up the middle to put Tulane ahead for good, 2-1.
“A lot of people are hitting right now, have really good approaches at the plate and are really confident,” Alemais said. “We just have to carry that into the weekend (in an American Athletic Conference series at Houston).”
The shots kept coming as Tulane posted back-to-back double-digit hitting games for the third time this season. Carthon and Alemais singled in the second as the Wave went up 3-1. Williams’ two-out single plated Kaplan and Gandolfo in the fourth.
Tulane added a run in the fifth and another in the sixth when Williams laced an RBI double down the right-field line.
Williams, who had hit .333 in his last five games, increased his team-high RBI total to 20.
Alemais, who entered with a team-best .333 average for the year, had his 16th multi-hit game.
Carthon, who emerged from a season-long slump to hit .308 in the last five games, added two more singles — one on a perfectly placed bunt.
Gandolfo, the hottest of them all, went 2-for-4, giving him 19 hits in his last 11 games.
“We’ve been swinging it really well,” Williams said. “The consistency is a big thing. Everyone, one through nine, is buying in, doing their job and putting good swings on balls.”
Tulane improved to 6-1 against teams from Louisiana, with the only loss to LSU. The Wave had won at Nicholls State 5-0 earlier this year and beat UNO and Southeastern Louisiana in home-and-home series.
After Gibaut left, Tim Yandel and Dan Rankin pitched two scoreless innings. Normal midweek starter Patrick Duester, whom Pierce said might take over the closer role from Gibaut, struck out the side in the eighth after inheriting a runner on first. He put the Colonels down in order in the ninth, too.
Duester, who entered with a staff-best ERA of 2.00 among pitchers who had gone more than five innings, earned his second save when Tulane salvaged the final game of its series against East Carolina.
Nicholls State starter Cole Stapler (2-1), a 6-foot-5, 240-pounder, came up small this time. He left after three innings, allowing six hits and three runs while walking two, struggling against almost everyone in Tulane’s order.
“Any time you get continuity in your lineup, that gives everybody a little bit more comfort,” Pierce said.