Almost nothing went right for the Tulane baseball team in its American Athletic Conference debut.
Connecticut scored twice in the top of the first inning and added to that advantage, beating the Green Wave in every department while winning 6-0 on Friday night in front of 1,887 fans at Turchin Stadium in the league opener for both teams.
Tulane (17-9, 0-1 AAC), which won 11 of its first 13 games, has dropped four of five and been outscored 25-9 in its last three.
UConn (16-8), which has yet to play a home game this season, has looked quite comfortable on the road recently. The Huskies have beaten three opponents this week by the combined score of 41-3.
This one went bad for Tulane from the start and never got better. The Huskies had back-to-back-to-back singles before starter Corey Merrill (1-2) recorded his first out, leading to two runs in the first inning. The Green Wave went three up and three down in each of the first four innings before UConn ace Carson Cross (6-1) allowed a base runner.
UConn went ahead for good on Blake Davey’s sacrifice fly, which right fielder Lex Kaplan caught on the warning track for the first out. The Huskies scored again in the first on a passed ball from catcher Jake Rogers.
That was the first defensive lapse that cost Tulane.
In the top of the second, shortstop Stephen Alemais made a wild throw for an error, allowing leadoff hitter Willy Yahn to reach safely. After a sacrifice, UConn scored on an RBI single.
In the sixth, Rogers dropped a third strike for what would have been the third out, keeping another inning alive before the Huskies scored a run on a double.
It was a rough defensive night for Rogers. He also threw high on a stolen-base attempt after nailing 18 of the first 25 base stealers for the year, the nation’s best percentage, before getting replaced by Cameron Burns in the eighth.
UConn scored in a more conventional way, too, getting a two-run blast over the left-field wall from No. 9 hitter Jon Testani off Merrill to go ahead 5-0 in the sixth.
Tulane did not get anyone on base until John Gandolfo singled with one out in the fifth. He was stranded at third when Jake Willsey struck out for the second time.
The Wave threatened again in the seventh, but Cross struck out pinch hitter Tyler Wilson with the bases loaded to preserve a 6-0 lead.
Of Tulane’s four hits off of Cross, one came when Cross failed to pick up a slow roller to third and another came when Alemais laid down a perfect bunt. The rest of the time the Wave struggled to make quality contact.
Tulane’s struggles continued even after Cross left. In the eighth, Alemais tried to score from third when a pitch popped away from catcher Max McDowell, but McDowell scrambled to tag him out before he touched the plate.
The Wave, which has shut out six opponents, went scoreless for the second time, following a 2-0 loss to Gonzaga on Feb. 6. That was another game Merrill pitched, but although he has been victimized by non-existent run support repeatedly in his two-year career, he contributed to his own demise.
He entered with a 1.33 ERA, not allowing more than two run in his first six starts. This time, he was tagged for five (four earned) in six innings.