The Tulane baseball team capped a comeback week with one of its most complete performances of the season, shutting out Southern Miss 3-0 on Sunday at Turchin Stadium to win the weekend series.
The only question is whether the resurgence amounts to too little, too late. The Green Wave (20-25, 8-14 Conference USA) remains three games out of eighth place in the conference and is a long shot to make the league tournament with two weeks left in the regular season.
“We’re not going to worry about what everybody else is doing,” interim coach Jake Gautreau said. “We’re going to worry about what we’re about, how we prepare and how we go about our business. We’re not going to stop. We’re going to put the pedal down and keep trying to play good, aggressive baseball.”
Almost everything worked as Tulane capped its final C-USA series with Southern Miss — the Wave is leaving for the American Athletic Conference — in style.
Former Friday starter Tyler Mapes (5-4) pitched a six-hit shutout, winning for the first time since March 21 against Middle Tennessee. That also was the last time the Wave won a conference series, but it was in total control Sunday after splitting the first two games with Southern Miss (28-21, 15-9).
Tulane, which had lost the final game of every series since sweeping Arkansas-Pine Bluff to start the season, was aggressive on the mound, at the plate and on the bases.
Mapes induced 15 ground-ball outs and never was in any real trouble. Even when the Golden Eagles loaded the bases in the fourth inning, two of the hits were infield singles, and Mapes struck out Connor Barron to end the threat.
No one else reached third base until the ninth, when Mapes finished his first career shutout by getting an easy grounder to second baseman Garrett Deschamp with runners on second and third.
“That was one of his best performances, if not his best performance, since he’s been here,” Gautreau said. “Our offense fed off of him.”
The Wave had 11 hits and would have won even more comfortably if two runners had not been thrown out at the plate.
Tulane scored the only run it would need in the first inning when freshman Grant Brown singled in Deschamp, who was hit by a pitch with two outs and advanced to second on Andrew Garner’s sharp single to right.
Hunter Hope followed with another hit, but left fielder Breck Kline’s strike nailed Garner at the plate.
It didn’t matter. Stephen Alemais drove in another run on a single to right field with two outs in the second, and Tulane added an insurance run in the sixth by perfectly executing a squeeze play. Richard Carthon bunted to the right side, and Hope easily beat pitcher Bradley Roney’s throw to the plate after breaking from third.
Southern Miss starter Cody Carroll (3-1) took the loss, lasting five innings while giving up eight hits.
“It’s exciting,” said Tulane freshman catcher Jake Rogers, who had his first three-hit game. “We had a good team performance today. Everyone came out to play, and you have to love it. We had good energy today.”
Hope and Deschamp had two hits apiece. Brown, who had four hits in 25 at-bats entering the series, extended his hitting streak to five consecutive plate appearances with singles in the first and third. He also has four straight games with RBIs.
“I’m seeing the ball really well right now,” he said. “I’m just up there looking for a strike or pitch to hit.”
Tulane hosts Southeastern Louisiana on Tuesday before opening a three-game series at UAB on Friday.