The Tulane baseball team received the command starting performance it needed in the worst way.
Taking the pressure off a bullpen that had been battered in the first eight games, Corey Merrill pitched eight shutout innings as the Green Wave snapped a three-game losing streak, routing Pepperdine 11-0 on Friday night at Turchin Stadium.
Merrill (1-0), who was shelled himself in his last appearance against Arizona, allowed only three hits, retiring the first batter he faced in every inning.
Tulane (5-4) improved to 3-0 on Fridays and returned to its opening-weekend form against Illinois, when all three starting pitchers allowed zero runs.
Pepperdine (3-6), which won a regional in 2014 and advanced deep into another one in 2015, continued to struggle at the plate after entering with a lowly .218 batting average.
Tulane’s relievers, who had given up 29 runs in 31.1 innings, had most of the night off. Coach David Pierce took no chances, keeping Merrill on the mound through the eighth inning even though the Wave led 7-0 by that point. He retired the last eight batters he faced.
The Wave scored all the runs it needed in the third inning. No. 9 hitter Grant Brown started it with a ground-rule double that rolled under the fence down the left field line. All-America candidate Stephen Alemais followed with an infield single, extending his season-long hitting streak to nine. Jake Rogers then ripped a two-RBI double into the gap in left-center field.
Pepperdine second baseman Chase Lambert handed Tulane its third run, channeling Steve Sax and Chuck Knoblauch with a ridiculously errant short throw after fielding a hard grounder hit right at him with two outs. The error allowed Rogers to score from third.
The rest of the night was the Alemais show. Two days after being credited with four errors at Southeastern Louisiana (two of them were switched a day later to first baseman Grant Witherspoon), he showed off his range and arm with at least five terrific plays at shortstop.
The most spectacular one came in the sixth, when he ranged to his right, fielded the ball on the outfield turf and made a snap throw across his body to Witherspoon. Although Witherspoon’s foot came off the bag, the first-base umpire ruled it an out.
Merrill went above 100 pitches by the seventh inning but avoided any real trouble. He issued a walk and hit a batter in the fifth, but in between Alemais started what almost turned into an incredible double play, getting a force a second before the runner barely beat the relay to first.
Pepperdine never had a runner in scoring position with less than two outs until the ninth. The Waves did not get the ball out of the infield on all three occasions someone reached second base against Merrill.
Tulane padded its lead with four runs in the seventh and four more in the eighth, teeing off on soft-tossing reliever Christian Stoutland.
Pepperdine starter A.J. Puckett (1-2) allowed four hits and struck out eight through six. Stoutland gave up seven hits and four doubles in 1.2 innings.
Richard Carthon greeted Stoutland with a single, becoming the first leadoff runner to get on base for either team. He stole second, and Rogers singled him in for his third RBI, quadrupling his total for the year.
Jeremy Montalbano matched Alemais’ nine-game hitting streak with a two-RBI double down the line to put the game away.
Rogers finished 3 for 3 with two doubles, three RBI, three runs scored and a stolen base. He reached safely in all five plate appearances.