MALIBU, Calif. — A huge sixth inning propelled Tulane to a 9-3 victory over Pepperdine in Friday night’s season opener at Eddy D. Field Stadium, making David Pierce a winner in his first game as the Green Wave coach.
Trailing 2-0, Tulane came to life in the top of the sixth. Hunter Hope and Tim Yandel homered, while Stephen Alemais and Garrett Deschamp added RBI hits of their own to give the Wave a 6-2 lead.
Sophomore pitcher Eric Steel tossed 4.2 innings in relief, striking out four and allowing just one hit after he took over for sophomore starter Corey Merrill, who tossed 3.1 innings.
Steel (1-0), who missed all of last season in junior college because an injury, put on a show against Pepperdine in the middle innings after the Waves came out of the gates hot behind their starting pitcher, A.J. Puckett.
Puckett (0-1) had an early two-run lead but fell apart in that pivotal sixth inning when Tulane picked up five of its 13 hits.
Jake Rogers added a sacrifice fly in the top of the seventh, and Grant Brown launched his first career home run, a two-run shot, in the top of the ninth to put Tulane ahead 9-2. Pepperdine managed one run in the bottom half of the frame before junior Emerson Gibbs closed the door
“I thought we were a little tentative early on and we had some bad breaks early, but we were able to overcome those, which is a great sign,” Pierce said. “We have to attack the strike zone with our starting pitcher a little better, but overall, this was just an outstanding job of playing the entire game. We got bunts down and we got clutch hits when we needed them. We’ll take those three home runs, as well.”
Alemais and Rogers had three-hit games, while Hope, Brown and Yandel all had multi-hit games, as well — including their first career homers.
Friday’s opener marked the first time Tulane homered three times in a single game since May 4, 2012, when the Wave defeated Southern Miss.
Tulane and Pepperdine resume their series at 3 p.m. Saturday. Junior right-hander Alex Massey (3-4, 5.79) will take the mound for the Green Wave against Pepperdine right-hander Jackson McClelland (8-3, 3.48).