There was no shortage of tension in the closing moments of Tuesday night’s game at Turchin Stadium.
Facing a bases-loaded jam and clinging to a one-run lead with one out in the ninth inning, Tulane needed to make a daring escape to avoid being swept by Southeastern Louisiana this season.
Closer Ian Gibaut found the hatch, inducing Andrew Godbold into a ground ball to second base, which the Green Wave turned into a game-ending double play, putting a dramatic touch on a 3-2 victory.
It was the kind of finish that eluded the Green Wave (21-25) for most of the season, but has turned its way in recent weeks.
The win was Tulane’s sixth victory in its past eight games, helping it surge out of its greatest depths, sitting eight games under .500 less than three weeks ago.
“We know we have lost a lot of one-run ballgames this year, but I have seen these guys grow up since the first game of the year,” interim coach Jake Gautreau said. “It’s almost mind-boggling. From the team aspect to the individual aspect, they have definitely grown up a lot.
“I’ve been saying for a long time that these guys can really play, and we knew that. We also knew we weren’t playing that way for a while, more offensively than anything. But I think you’re starting to see a group come together and play some very confident baseball.”
Even when things went awry against the Lions (29-21), Tulane displayed its poise. Just two batters before Godbold’s double play, the Green Wave infield made a critical mental mistake, allowing a sacrifice bunt to turn into an infield single when second baseman Garrett Deschamp forgot to cover first base.
The additional base runner forced Tulane to walk Fisher, loading the bases. That’s when Deschamp redeemed himself by flipping the first half of the double play to Stephen Alemais at second, who leapt over Fisher to get a clean throw off and finish off Southeastern.
“It gave me an opportunity (for redemption),” Deschamp said. “Thank God I took advantage of it. It helped the team get a win.”
Tulane wasted no time jumping out front, immediately taking advantage of Stephen Alemais’ leadoff single in the first inning. He stole second before Deschamp’s run-scoring line drive double into the right-center-field gap.
An inning later, Tulane waited a bit longer to produce its offense, generating a two-out rally from the bottom of its order. Tim Yandel started things by punching his first hit of the season into left field. That was followed by Richard Carthon’s infield single down the third-base line, setting up Alemais’ two-run triple over an outstretched Kyle Cedotal in left field.
After cruising through the first three innings, retiring nine of his first 10 batters faced, starting pitcher Alex Massey worked himself into trouble in the fourth. The sophomore surrendered a leadoff single to Jameson Fisher, then moved him to second on a balk before eventually allowing him to score on a wild pitch, shaving Tulane’s lead to 3-1.
A pair of hits, including a double by Daniel Midyett, off of reliever J.P. France allowed Southeastern to shave the lead even further when Sam Roberson came in to score on an RBI ground out in the sixth.
But even after Tulane’s bats were silenced by the Gage Pickett out of the Southeastern bullpen, the Green Wave was able to hang on.
The Wave tries to carry momentum into the final two weeks of the Conference USA schedule, hoping to climb four games in the standings so it can reach the final spot in the league tournament.
“I think we are really coming together, and it’s really something special,” Alemais said. “It’s too bad it didn’t happen at the beginning of the year. But it’s never too late, and the way we are coming together right now is going to last awhile. It’s just really special, and everyone is having fun and being really aggressive.”