The hitting has stopped for Tulane. On Friday night, so did the winning.
Justin Jacobs broke a scoreless tie with a two-run single up the middle off Ian Gibaut in the top of the ninth inning as Gonzaga beat the Green Wave 2-0 at Turchin Stadium in the first of a three-game series.
Tulane (11-3), which entered the D1Baseball.com poll at No. 25 earlier this week, finished with three hits after having only four in two of its previous three games. The team batting average has dropped 36 percentage points to .257 since last Friday, and this also marked the first time the Wave has been shut out.
“There’s always a concern,” Tulane coach David Pierce said. “You just want to have quality at-bats and you just have to find ways to get 90 feet and you have to find ways to score. We’ll be fine. We just have to take a deep breath and be ready to go tomorrow.”
Neither team mounted much of a threat until Gonzaga (6-7) finally broke through. Tulane starter Corey Merrill (1-1) hit a batter with one out, then was slow to cover on a grounder to first baseman Garrett Deschamp as Bulldogs leftfielder Sam Brown barely beat him to the bag.
“It was pretty close,” Merrill said. “I honestly think he had it.”
Gibaut, Tulane’s ace reliever, replaced Merrill, and the runners advanced to second and third on a ground ball before Jacobs delivered the game-winner on an 0-1 count.
“It wasn’t a bad pitch,” Gibaut said. “It was a good piece of hitting. There’s not much you can do about it now.”
Tulane put runners on second and third with two outs in the bottom of the inning, providing hope that it could win for the fifth time this year after trailing in the ninth. But Gonzaga reliever David Bigelow struck out catcher Jake Rogers swinging to end the game.
“He struck me out on a curveball,” Rogers said. “I was expecting it, but he made a quality pitch. I’ve got to tip my cap to him.”
Tulane missed its best opportunity to score in the fourth.
Stephen Alemais reached on an error, advanced to second on a sacrifice from Garrett Deschamp and stole third. Gonzaga got out of the inning on a strikeout/throwout, nailing Hunter Hope as he tried to steal second after Hunter Williams swung and missed at a pitch out of the strike zone.
“It was a straight steal at second,” Pierce said. “Hunter Williams knows if he takes it right there, we score a run. If he doesn’t, just make contact and stay out of a double play. It just didn’t work out.”
Only one Gonzaga runner reached second base until the ninth but Tulane could not take advantage.
Merrill is used to pitching without run support. He went 42.2 innings without his teammates scoring dating to last season before notching his first career win in an 8-2 victory against Creighton last Friday.
Gonzaga starter Brandon Bailey (3-1) faced only two batters more than the minimum through six innings and carried a no-hitter into the seventh before Lex Kaplan hit a two-out line drive down the line that bounced off third baseman Mitchell Gunsolus’s glove, hit the umpire and stopped dead.
Tulane struck out 12 times overall. Nights like this were a frequent occurrence last season, when the Wave hit .226.
“None of us are worried,” Rogers said. “We are going to come out every day and swing hard. They are going to start falling.”