Tulane’s game against Pepperdine on Saturday could not have started any worse.
The next 2½ hours were pretty much perfect.
Rolling for the second straight day, the Green Wave won 15-0 at Turchin Stadium after starting pitcher Alex Massey twisted an ankle covering first on the opening play and star shortstop Stephen Alemais hurt his shoulder when he slid to beat out a bunt leading off the bottom half of the inning.
“First base was cursed,” Tulane coach David Pierce said.
Massey shook off his injury and pitched seven scoreless innings, holding Pepperdine hitless until there were two outs in the fifth.
Tulane starters have not allowed a run in six straight games.
Alemais, who could not move his left shoulder when he left the field for treatment, returned to the dugout soon afterward. He watched his replacement, freshman Cade Edwards, go 2 for 4 with three RBIs as the Wave scored in double figures in back-to-back games of a series at Turchin Stadium for the first time since 2012 against Brown.
Tulane (6-4) has overwhelmed Pepperdine (3-7) 26-0 through two games, putting a three-game losing streak in the rearview mirror.
“I’ve never had back-to-back high-scoring shutouts like this,” Pierce said. “Usually you have a blowout and then the next game is a one-run game. It’s a tribute to our guys getting ready to play, and hopefully they’re ready to go again tomorrow, because Pepperdine will be.”
Whether Alemais will be available is unclear. He increased his batting average to .462 on what turned out to be an ill-advised dive into the bag, then came up in obvious pain with a lame shoulder.
“We don’t know yet.” Pierce said. “It’s kind of day-to-day, and we’ll start treating it from there. Hopefully its nothing serious and he can get back out there, but it’s nice to have a good team with guys who are prepared to go out and help the team win.”
Edwards, whose only two appearances had been as a pinch runner and a late-inning replacement, did a fair Alemais impression the rest of the way. In addition to his hits, he fielded three balls flawlessly and turned a double play after snagging a line drive.
“You definitely have some butterflies in your stomach, but you always have to be ready at the moment,” Edwards said. “I got in and did what I needed to do. That first hit really helped me relax.”
Just about everyone got into the act. Senior Matt Braud, a Jesuit graduate with four career at-bats, had his first RBI with a pinch-hit sacrifice fly as Pierce emptied the bench in the latter innings. Freshman Matt Rowland doubled in his first run.
Among the starters, designated hitter Jeremy Montalbano tripled and doubled for two of the Wave’s eight extra-base hits. Third baseman Hunter Hope, hitting .222 before the day, went 3 for 4 with three runs scored and two RBIs.
Tulane, which entered the series hitting .289, raised its average 20 percentage points to .309. The Wave had a season-high 18 hits on Saturday, tagging Pepperdine starter Kiko Garcia (1-2) for 11 runs in 5.1 innings.
“We were just going out there seeing the ball well, getting our pitch and hitting it,” Montalbano said. “We got the team together (before the weekend) and said we need to get a little intensity and energy out there. We’ve done that so far.”
Massey (2-1) cruised after his initial scare, pitching with a lead from the third inning. He struck out seven, walked only two and did not allow a runner past first through five innings.
When Pepperdine began the sixth with back-to-back singles, he preserved the starters’ scoreless streak by getting three outs in a row.
“I felt really good,” he said. “Coach had been preaching all week to establish the fastball down in the zone, then just let everything else work off of that. Another thing he’s been talking about is focusing — really lock into one spot, set your grip and throw it. I bought into that and did the job.”
So did all of his teammates. Eleven players had at least one hit and 10 scored.
“The strength of our team is the team itself,” Pierce said.” These guys are a group that really works well together.”