Searching for answers on the mound, Tulane will turn to freshman Krishna Raj for Tuesday night’s suddenly pivotal game against McNeese State at Turchin Stadium.
Coach Travis Jewett stressed the positives vibes created during the first 13 games rather than dwelling on the troubling home sweep at the hands of UC Santa Barbara over the weekend. The Green Wave, coming off back-to-back losing records in Jewett’s first two years, is 10-6.
“They say tough times don’t last but tough people do,” he said. “We have enough tough kids that we’ve just got to make sure the foundation we have going, which is a good one, doesn’t fracture. We just have to stay together. This can’t be a pitcher versus a hitter or anything like that.
“We’re not 2-14. Let’s not lose sight of that. We’re one win away from being on a 2-for-3 pace. If you do that throughout the entire season, you are going to play in the postseason. We just have to figure some stuff out.”
Tulane’s seven home runs and 17 runs against the Gauchos resulted in zero victories because none of the starting pitchers made it through the fourth inning, combining to give up 12 runs in eight innings while allowing 15 hits, walking nine and plunking three batters.
The relievers struggled, too, surrendering 19 runs in 19 innings. Raj, who replaced Kaleb Roper in Friday’s opener, gave up four hits, walked four and hit two batters in four innings, but he also struck out seven and allowed only two runs despite the plethora of base-runners.
In his first three appearances, he pitched 8⅔ innings while giving up one hit and zero earned runs. In his past two, the hit total ballooned to seven in 5⅓ innings.
“Hopefully he’ll give us a good start,” Jewett said. “He needs to give us a chance to hang in the game with a good McNeese team.”
The Wave has hung some good offensive numbers on the board all year. It enters Tuesday’s game with an batting average of .316, and its 25 home runs are tied for the fourth-most nationally. Third baseman Kody Hoese’s eight homers also are tied for fourth-best.
“We have something special,” said Grant Mathews, who hit one of the Wave’s four home runs in the finale against UCSB. “There’s peaks and there’s pits in every season. That’s just life. We know we are going to come back strong.”
McNeese State (10-6), picked fifth in the 13-team Southland Conference preseason poll, opened its league schedule by winning two of three at Louisiana-Monroe over the weekend. The Cowboys have had pitching problems of their own, allowing 10 or more runs five times, but they own a victory against Houston of the American Athletic Conference.
The team that handles adversity better will have the clear advantage.
“We can’t leave our frustrations at the freebies on the field,” Jewett said. “We talk all the time about playing just one pitch at a time.”