One pitching implosion was not enough for Tulane on Wednesday night.
The Green Wave melted down on the mound twice, blowing a pair of sizable leads as Southeastern Louisiana rallied to win 13-12 in a mistake-filled, sloppy game at Turchin Stadium.
Tulane (6-7) which had lost late advantages twice in the last four days against Cal State Fullerton and UNO, appeared to have gotten its pitching struggles out of the way early enough to beat the Lions (9-5).
Pinch runner Tyler Heinrichs scored the go-ahead run in the seventh inning when Southeastern Louisiana catcher Daniel Wasinger dropped a bouncing throw that beat Heinrichs to the plate, and the Green Wave erased an 8-5 deficit to go ahead 11-8.
Even that was not enough.
After center fielder Grant Witherspoon dropped a routine fly ball to start the eighth, Southeastern scored five times on only two hits as four pitchers struggled to get outs-Ben White, Ross Massey, Trent Johnson and Sam Bjorngjeld.
The Lions scored the tying run on a bases-loaded walk, went ahead on a hit batsman and added an insurance run on another walk, one of nine Tulane's pitchers issued.
Johnson (1-1) took the loss, failing to retire the two batters he faced.
"The freebies again, it's very frustrating," coach Travis Jewett said. "I don't really have to say too much about it. It's kind of the elephant in the room now."
It was a rough night for both teams. They combined for six errors that resulted in 10 unearned runs.
"That's probably one of the ugliest games you are going to see," Southeastern coach Matt Riser said. "The good part about it is we got the win. There are a lot of things we have to learn, but we didn't wait to lose to learn from it."
This one had four massive momentum swings and was in doubt until the final pitch. Trailing 13-11 with two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth, Tulane's drew two walks and Ty Johnson singled in Jonathon Artigues, putting Witherspoon at third base representing the tying run.
But Southeastern's Carlisle Kesler came in and coaxed a high fly to center from Grant Mathews, finally ending the three-hour-and-37-minute slop-fest while earning his first save.
Freshman Trey Shaffer (1-0) picked up the win with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.
"We have to clean things up," said Riser, lamenting the Lions' four errors. "We have been atrocious this last week and a half defensively, and now it's just mental."
The same description fits Tulane on the mound.
Starting pitcher Chase Solesky retired seven in a row and cruised into the fifth inning with a 5-1 lead before eight consecutive Southeastern batters reached base -five off of Solesky and three off of White.
"I wish I had the answer," Jewett said. "He (Solesky) looked like he was going to run it into the seventh. I don't know if he was just missing his pitches on the big part of the plate. I haven't seen the video of it, but it just got away from him."
The eruption gave the Lions, who batted around in the fifth and the eighth, an 8-5 lead they did not hold for long.
The Wave tied it with three runs in the sixth thanks to three clutch hits and a costly error by the Lions. When shortstop Brennan Breaud fielded an easy grounder with two outs and the bases loaded, he looked to flip to second base for the force-out, changed his mind and airmailed his throw about five feet over the head of first baseman Taylor Schwaner, allowing two runs to score.
Tulane took the lead in the seventh, tacked on another run on a wild pitch that Artigues swung at, striking out, and scored a third on Ty Johnson's single-the Wave's 13th hit of the night.
Tulane outhit Southeastern 14-7, made half as many errors (two compared to four) and still lost.
Nothing was more inexplicable than Witherspoon's drop.
"I make that catch in my sleep, but I didn't make it that time," he said. "It happens. It's not going to affect me. I'm a pretty good outfielder. I feel bad I let down the team, but I'll be there for them the next time."
In contrast, the pitchers' control issues have become predictable.
"Sometimes this game doesn't always treat your fairly," Jewett said. "Right now we're kind of getting punched all over the body, and we have to stay on our feet. It's a long season ahead. We just have to figure this thing out here in the next couple weeks and get going."
They may have to do it without first baseman Trevor Jensen, who pulled up with a hamstring injury as he prepared to round third base and come home on a Matt Rowland double in the sixth. He had to leave in favor of Heinrichs.
Jewett said Jensen was not feeling good. Then again, no one in the Wave dugout was.
"I tell the kids all the time, if you keep doing what you're doing, you're going to keep getting what you're getting," Jewett said. "Right now I don't like the taste of it, and I know they don't either."