Harkening back to the heyday of their rivalry, the Tulane and UNO baseball teams are bringing back the Pelican Cup this season.
The first game will be 6:30 Tuesday night at Maestri Field on Cox Sports TV, with two meetings in April at Turchin Stadium. Following the final game on April 10, the Pelican Cup trophy will be awarded to the winner of the season series, and a most valuable player will be selected, too.
"It will be pretty cool," UNO coach Blake Dean said. "This year we'll go there twice and then next year they'll come here twice. It's something we'd like to continue doing. Hopefully it will create a little in-town rivalry where fans will come out and it will continue to grow."
That was an every-year occurrence in the 1980s, when the two teams packed their stadiums for intense Pelican Cup matchups and even played in the same regionals hosted by UNO in 1982 and 1987 during a period when the Privateers became the first team from Louisiana to reach the College World Series (1984).
They continued to play three times almost every year until 2014, when UNO's aborted decision to move to a lower level of athletics in 2010 crushed its competitiveness.
The past two years, though, UNO has beaten Tulane at Maestri Field, coinciding with Dean's hiring.
The Wave will throw freshman Josh Bates (1-0, 0.00), who allowed zero hits to Lamar last Tuesday in his first career start.
The Privateers will use left-handed senior John Michael Stephens (0-1, 4.35 ERA), who pitched six innings in a 9-7 loss to Southern Miss last Tuesday, allowing seven hits and four earned runs.
Both teams are coming off weekend home series losses. The Wave (6-5) dropped two of three to Cal State Fullerton, and the Privateers (5-7) dropped two of three to Arkansas State. The difference: UNO won its opener while Tulane salvaged its finale, impressing Cal State Fullerton coach Rick Vanderhook.
"That team's going to play in June (in a regional), at least in my eyes," said Vanderhook, who has taken the Titans to the College World Series in two of the past three years. "They are physical. They are strong. They hit the ball with authority and can really bust the gaps as well."
Tulane coach Travis Jewett accepted the compliment.
"I like our physicalness," he said. "You look up and down our lineup, and there are some athletes and some strength and some guys who can run. Our offense is showing lots of life."
Tulane is in the middle of an 18-game, 24-day stretch that includes three straight weeks with five games. After sweeping Horizon League favorite Wright State to open the season, the Wave was swept at Ole Miss and won two in a row from Lamar before facing Fullerton.
Southeastern Louisiana comes to Turchin Stadium on Wednesday.
"Our schedule is tough," Jewett said. "We're going to be weathered and leathered. We're going to look back on games like this and atmospheres like Ole Miss and quality competition like Wright State and use it as an advantage."
The Privateers are in transition after losing plenty of veteran hitters from 2017, but Dean expects rapid improvement coming off the school's first back-to-back winning seasons since 2006 and 2007.
"We have the same goal," he said. "We want to get to the conference tournament, and we want to get to a regional."
Tulane leads the series 80-62. … The teams will conduct a food drive for all three games in the series. Fans are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items and drop them off in donation boxes near the entrance to Maestri Field. … Sophomore shortstop Darren Willis leads UNO with a .455 batting average, more than 200 percentage points higher than the team mark of .241. … Junior center fielder Grant Witherspoon paces Tulane at .333, with the team average at .271.