The rain that wreaked havoc on Jazz Fest and the Zurich Classic of New Orleans finally cost the Tulane baseball team a game, but the wasted time did not change coach David Pierce’s sunny outlook.
The Green Wave’s Saturday night comeback from a 4-0 deficit to beat Houston and American Athletic Conference preseason co-pitcher of the year Seth Romero made it much easier to stomach the long waiting game Sunday. Both teams hung around Turchin Stadium for nearly five and a half hours after the scheduled 11 a.m. start before granting victory to Mother Nature and canceling the series finale.
Splitting a home series never felt any better.
Houston (24-17, 6-8) won the opener 10-6 and appeared on the verge of making it two in a row before Tulane (28-14, 8-5) erupted for five runs off Romero in the fifth and tacked on five more the rest of the way in a 10-4 win.
“It’s such a confidence builder when you are able to come back on such a quality pitcher,” Pierce said. “It just showed so much of a will and a drive from our team to keep playing the game, square some balls up and take the lead and add to that lead with additional runs. It was a great performance on offense and a pretty solid performance by our pitching and defense.”
Tulane will take that momentum into next weekend’s series at South Florida (21-33, 6-9) after getting the midweek off for final exams. The Wave nearly moved to the top of the standings without stepping on the field Sunday.
If Cincinnati (21-22-1, 9-5-1) had not rallied for two runs to tie East Carolina (27-16-1, 8-6-1) in the top of the eighth inning in a game shortened by curfew, Tulane would be percentage points ahead of both of them. Instead, the Wave settled for second place behind the Bearcats, slightly in front of East Carolina and Connecticut (24-19, 8-6) in a four-team race.
Tulane’s remaining series are against teams with losing conference records: at South Florida, vs. Memphis (15-30, 6-9) and at Houston.
“If you look at the way it’s bunched up with three weeks to go, it’s anybody’s game,” Pierce said. “But I definitely think we’re in a great position.”
They certainly are in better position than preseason conference favorite Houston, which faced a long bus trip back home with no chance to erase Saturday’s disappointment. Sunday’s game was delayed by lightning at first, then an hourlong deluge under black skies and intermittent lightning strikes with a steady rain for the rest of the day. With no letup in sight just before 4:30, the teams pulled the plug.
“Our conference rule is you have up until midnight, so it’s my job to make sure that we do everything possible for both teams to play,” Pierce said. “The fortunate thing is we were at home and were able to study for exams all day. The unfortunate thing is we spent all day doing nothing, but we did get caught up on some rest and some studying.”
For the second time in three seasons, Tulane has had two conference games canceled by weather. The finale of the Wave’s series against Connecticut was wiped out by snow in early April, and a pair of games were canceled in 2014. Tulane’s only other canceled conference games in the past 20 years were at Memphis in 2008 and at South Florida in 1997. … Pierce said the Wave would take Monday off but likely would have a Tuesday intrasquad game (weather-permitting) before traveling to South Florida on Thursday.