Coming off his first win of the season last week, Tulane senior right-hander Kaleb Roper had hoped to get on a roll.
Friday night's series opener against UC Santa Barbara simply didn't go the way he wanted it to.
Roper didn't make it out of the fourth inning, and the Gauchos ended a late Green Wave rally to win 7-4 at Turchin Stadium.
On this night, the opposing starter, UCSB left-hander Ben Brecht, stole the show.
A 6-foot-7 highly touted left-hander from Illinois, Brecht allowed two runs on three hits and fired a season-high 11 strikeouts in 7⅓ shutout innings.
At one point, Brecht retired 17 straight batters.
“Sometimes you have to give the opponent credit,” Tulane coach Travis Jewett said. “And I told the kids that after the game. (Brecht) pitched great. At some point in the game, you’ve got to realize what he’s trying to do.”
Brecht allowed a pair of hits in the first two innings but settled in from there, putting away 17 straight.
“I thought that (he) did a good job of throwing the fastball right at about the hands of our hitters,” Jewett said. “He was just able to use the fastballs basically all night long, and we just couldn’t make any kinds of adjustments to it.”
Roper started off strong with a strikeout to lead off the game, and he got out of the first inning when Tulane (10-4) turned a double play.
He allowed his first hit in the third inning when Gauchos senior left fielder Tevin Mitchell singled to lead off.
Tommy Jew, who went 3-for-6, doubled down the left-field line on the next play. Andrew Martinez brought home Mitchell with a sacrifice fly, and Armani Smith later hit a two-run single up the middle, putting USCB up 3-0.
Roper was pulled in the fourth inning, during which USCB added two more runs. Roper lasted 3.2 innings, allowing five runs on seven hits with six strikeouts.
Jewett said while Roper was on the mound, he saw the umpire call several borderline pitches as strikes.
“Once that happens, we’ve got to figure what he is calling a strike and go and attack it,” Jewett said.
That could've been beneficial in a game with two powerful lineups.
Prior to the series, Tulane had the seventh-best batting average in the nation with a .332, while UCSB was 24th in the nation with 13 home runs.
But while UCSB (9-2) exploded for five runs and seven hits in the first four innings, the Green Wave offense managed just five hits for the entire game.
Tulane came alive in the eighth.
Junior second baseman Jonathon Artigues reached base in the eighth inning with a walk. It was the first time since the second inning that a Tulane batter reached base.
Moments later, senior catcher Acy Owen blasted a two-run homer to put the Green Wave on the board.
Junior third baseman Kody Hoese added a two-run homer of his own later in the inning to cut the Gauchos’ lead to three. It was his seventh home run of the season.
“We’ve just got to quit giving them away free stuff,” Hoese said. “We had a lot of walks and hit-by-pitches. If we limit that, we’ll come out tomorrow and win.”
The Green Wave will also go against sophomore left-hander Jack Dashwood when the teams meet again at 2 p.m. Saturday.