After winning in walk-off fashion against Tulane three times in the last four years at Maestri Field, UNO used a slightly different method on Tuesday night.
The Privateers walked and walked and walked their way to victory, beating the Green Wave 15-10 to clinch the Pelican Cup for the second consecutive year.
UNO (18-19) barely had to take the bat off its shoulder in the first inning. Tulane starter Connor Pellerin walked four of the seven players he faced, including two with the bases loaded before being yanked.
Reliever Ross Massey, appearing for only the second time this season, walked in another run, threw a wild pitch and issued another free pass before exiting in favor of freshman Landon Boeneke.
When Boeneke finally got the ball over the plate, leadoff hitter Collin Morrill, who had singled and scored to start the inning, greeted him with a grand slam to left centerfield.
Just like that, UNO, which scored seven runs total in three games over the weekend at McNeese State, led 8-0.
“We like these bigger games against bigger schools,” Morrill said. “We come out loose, ready to rock and roll. We got to be able to carry that over into the weekend. We love beating good teams. We have to carry it over.”
Tulane (25-12). one of the highest scoring teams in the nation, tied it at 9 with a seven-run fifth inning, but that respite was short-lived.
The Privateers responded with four runs in the bottom of the fifth, getting three walks, two wild pitches and a plunked batter before their first hit. They made that one count, though. Luther Woullard doubled down the right field line with the bases loaded, driving in three runs to make the score 13-9.
This time, the Wave had no answer.
Despite outhitting UNO 11-8, the difference was 12 walks, two hit batsmen and three wild pitches.
“I don’t know how mathematically that works—15 runs on eight hits,” Tulane coach Travis Jewett said. “It (control problems) rears its ugly head. We tie that thing up and that’s our game to be had.”
UNO padded its lead without a walk in the sixth, getting a solo home run from Tresten Kennard and another run after back-to-back singles.
“We know they’re a very offensive team, and my opinion the best offensive team I’ve seen all year,” UNO coach Blake Dean said. “They walked a lot of guys and it gave us a lot of free opportunities.”
Tulane used 11 pitchers, including senior outfielder Tyler Heinrichs, who made his first career mound appearance in the ninth as the Wave ran out of arms. The plan was for Pellerin to go at least two innings, but he left after two outs, putting Jewett into scramble mode.
“He didn’t bring anything to the table today,” Jewett said. “I’m a little bit worried about him. We needed him to give us two innings, not any more than that. That forced me to bring in Massey in a situation I didn’t want to. I didn’t have any inclination to bring him in with the bases loaded, but my hand was forced a little bit.”
Only one of Tulane’s first eight pitchers avoided trouble. Josh Bates, appearing for the first time since a one-inning stint two weeks ago at UNO, did not allow a hit or walk anyone in 2 1/3 innings (he did hit a batter) after coming in during the second.
But he did not stay in after the Wave tied the score. Ryan Green (0-1) replacing him to start the bottom of the fifth, and Tulane’s control problems returned.
“Bates was OK,” Jewett said. “For his confidence, we tried to get him a short dose of success and get him out here so he can gain a little more belief in himself, which is what he needs right now. We were having a little bit of an audition because as we go forward, if we want to do what we want to do, which is win (the American Athletic Conference), some of the guys you saw tonight have got to be present. They weren’t tonight.”
While UNO headed to a bus for a 12-hour overnight trip to Missouri for a three-game series against Missouri State that starts Thursday, Tulane will try to clear its head before traveling to Memphis for an AAC series that also begins Thursday. The Wave, which trails front-runner East Carolina by one game, had won six in a row and had not lost by more than one run since March 16 against Cal-Riverside.
“This was a spoiled opportunity,” Jewett said. “Any time you score 10 runs and lose by 5, it’s pretty disheartening.”
The Privateers are 5-0 at Maestri Field against the Wave under Dean, breaking the school record of four home wins in a row set from 1985 to 1987.
UNO has won four of five overall in the series since the Pelican Cup trophy was revived in 2018 between the two schools. The Privateers won the first two games last season to take the cup and have won the first two this year to retain it.
“It’s always nice to have something more to play for than just your average Tuesday game,” Dean said. “Our guys brought some energy and they played well.”