Braden Olthoff gave the Tulane baseball team an excellent chance to win all nine of its appearances in two seasons.
Even so, it wasn’t until his first defeat on the hill last weekend that he felt completely comfortable this season. The Green Wave (9-10) must absolutely beat the Grand Canyon (9-11-1) on Friday to stop the rotting of a three-game sweep by Louisiana Tech.
Olthoff hit a season high of 11 in seven innings, allowed four singles and was unlucky enough to give up two runs in the 2-0 loss to the Bulldogs.
“I felt like the old me,” he said. “Hopefully I can hold out for the rest of the year. I would say this is definitely the best I have felt. I really worked on my slider and tried to make it a more competitive pitch this year. Tonight I could find it where I wanted. “
Olthoff is hunting for perfection and has had a shortened year in which he won all four starts with a microscopic ERA of 0.32. His numbers (2-1, 2.57 ERA) aren’t that absurd this time around with five starts, but he still has 37 strikeouts with just seven walks and has yet to give up a home run at Tulane.
The only thing he really regretted against Louisiana Tech was a four-pitch walk – the third of his Tulane career – in an inning that didn’t produce a run. He just didn’t get any support. The Wave hit Louisiana Tech’s Jonathan Fincher.
“We let him down,” said coach Travis Jewett. “We just had a high profile college matchup on Friday night. It was quick and strikes. I think I was in bed maybe nine o’clock. “
Tulane’s bats slept in consecutive shutout losses to start this series, but it was an unusual disappearance. Earlier this year, the Mississippi State Wave scored seven, five and four runs for a total of 16. The Bulldogs, who rank second nationwide in the ERA, have retired more than three runs in just three of their other 18 games. Nobody else has scored more than 12 in a series against them. LSU produced nine at the Alex Box Stadium last weekend.
Tulane has 26 runs in a row at Troy. None of the Trojans’ other weekend opponents, including Southeastern Louisiana, had more than 20.
The Wave scored 18 runs against UL (maximum allowed: 20) and Western Kentucky (maximum allowed: 22) in the weekend series and got decent in both series.
The outlier was what happened against Louisiana Tech, which dominated the first two games on the hill, despite only recording four and six strikeouts. Tulane recovered for six runs in the finals, striking five times.
“That means we’re capable,” said Jewett. “It gives us hope and spirit, and despite the lack of offensive success, we haven’t hit a ton. We bring the ball into play. “
Tulane’s biggest problem is what happens when opponents bring runners to the base. The wave kicked out only three out of 30 base thefts, and one of them came when Louisiana Tech’s Adarius Myers walked past the second base after successfully knocking a litter off the first base after attempting a pickup.
It’s not just a catcher problem. Jewett wants his pitchers to hold runners better and be less predictable in their delivery.
“If the rhythm on the plate is the same and our leg-heights are high, Johnny Bench doesn’t stand a chance,” he said. “We have to work together. It’s a combination of both. “
The catchers aren’t just the only ones struggling with throws. Centerfielder Jared Hart’s three assists are the team’s only outfield assists, and two of his assists came on the opening weekend.
Jewett said he was less concerned about the statistic, saying his outfield players had capable weapons.
“You can go through your college career and hardly have any field assistants,” he said. “Of course there are opportunities here or there, but when you rate outfielders, their arm strength isn’t as great as their defense, running and hitting.”
Grand Canyon, a Phoenix-based university in the Western Athletic Conference, won three out of four from Missouri to start the year, going 0-2-1 in its only street games against 13th place Oklahoma State and 0-4 at home against the 20th. -ranked Oregon State. … said Jewett Tyler Hoffman, who would have started against LSU on Tuesday if the game hadn’t rained, will be relieved as he prepares for a starting role on the weekend when the conference game kicks off in April. … Jack Aldrich (1-1, 4.06) will be promoted for his start on Saturday, Trent Johnson (1-2 7.04) will line up on Sunday. … third baseman Trevor Minder (Wrist Injury) is absent this weekend and at least during Tuesday’s midweek game against Jackson State.
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