After an overnight reprieve, Tulane’s final chance to extend its season lasted 43 minutes.
Having run itself into outs three times before a 20-hour weather stoppage in the seventh inning, the Green Wave was run out of the Baton Rouge regional 10-2 on Sunday afternoon by Sam Houston State.
Trailing 7-2 with the bases loaded and two outs when the elimination game was paused because lightning at 4:07 p.m. Saturday, Tulane sent hot-hitting Simon Baumgardt to the plate upon the resumption. Already 3 for 3, he worked a 3-0 count from new pitcher Logan Hewitt before taking a strike, swinging through a pitch, fouling off another and grounding out to end the last real threat.
“I felt good,” Baumgardt said. “Obviously it was a big situation, probably one of the biggest at-bats I’ve had. I wish it would have gone a little better.”
The Bearkats padded their lead with a three-run homer to straightaway centerfield — their fourth of the game — off Michael Fowler with two outs in the eighth. By then, it was clear a phenomenal streak through the American Athletic Conference tournament would not translate into any more wins for the Green Wave (19-42), which bowed out to the third-seeded Bearkats (38-24) after losing 7-2 to LSU on Friday.
“It was apropos we had another weather delay to finish our season because we’ve had just about every single impediment known to mankind and not known to mankind show up this year,” coach Jay Uhlman said. “We believed when we got on that bus. There was never any doubt we were going to come back. I tip my hat to Sam Houston for their resolve and their toughness.”
The first defeat in Baton Rouge was about the nearly impossible task of facing the dominant LSU ace Paul Skenes, who threw a complete game.
This one was about a series of missed opportunities early. Until Brennan Lambert was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded seconds before the first lightning strike on Saturday, Tulane produced one run despite getting 12 hits and putting its leadoff runner on base six times.
Baumgardt was picked off first after singling in the second. One inning later, Jackson Linn tagged up from second on a medium-depth fly ball and was thrown out easily on a laser from right fielder Clayton Chadwick, a three-time All-State quarterback from Texas who already had 11 assists on the year.
“We were trying to be aggressive, and their right fielder made a heck of a throw to throw out one of our fastest runners,” Uhlman said. “That one didn’t bother me.”
The last one did. Teo Banks planned to go from first to third on a Brady Marget single to right field with no outs in the sixth, put the breaks on as he rounded second but tried to make it anyway because he felt he had committed. Shortstop Myles Jefferson’s relay beat him.
“Teo had to hesitate to let the ball go through, but he’s really fast,” Uhlman said. “The right fielder had to range over towards the line, so I started him out and then I didn’t use my voice (when issuing a stop sign). I used one hand and got blocked by the third baseman. There was confusion created, which was my fault.”
The three outs took away any chance of keeping pace with the Bearkats, who scored 72 runs in their last four games during the Western Athletic Conference tournament to get to Baton Rouge before losing 18-2 to Oregon State. Joe Redfield’s three-run jack into the right-field bleachers capped a four-run fourth as Sam Houston State went ahead 5-1, chasing starter Ricky Castro (4-7).
The Bearkats added runs in the fifth and sixth off reliever Chandler Welch.
Tulane failed to win a game for the first time in 17 regionals since going 0-2 at UNO in 1987. The Wave’s 12-11 advantage in hits meant nothing.
“It’s aways good to win maybe the longest regional game ever played,” Sam Houston State coach Jay Sirianni said. “It was a lot of big hits versus a lot of hits.”