UNO took back the Pelican Cup trophy in a pre-game ceremony on Tuesday night at Maestri Field.
Tulane responded by salvaging the finale of a three-game season series in which the road team won every game.
Defensive replacement catcher Seth Beckstead threw out UNO’s Anthony Herron for the final out on a stolen base attempt when Herron misread a sign from coach Blake Dean, preserving the Green Wave’s 8-6 victory after the Privateers won 6-5 and 16-4 at Turchin Stadium in March.
“That’s why he (Beckstead)'s in there at the end of the game,” Tulane coach Jay Uhlman said. “It’s to thwart those opportunities.”
This one started and ended well for Tulane (11-26), which won a midweek game for only the second time in 10 tries while snapping a four-game midweek winning streak for the Privateers (21-16). Brady Marget homered for the third time in three plate appearances against UNO starter Trey Usey, giving Tulane an immediate 2-0 lead, and Jake LaPrairie followed with another two-run shot three batters later.
After the Privateers took a 5-4 lead in the second on Kasten Furr’s three-run blast, the Wave went ahead for good by scoring three in the third, getting the tying run on a double by LaPrairie, the go-ahead run on a wild pitch and an insurance run on James Agabedis’s single.
“That was the key to the whole thing was us being able to absorb that kind of a blow and come back with our own,” Uhlman said. “That was really big.”
Tayler Montiel (1-0) threw three scoreless innings from there as both teams slowed down offensively. Still, the Wave survived a tense moment in the bottom of the eighth when Tyler Bischke ripped a screaming line drive off Colin Reilly with the bases loaded and two outs. Left fielder Brady Hebert caught just in front of the warning track.
“He hit that ball good, but you gotta have good at-bats throughout the course of the game, not just one good at-bat right there,” Dean said. “We just didn’t take good consistent at-bats.”
Gavin Smith earned his first save, giving up a one-out single to Herron and striking out Mitchell Sanford before Herron’s ill-fated stolen-base attempt. Dean, who said Herron saw him instructing batter Dylan Mach and thought the sign was for him, was surprised as anyone when he took off for second base.
Beckstead still had to make a good throw.
“I wasn’t expecting him to run,” he said. “I heard the runner call from the dugout, and Gavin gave me a good pitch to throw on. I just tried to put it on the bag.”
Marget has put one out of the park every time he has faced Usey, who gave up two early home runs to him in the teams’ last meeting at Turchin Stadium on March 29 and did not pitch again until Tuesday night because of an injury. This time, he sent one the opposite way over the wall to the left of the scoreboard for his seventh homer of the year.
“It was a fastball on the outer half,” he said. “I saw a pitch I was able to drive and I put a good swing on it. Every game I’m going into the box with the same mentality. It doesn’t matter who we’re facing or who’s on the mound, but I’ve been feeling really good lately.”
Tulane took advantage of UNO’s sloppiness to reclaim the lead. Simon Baumgardt, who walked to lead off the third, tried to advance to third when right fielder Mitchell Sanford let a routine fly from Brennan Lambert drop and would have been out easily if the throw had not hit him. After LaPrairie’s double, Lambert tried to score on a wild pitch and likely would have been out if catcher Jorje Tejada had not airmailed his throw over the head of pitcher Ryan Delorbe.
The mistakes negated Furr’s big go-ahead home run, which came on the first pitch from reliever Blake Mahmoud.
“We’re happy we took two out of three, but the third one’s going to sting for a little bit,” Furr said. “We’ve just got to be better.”
Seven Tulane pitchers limited UNO to seven hits and combined for 12 strikeouts, including six in a row at one point. Freshman Grant Cleavinger struck out the first four batters he faced.
Brennan Lambert drove in the Wave’s final run, singling off Canaan Clayton after Baumgardt led off the seventh with a double. It was the third time in the last four games Tulane scored eight or more, creating some positive vibes entering a series at Cincinnati.
“All of our hitters have been working some good at-bats,” Marget said. “We’re going to keep this going into the weekend. It always feels good to get a win and get some momentum.”