Despite facing an early deficit, the Tulane baseball team kicked off the 2020 season with a 4-3 come-from-behind win over Florida Gulf Coast on a cold and windy Friday night at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.
With the game even at three in the bottom of the fifth inning, junior catcher Haydan Hastings laced a single to center field to drive in redshirt senior Luke Glancy to give Tulane (1-0) a 4-3 lead over Florida Gulf Coast (0-1). The visitors were on the board first, but the Green Wave never lost hope.
“The balloon didn’t get popped,” head coach Travis Jewett said. “The belief is still there. It’s a long game, we just keep trying to keep committing to first base and put pressure on them and hopefully something will crack and break and we get a couple dinks and dunks.”
Tulane pitchers struck out 16 batters, redshirt senior Ty Johnson had three hits and senior first baseman Grant Mathews had two more as the Green Wave rode stellar pitching to an opening day victory.
Junior starting pitcher Braden Olthoff (1-0) hurled six strong innings, striking out 10 without walking a batter to claim the win. Olthoff surrendered just six hits, and all three runs came in the fourth inning. Tulane’s right-handed debutant received the “golden K” for his efforts. Olthoff knew his team would support him after he gave up three runs in the fourth inning.
“I knew that I needed to keep it there,” Olthoff said. “I knew that we have a really good hitting team and we would eventually get the bats going. And I knew we have a really good bullpen.”
Senior right hander Mason Studstill started on the mound for FGCU, allowing two runs and walking four over 4.1 innings. Junior Tyler Shuck (0-1) took the loss after he threw 3.2 innings while conceding just one run. Senior Alex Brait collected two hits, the only FGCU player with multiple hits.
Trailing 3-0 heading into the fifth inning, Tulane’s offense came to life. Johnson doubled with one out, followed by walks to sophomores Collin Burns and Hudson Haskin to load the bases. Grant Mathews slashed a perfectly-placed single between right and center field, scoring the Green Wave’s first run while keeping the bases loaded.
Junior designated hitter Frankie Niemann followed with a bloop single of his own, dropping the ball just inside the right field foul line to drive in Tulane’s second run. Redshirt senior Jonathon Artigues tied the game, 3-3, with a ground out to third base.
After allowing consecutive hard hits to begin the sixth inning, Olthoff struck out the next three hitters to escape danger. Riding high off the back of Olthoff’s heroics, the Green Wave jumped in front in the sixth inning. Glancy laced a sinking line drive that skipped by the FGCU right fielder for a triple to lead off the inning. Hastings wasted no time, smashing the next pitch up the middle to drive in Glancy to take a 4-3 lead.
Junior pitchers Clifton Slagel and Connor Pellerin combined to strike out the side in the seventh inning, before Pellerin found himself in trouble in the eighth. After hitting the first two batters, Pellerin was relieved by senior Keagan Gillies (1). A perfect bunt loaded the bases with nobody out. Gillies responded by striking out the next batter, and inducing a line drive double play to end the inning unscathed.
Gillies remained in the game for the ninth inning, never wavering as he closed the door on his first career save with his third strikeout.
“I told Coach Jewett I’d do anything for the team, whatever we need to win,” Gillies said.
Tulane looks to take the series with game two on tap for Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.
Tulane sports information contributed to this story.