It was a rough weekend in the Big Easy for the baseball team, as the winless Bears (0-7) were swept in a three-game away series against Tulane (14-6). The first game was the closest of the weekend as the Green Wave prevailed in the bottom of the ninth, but Bruno was outscored 34-8 in lopsided defeats in the final two games of the series.
The Bears scored early in game one when right fielder Will Marcal '15 hit a solo home run to start the second inning and tie the game 1-1. Bruno added four more runs before the sixth inning on RBI singles from first baseman Cody Slaughter '13 and designated hitter Mike DiBiase '12, as well as RBI groundouts from left fielder Matt DeRenzi '14 and Marcal, to take a 5-1 lead.
But Tulane answered with five runs in the sixth inning and, after two scoreless frames, the Bears found themselves trailing 6-5 in the ninth inning. Down to their last out, Bruno loaded the bases and Marcal came through. Just two strikes away from defeat, the first-year hit a two-run single to give Bruno a 7-6 lead. But the lead did not last. In the bottom of the frame, Tulane tied the game with an RBI single before a bases-loaded walk gave the Green Wave an 8-7 victory.
Head Coach Marek Drabinski said it was "an unbelievable game" despite some poor umpiring. Drabinski said both teams' coaches agreed that the home plate umpire made a number of questionable calls on balls and strikes. After reviewing video from the game, Drabinski estimated that the umpire got "probably 40" pitch calls wrong.
Bruno got on the board early again in game two as Slaughter drove in center fielder John Sheridan '13 in the first inning. But Tulane responded with a 10-run onslaught in the bottom of the first to bust the game open in the early going. The Bears scored again on Sheridan's fifth-inning solo home run but could not keep up with the Green Wave, who won 20-2.
The Bears started strong in game three, scoring five runs in the first inning. Slaughter's RBI single put Bruno on the board before catcher Wes Van Boom's '14 grand slam cleared the bases for a 5-0 lead. Tulane starting pitcher Alex Massey exited the game without recording an out.
But the Green Wave rallied and took the lead in the third inning 10-5. The Bears scored again when second baseman J.J. Franco '14 drove in a run in the fourth inning, but Tulane pitching kept Bruno's bats quiet the rest of the way and the Bears fell 14-6.
"Saturday and Sunday were just bad games," Drabinski said. "We just got very bad pitching."
Despite being swept in the series, Drabinski said he was pleased with his team's hitting. "I thought we swung the bats very well the whole weekend," he said, calling the series "a complete reversal" from the team's set against Florida International University March 2-4. In that series, Drabinski said he was happy with the Bears' pitching, but the offense failed to provide enough run support, averaging less than four runs a game.
Drabinski said he is making progress in setting his lineup for the conference season. Before the Bears' first game, he had identified left field and right field as the two biggest non-pitching position battles, but DeRenzi and Marcal have likely earned the starting jobs as corner outfielders, he said.
The starting rotation is still unknown. Drabinski said Heath Mayo '13 and Marcal have earned spots in the Bears' conference rotation, but there are still five pitchers vying for the two remaining spots.
Drabinski said the mood of the team is still positive after the rough weekend, and the locker room is not discouraged about the slow start. "Everybody on the team knows ... we have a pretty good chance of being good," he said.
The Bears will host the University of Maine Thursday before embarking on a lengthy road trip over spring break. Bruno will fly to the West Coast to take on Pacific University, Santa Clara University and San Jose State University before kicking off its conference schedule with Ivy doubleheaders at Penn March 31 and Columbia April 1.