The Tulane Green Wave played host to the defending national champions, the Mississippi State Bulldogs, on Friday night. This was Game 1 of what was supposed to be a competitive series. Mississippi State, however, dominated every aspect of the contest and left Tulane wishing they had implemented a mercy rule.
Tyler Hoffman took the mound for the Green Wave and tried his best to curb a potent attack. He did not do himself any favors by allowing constant traffic on the bases. Despite this, he managed to give up just 2 Runs through three innings. Then in the 4th, the wheels fell off. Hoffman could not find a way to get the final out and escape with just one more run tacked on. He gave up a 3-Run HR to Hunter Hines followed by a walk to Logan Tanner and his day was over.
Oddly enough, Hoffman may have been the best guy for the job tonight. The bullpen, backed by some shoddy defense, absolutely imploded in the 5th. Mississippi State tallied 9 Runs, 8 Hits, 2 Errors, and left a pair of baserunners stranded. They sent 14 batters to the plate and took an insurmountable lead. Thanks to errors committed by the defense only 1 of the 9 Runs was actually earned by the trio of arms Tulane needed to get through the inning.
Turner Thompson was left in to navigate the 6th inning and managed to put up a zero. From there the Green Wave decided to trot out a different young arm each inning. Ben Tate allowed 2 Runs, Cristian Sanchez had a nice 1-2-3 inning, and Adam Grintz gave up a couple more.
When the offensive onslaught was finally over, the Bulldogs had racked up 19 Runs! One could pick virtually any offensive name on the roster and assume he had some sort of productivity at the plate. The Bulldogs sent 16 different batters to the plate and used 17 total position players (Jess Davis, unfortunately did not get to step into the batter’s box). Despite the incredible display on offense, however, their pitching managed to shine even brighter.
Landon Sims was having one of those performances that people can’t even recreate in a video game on the easiest settings. Sims was 3.2 innings through a perfect game. That is 11 batters retired in a row. 10 of those outs were Ks. As he dealt strike three to Brady Hebert, Sims was seen wincing a bit and shaking his hand. This prompted the training staff to meet him on the mound and ultimately decide that his miraculous outing was being cut short.
As an emotional Sims watched from the dugout, Brandon Smith tried to salvage a combined no-hitter for his Ace. Unfortunately, he gave up a hit to the very first batter he faced. He did manage 3.1 innings and only allowed 1 Run on 3 Hits (which was good enough to earn him the win), but the college baseball world will be left wondering what pieces of history could have been rewritten by Sims tonight.
Cam Tullar was called on for the 8th inning and he allowed an RBI double to deep CF off the bat of Ethan Groff with two runners on. That “double” clearly hit off the yellow stripe on top of the wall and bounced back in play. It should have been ruled a home run, but the replay officials could not definitively overturn the call because the ball looked like a tiny white speck on video as it flew over 400 feet from home plate. Nevertheless, Tullar settled down and stranded two runners in scoring position.
The 9th inning belonged to Drew Talley who needed just 13 pitches to strike out the side and put the game to rest. He is not credited with a save (for obvious reasons). If he had thrown 79 balls in row instead of trying to get outs, the game still wouldn’t have been tied.
Tulane has their work cut out for them Saturday afternoon. They can rest easy knowing that the offense showed a glimmer of hope in the 8th inning and that some of their bullpen arms are good enough to record a couple outs against a lineup of Mississippi State’s pinch hitters and defensive substitutes. Other than that, they have to thank Hoffman for dealing 91 pitches and going as deep as he did. He saved a few innings of relief work with a hard fought outing.
Mississippi State, on the other hand, needs to get to sleep and rest up tonight. 12 of their 17 hits today were singles and they were gifted 10 free passes by the pitchers and 4 Errors. That is a great deal of running the bases. They do not want to come out sore, tired, or uninterested tomorrow. Most importantly, every Bulldog fan out there should be praying for Landon Sims. Hopefully his injury is nothing serious and he can get back to competing soon.