USF to face Tulane for second series of AAC play

USF enters its second weekend of AAC play after dropping a midweek game to Stetson 5-3 Tuesday night. The Bulls take on Tulane in a three-game series Thursday through Saturday at the USF Baseball Stadium.

Sophomore left-handed ace Shane McClanahan will start Thursday for the Bulls as they take on a Green Wave team currently on a two-game losing streak following a 9-3 loss at Southeastern Louisiana on Tuesday. 

Tulane (11-15, 2-1) is scheduled to pitch junior Kaleb Roper to oppose McClanahan. 

For USF’s hitters, who currently draw an average of 3.5 walks per game, staying patient against Roper and the rest of the Tulane pitching staff will be key throughout the series. Tulane walks an average of 5 1/2 batters per nine innings, which ranks 255th out of 297 Division 1 NCAA programs. Roper, specifically, has walked an average of five batters per nine innings in 2018, which is the most on Tulane’s pitching staff.

Both McClanahan and Roper usually pitch Friday nights, but with Easter Sunday, the two will faceoff when the series starts Thursday instead. 

Roper has made every Friday night start for the Green Wave, going 2-3 with a 4.40 ERA. He has allowed 15 earned runs on the season, including two outings of six earned runs against Cal State Fullerton on March 2 and Long Beach State on March 16.

McClanahan’s last outing wasn’t his usual dominance. The Bulls’ ace allowed six earned runs — his first earned runs in six starts this season — in four innings when USF fell to UConn on Friday night.

“It wasn’t the Shane (McClanahan) we’re used to seeing,” coach Billy Mohl said Friday. “He had the adrenaline going a little too much … In this league, you’ve got to throw something else beside the fastball.”

Last season, USF (18-8, 2-1) dropped two-of-three in the regular season against Tulane, but beat the Green Wave 7-6 in the first round of the AAC Tournament.

First pitch is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m.