Uhlman’s Tulane squad found a way to get back up after many knockdowns
They started the season with six straight losses and were soon 1-10. Then 2-13 and 3-15.
Yet, Tulane head coach Jay Uhlman continued with the mantra that the Green Wave’s best baseball was “in front of us.”
On Sunday in Clearwater, Florida, Uhlman was proven correct as his team celebrated an 8-6 win over East Carolina to capture the American Athletic Conference championship and the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA regionals.
Tulane not only defeated the league’s regular season champion but defeated second-place University of Houston twice.
In three games earlier in May, Houston swept Tulane by a combined score of 31-18.
A source close to the program gave us some insight as to how Uhlman was able to keep his team together during what was a 40 loss season, including only eight victories in 28 home games.
“He never wavered from his belief that a tough schedule would make the team better late in the season.”
Tulane, according to warrennolan.com, had the eighth toughest non-conference schedule in the country and the 36th overall toughest schedule.
“You heard him say that one of our problems in the past was not facing enough tough situations. Well, because of that schedule, this team was ready.”
The source said Uhlman used the motivation of the movie Rocky IV, when Rocky Balboa continues to get up after getting knocked down by Ivan Drago.
“When the team has a bad third inning, coach always referred to it as round three. And then he asked how we were going to get back up?”
In the Tulane dugout were pictures of Rocky getting back up.
Which is exactly what sophomore righthander Jonah Wachter did in the championship game.
Wachter, with an earned run average over 7, pitched 3.2 innings of one run relief, striking out 4.
Uhlman’s journey to Tulane is one of persistence. Before he was named the Green Wave’s interim coach late in the 2022 season, he was last a head coach at L.A. Harbor College in Wilmington, a 21-minute drive south from LAX.
After his time there, Uhlman made stops as an assistant at Nevada, Oregon, Kansas, and back for another eight years at Oregon, before landing at Tulane in 2020.
In the midst of Tulane’s search for a permanent head coach, Uhlman, the coach in the building, seemed like an unlikely choice.
And yet, there was his team hoisting the trophy as the conference tournament champion. The improbable, if not borderline impossible, had happened.
The Tulane source reflected.
“If he told them to run into a burning building, they wouldn’t hesitate.”
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WGNO Sports Director/106.1 FM
Ed is a New Orleans native, born at Baptist Hospital. He graduated Rummel High School, class of 1975, and subsequently graduated from Loyola University. Ed started in TV in 1977 as first sports intern at WVUE Channel 8. He became Sports Director at KPLC TV Channel 7 in Lake Charles in 1980. In 1982 he was hired as sports reporter…