Texas Southern became the first team to clinch a berth in the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship game with an 11-2 win over Jackson State on Friday.
The win allows Texas Southern to take a much-needed day off Saturday before taking the field Sunday for a chance to earn the SWAC's automatic bid to the NCAA regionals.
“It’s just a testament of everything we did during the season,” Texas Southern coach Ehren Moreno said. “We just tried to build up a good body of work. You talk about everything we’ve done this season — we lost 12 games by one run, and then we come out here and play really good ball.”
Friday marked the second time this week Texas Southern overcame Jackson State, but the games couldn’t have been more different.
On Thursday, JSU mounted an impressive comeback to force extra innings, and Texas Southern won with a game-winning three-run homer in the bottom of the 10th.
But on Friday, in what was an elimination game for Jackson State, TSU was in command from start to finish, scoring four runs in the ninth to seal the game.
Texas Southern outhit JSU — one of the most productive offenses in the nation — 11-4.
Senior Ryan Hawkins earned his first win of the season after allowing one earned run on four hits in 8.1 innings.
This will be Texas Southern’s third consecutive appearance in the championship game. The Tigers defeated Southern in the 2015 conference final and lost to Alabama State last year.
Prairie View 4, Alcorn State 3
Prairie View staved off a late comeback attempt by Alcorn State in Friday’s quarterfinal matchup to win 4-3, eliminating the Braves.
Alcorn scored three runs in the sixth inning, but it wasn't enough to overtake the Panthers.
Prairie View moved on to play defending champion Alabama State in the semifinals late Friday night. A Prairie View win would force a second semifinal game Saturday.