Southern has had trouble all season finding effective relief pitching that could preserve a lead long enough for Troy Lewis to come in and close.
Daniel Franklin got around the problem Friday night, pitching a two-hit shutout over eight innings before Lewis came in and finished a 4-1 victory against Prairie View at blustery Lee-Hines Field, ending the Jaguars’ nine-game losing streak.
“My goal is always to go as deep into the game as I can,” said Franklin, who matched his longest outing of the season, which came in Southern’s last win against Arkansas-Pine Bluff 20 days earlier. “I was able to keep repeating my motion and I stayed focused.”
Franklin (3-3) walked two and struck out nine and Lewis allowed two hits and an unearned run.
Anthony Valdes, Dondrayas Harris and Franky Montesino all had RBI singles as Southern manufactured enough small-ball offense to support Franklin.
The Jaguars (9-21, 4-11) tied the Panthers (10-19, 4-11) for fourth place in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Western Division in the battle for a spot in the conference tournament next month. The second game of the series is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday.
After a 1-2-3 first, Franklin allowed two singles in the second, but stranded both runners when he got Thi Mai to ground out.
That started a string of 10 straight batter retired by Franklin before Brashad Jones reached on Harris’ error at first to start the sixth. Franklin walked the next batter, but retired the next three, the last two on strikeouts.
Franklin walked the leadoff hitter in the eighth, then got the next three hitters, the last on a strikeout.
“He didn’t try and overthrow; he was nice and easy,” Southern coach Roger Cador said of Franklin. “He was relaxed and didn’t wear himself out. He had both pitches working, his fastball and his curveball.”
Prairie View scored an unearned run off Lewis in the ninth as shortstop Malik Blaise mishandled a grounder for an error and Josh Jefferson followed with an RBI double. But Jefferson was thrown out trying to make it a triple and Blaise bounced back to make a nice play on Cody Den Beste’s grounder after a flyout and a triple.
“This should give us a little confidence,” Franklin said. “It should help us to continue to work hard and come together and build some chemistry to do what we have to do.”
Southern broke a scoreless tie with an unearned run in the second. Harris led off and reached on a two-base error by Jefferson at shortstop, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Valdes.
In the fourth, Jose de la Torre led off with a single, stole second, went to third on a balk and scored on Harris’ single. After hitting into a force-out, Ashanti Wheatley stole second and scored on Montesino’s single.
De la Torre and Harris led off the eighth with singles and Wheatley sacrificed them over. De la Torre came home with the final run when Jones threw wildly from second to third after fielding Valdes’ grounder.
“That fourth run was important because it gave us a little more room for error,” Cador said.
Follow Les East on Twitter, @EastAdvocate.