Southern’s Daniel Franklin and Texas Southern’s Seth Oliver engaged in a strong pitchers’ duel for six innings Saturday afternoon at Lee-Hines Field.
In the end, Oliver had more staying power, and that resulted in a 5-2 Tigers victory that clinched the weekend series for them in the wake of a 13-5 win Friday night.
Oliver (2-3) went eight innings and limited the Jaguars to six hits. Robert Pearson pitched a perfect ninth.
Franklin (2-2) matched Oliver as the teams entered the seventh tied at 1, but Franklin was gone before TSU completed its decisive three-run rally in the inning.
It had been 13 days since Oliver pitched because the Tigers didn’t play last weekend. He pitched two scoreless innings in a win against Grambling, one day after he got a no-decision after starting in a loss to Grambling.
“I think the time off helped him,” Tigers coach Michael Robertson said. “You could see it in his workouts. He had better command.”
TSU is 12-13 and 6-5 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Southern is 8-16 and 3-7 going into the series finale at 1 p.m. Sunday.
The Tigers quickly loaded the bases with none out in the seventh as Blake Hicks led off with a single, Ryan Lazo doubled and Dukes Kamren walked. Richard Alamo drew a bases-loaded walk on a 3-2 pitch to force home the tiebreaking run.
Jimenez hit a grounder against as drawn-in infield. Shortstop Malik Blaise made a diving stop but couldn’t make a play from his knees and Lazo scored. Chris Scroggins’ sacrifice fly made it 4-1.
“I just wasn’t as consistent (in the seventh) as I was earlier,” Franklin said.
He walked Rosario-Alicea and Victor Ilarraza relieved and got an inning-ending double play on his first pitch.
Southern coach Roger Cador said he was encouraged by Ilarraza, who allowed a scratch run in 2.2 innings as Cador seeks a consistent setup man in the bullpen.
“He came in and threw one pitch and got two outs,” Cador said. “He pitched well and he threw strikes.”
Southern broke a streak of six scoreless innings in the eighth. Robinson Mateo led off with a single, Ashanti Wheatley followed with a single and Mateo advanced to third on Dondrayas Harris’ fly to center.
Oliver faked a pickoff throw to first, then threw errantly to third, allowing Mateo to score and Wheatley to reach third. The Jaguars got no closer as Marcus Hodge struck out and Anthony Valdes grounded out, stranding Wheatley at third.
“I talked to them before the game about being more aggressive, but we weren’t as aggressive as we need to be,” Cador said. “We’re making mistakes anyway. If you make a mistake while being aggressive something good might happen.”
TSU added a run in the ninth. Ilarraza hit Dukes and Alamo reached after forcing Dukes, stole second, advanced on a flyout and scored on Scroggins’ bunt single.
Southern took a 1-0 lead after two were out in the first. Wheatley was hit by a pitch, stole second and went home on Harris’ single.
“(Oliver) has had some problems in the first inning,” Robertson said. “So when I looked up and saw they only got one run in the first, I was encouraged.”
TSU tied the score in the second when Jeremy Thomas walked with one out and Hicks followed with an RBI-double.
Cador said senior catcher Jose de la Torre was delayed in tending to personal business at home in Puerto Rico and won’t return in time to play in the series.
Follow Les East on Twitter, @EastAdvocate.