Texas Southern leadoff hitter Zach Welz began Saturday’s game with a line drive that bounced off Southern center fielder Lance Jones’ glove for a three-base error.
Moments later, the Tigers had a three-run lead before the Jaguars even had a chance to bat.
Southern responded with a run in the bottom of the first and kept fighting back, but the Jaguars never pulled even as TSU completed a three-game sweep with an 8-4 victory at Lee-Hines Field.
“Right away, we were in a really difficult situation,” Southern coach Roger Cador said.
The closest Southern came to getting even was with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. The Jaguars trailed 6-4 and had Marcus Tomlin on third when pinch hitter D.J. Wallace flied out to deep left field.
The Tigers extended the lead to 8-4 on Jerry Ford’s two-run homer off Rafeal Diaz in the ninth.
“Our approach was to take pitches and be willing to take walks,” said Jaguars shortstop Robinson Mateo, who had a single, two walks and a run scored. “They were throwing a lot of pitches outside, so we crowded the plate and just tried to get on because we needed base runners.”
Texas Southern (11-11, 7-2 Southwestern Athletic Conference Western Division) evened its overall record with its weekend sweep.
Southern (3-14, 2-6) visits Jackson State on Tuesday.
After triples by Ford and Robert Garza and a wild pitch by Jaguars starter Justin Freeman completed the scoring in the top of the first, Southern scored in the bottom half when Tomlin doubled and Jose de la Torre singled him home.
Freeman (0-2) didn’t get out of the second inning. After one out, Christopher Scroggins singled and Welz tripled him home. Jamun Banks relieved and gave up an RBI single on a bunt by Lazo, who stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Ford’s sacrifice bunt.
But Banks was a bright spot and bought his teammates time to get back in the game. After the initial bunt single, he retired the next eight batters in a row and allowed one run in 4.2 innings before giving way to Harold Myles to start the seventh.
“Banks came in and did a very good job,” Cador said. “So did Harold Myles.”
Myles pitched 1.2 scoreless innings and Jacob Wallace walked the only batter he faced before Diaz relieved with one out in the eighth.
TSU starter Robert Pearson (2-2) gave up seven hits and two runs, one earned, in six innings. Jakari Bass pitched a scoreless seventh and Devin Konarik finished with two scoreless innings for his fourth save.
The Jaguars got within 6-2 in the fourth when Marcus Hodge singled home Theo Smith. They were threatening with runners on first and second and one out in the sixth, but Nkosi Djehuti-Mes was picked off first before Hodge popped to second.
“We missed a golden opportunity there,” Cador said.
Southern cut the lead to 6-4 in the seventh on Tomlin’s RBI single and de la Torre’s sacrifice fly.
Follow Les East on Twitter: @EastAdvocate.