Southern had its chances to even up a weekend series with Grambling, but a lack of timely hitting late in the game was too much to overcome Saturday afternoon at Lee-Hines Field.
The Jaguars left the bases loaded twice in the final three innings of regulation before Grambling pushed across a pair of unearned runs in the top of the 10th inning to complete a 10-8, come-from-behind win.
Southern’s relief pitching, which has been spotty this season at best, held Grambling (14-13, 10-4 SWAC) scoreless from the seventh inning through the ninth.
In contrast, Southern (8-20, 3-10) loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh and two outs in the eighth but came away empty both times.
“We couldn’t do it,” Southern coach Roger Cador said. “We don’t do very well in that type of pressure situation. My young people are trying, but they’re not ready to take advantage of this type of opportunity.”
Troy Lewis (1-2) played third base most of the game before moving to the pitcher’s mound in the 10th. He walked leadoff batter Nicholas Wheeler, and the next two batters reached base when Southern committed fielding errors trying to handle sacrifice bunts.
Angel Peguero then lifted a sacrifice fly to deep center to drive in the go-ahead run. Pinch runner Allen Mayes made it a two-run cushion when he scored from third on a wild pitch.
Grambling reliever Marlon Pruitt pitched the final 2.1 innings to get the win. He came on with two outs in the eighth and struck out Ashanti Wheatley with the bases loaded.
He retired Southern in order in the ninth but walked Javeayan Williams to start the 10th. He got Lewis out on a fly ball to left, and Robinson Mateo hit into a game-ending double play.
Southern had a chance to break the 8-8 tie in the seventh inning. Jose DeLaTorre drew a leadoff walk and took second on Dondrayas Harris’ single. And when GSU third baseman Daniel Barnett threw wild to first on Ashanti Wheatley’s sacrifice bunt, the Jaguars had the bases loaded.
DeLaTorre was forced out at home after Anthony Valdes grounded to first, and things got no better. Mason Diaz struck out, and Malik Blaise flew out to left to end the inning.
GSU’s Dian Holbrook issued a pair of two-out walks to load the bases in the eighth, prompting Grambling to turn to Pruitt. Wheatley worked the count full before going down swinging.
“They’re coming up short right now, and that’s okay because they’re learning,” Cador said. “You have to make contact in that situation.
“If you want to win, you have to get the hit.”
A bright spot for Southern’s pitching was the work of Justin Freeman, who pulled himself together after Grambling rallied to tie the game with four runs in the sixth inning.
Freeman, who relieved Harold Myles after he walked the bases loaded, was charged with only one of the sixth-inning runs. Over the next three innings he walked three and gave up one hit, but got help from two double plays.
“I was just trying to keep my team in the game as long as possible so we could win. That’s my job,” Freeman said. “It’s been a good day, bad day sort of (season), but I’m starting to get a good feel for it out there.”