Southern baseball team ready to open SWAC tournament against Jackson State _lowres

Advocate file photo by JOHN OUBRE -- Jose de la Torre has hit 10 of Southern's 19 home runs this season.

After a slight spark of excitement, Wednesday night went downhill in a hurry for the Southern baseball team.

The Jaguars jumped to an early one-run lead against McNeese State in the first inning, but the Cowboys scored 12 unanswered runs on their way to a dominant 13-5 win.

An RBI single up the middle by Southern second baseman Marcus Tomlin and a sacrifice fly to right field by catcher Jose de la Torre gave the Jaguars (13-22) their initial momentum, but a five-run top of the second that featured McNeese (25-20) batting around the lineup quickly squashed any hope for a Southern victory.

“We didn’t pitch well and then we didn’t defend well and then we didn’t get the hits,” Southern coach Roger Cador said. “We played way below the expectations we had for our kids.”

Southern pitcher Harold Myles (0-4) took the loss, giving up six runs in two innings. He was the first of five Southern pitchers.

Myles was pulled after a disastrous five-run second inning. He gave up five hits in all, with one strikeout and one walk.

Altogether, Southern pitchers allowed 16 hits, plunked two batters and walked three while striking out four.

“It’s tough when you don’t have the kind of stuff to overpower people,” Cador said. “When you don’t make plays with the pitchers we pitch, it’s difficult because then they try to do too much (at the plate) and it complicates things and compounds the situation.”

McNeese exploded for another four runs in the top of the fifth inning off Southern’s Daniel Franklin, thanks in part to Cowboys first baseman Connor Crane smacking a two-RBI double to right field for what would be the team’s final runs of the night.

Crane finished with three RBIs on two hits, but trailed shortstop Connor Lloyd who produced five RBIs on four hits, including a seventh-inning triple that put him a home run shy of the hitting cycle.

McNeese right fielder James Cantu was the only batter to put a ball out of the park. He hit a two-run homer to right field in the fourth inning.

“We had the two-out home run, but even if we wouldn’t have scored there, I thought the at bats were good,” said McNeese coach Justin Hill, whose team lost to Southern 5-4 in Lake Charles on March 31. “We were taking good at-bats, we were making good swings, we had traffic on the bases all the time — we were forcing their guys to pitch in traffic a little bit, which is what you want.”

The Jaguars cut a few runs off the Cowboys’ lead later in the night, scoring three runs in the sixth and seventh innings.

Southern left fielder Tyler Kirksey led the Jaguars with three hits and a run, including a pair of doubles.

McNeese pitcher Lucas Quary earned the win after relieving starter Trent Fontenot to start the second inning because of what Hill described as a lingering knee injury.

Fontenot allowed two runs on three hits with a pair of strikeouts. Quary threw a clean two innings for no runs on no hits and one strikeout.