Texas Southern had to defeat Grambling twice Saturday to reach the championship game of the Southwestern Athletic Conference baseball tournament.
No problem. Texas Southern, the No. 1 seed in the West Division, pounced on Grambling 4-1 and 7-4 and will face the Southern Jaguars at 2 p.m. Sunday for the title.
More important, with Southern banned from NCAA postseason play this season, TSU will represent the SWAC in an NCAA regional.
“I just had to remind the kids just who we were,” coach Michael Robertson said. “Our pitchers gave what we needed coming out of the loser’s bracket; we didn’t want to use a lot of pitchers. We played good defense and we hit the ball. We got back to being us today.”
First-game starter Larry Romero allowed two hits in 6.2 innings, and Robert Pearson, who started the second game, scattered eight hits over 8.1 innings. Texas Southern banged out 24 hits.
For TSU, Saturday also was a measure of revenge. Its only loss in the tournament was to Grambling in Thursday’s late game.
“In both games we played (Sataurday), offensively we just couldn’t get it going,” Grambling coach James Cooper said. “Not to make excuses, but we had a nice outing and the lightning and rain delays (Friday) took us out of it.”
Texas Southern now turns its attention to a Southern team against which it went 5-0 this season.
Texas Southern had gone 5-1 against Grambling during the regular season. That kind of dominance resurfaced Saturday. After winning the first game, Texas Southern jumped in front quickly in the second game with the NCAA berth and spot in the SWAC title game there for the taking.
The first two batters against Grambling starter Andre Wilson singled, then Wilson balked, sending Zach Welz home from third. Ryan Lazo scored one out later on Chris Scroggins’ groundout.
TSU then broke the game open with four runs in the fifth, touched off by Welz leadoff triple. Lazo, Scroggins and Robert Garza followed with singles on the way to a 6-0 lead.
In the first game, Romero no-hit Grambling until giving up a bunt single to Desmond Stegall in the sixth, when Grambling scored its only run of the game.
However, left fielder Zach Howell had gotten Texas Southern started quickly with a solo shot to right field in the top of the second against Grambling starter Brennan Williams.
TSU took a 3-0 lead in the fifth, making victory seem certain the way Romero was pitching. Welz singled up the middle with one out, scoring Horace Leblanc from third. Scroggins laid down a squeeze bunt against reliever Creighton Hoover that enabled Blake Hicks to score from third.
Grambling’s only run came against Romero in the sixth. After Stegall reached, Edwin Drexler bluffed a bunt then singled to right. Stegall scored from third when catcher Blake Hicks’ throw back to Romero was too high and went off his glove onto the infield.