As of Sunday evening, the Southern baseball team is the proud owner of a bona fide winning streak.
Selma didn’t make it easy, but the Jaguars completed the series sweep by wining both legs of Sunday’s doubleheader by scores of 12-6 and 4-3.
Before this weekend, Southern (6-11) had yet to string together back-to-back wins.
“It feels good. It feels really good,” said Southern starting pitcher Daniel Franklin, the winning pitcher for Sunday’s first game. “We’re coming along together as a team, and we just have to keep progressing and working harder.”
Franklin put himself in a hole early when he left a fastball high in the strike zone for Selma designated hitter Deshun Bolling to send careening into the right-field scoreboard for a two-run homer in the first inning.
But Franklin allowed only one run and four hits in the next five innings. He finished with three runs on five hits while striking out four.
His teammates backed him up at the plate, driving in nine runs between the third and fourth innings on their way to what would become Southern’s best offensive output of the year.
“Franklin was able to get better as the game went along, and we were able to get some good, quality hits,” Southern coach Roger Cador said. “That’s what we’re focusing on.”
The Jaguars offense dried up in the second game, though, after starting out with three runs in the first.
For the next five innings, Southern was held scoreless on only two hits as Selma (12-7) settled down for the first time all weekend.
Selma coach Adrian Holloway said his Bulldogs were intimidated by the Division I Jaguars in the previous two games, but freshman pitcher Reggie Vaughn effectively contained Southern’s offense.
It looked as if the shortened game was headed to extra innings with the score tied at 3 in the seventh until Southern’s hottest hitter stepped to the plate with one out and two runners on.
Southern catcher Jose Dela Torre battered the Bulldogs pitching staff all weekend, entering his final at-bat with five RBIs on 6-of-9 hitting through three games. Dela Torre knew he wanted a fastball, and on the first pitch, he got what he wanted. Troy Lewis easily scored from second base as Dela Torre’s hit bounced into left field for a single.
Lewis also claimed the win after moving from third base to the mound, where he closed out the seventh. Vaughn took the loss, allowing four runs on five hits in a complete game.
“All I had to do was drive in the run,” Dela Torre said through an interpreter. “That’s my job, so that’s all I wanted to do.”
The Jaguars will have to wait to see whether their first win streak of the season translates into long-term momentum, but Cador isn’t ready to say it was the turnaround they needed after watching his team struggle to finish the last game.
Southern goes on the road again this week when it visits Loyola on Wednesday.
“We don’t want to take away that they won two games today, but they could’ve done better,” Cador said. “There were a lot of things they need to improve on if they’re going to be a good team going forward.”