Saturday afternoon at Lee-Hines Field, the sky was gray and cloudy and the wind was stiff and freezing. The ground was completely drenched from days of rain that hadn’t dried.
It was the best day of the year for Southern baseball.
The Jaguars kicked off its weekend series against Selma University with a seven-inning 10-0 win in the team’s best performance to date.
That wasn’t a high bar to surpass after the first month Southern (4-11) had to begin this season — but for at least one day, the Jaguars felt a rush of joy in the dugout as they cheered on teammates and celebrated at the end.
“We could feel the energy. Everybody had energy,” Southern third baseman Troy Lewis said. “It was nice to be on the other side for once, and I think we have a lot of this coming in the future.”
Lewis started the offensive celebration in the third inning in a moment Southern coach Roger Cador had been waiting all season to see.
Clutch hitting has been a major concern for the Jaguars, but with two outs in the bottom of the third, Lewis bounced a ball into the right field wall for a triple, setting Southern up for one of its best offensive performances of the year.
Lewis scored two batters later when catcher Jose De La Torre pulled a single into left field. A balk with a runner on third and a throwing error at home gave Southern three runs in the inning and enough of a lead to last the rest of the day.
“We got three hits with two outs, and that’s something we haven’t done all year,” coach Roger Cador said. “That’s big for us.
“This game can’t be won without clutch, two-out hits. They have to happen at some point by every person in the lineup.”
Southern continued its rally in the fourth inning by scoring four runs on four hits, including another two runs with two outs.
The Jaguars had five players record multi-hit games. De La Torre led the way with two RBIs on three hits, all of which were singles.
Southern starting pitcher J’Markus George also had one of his best outings of the season, throwing a two-hitter through six innings. The junior struck out six while walking only one on 80 pitches.
George’s shining moment of the day came in the fourth inning after he loaded the bases with nobody outs. He escaped by striking out Selma left fielder Daryl Watkins and getting catcher Brent Bodree to ground into a double play.
“Today just wasn’t our day,” Selma coach Adrian Holloway said. “We made some errors in critical moments that changed the pace of the game. ... We just couldn’t capitalize on anything today.”
Cador said he’s hoping this weekend proves to be a significant boost for his team’s confidence.
But naturally, he remains skeptical about what one early win can mean.
Southern has not been swept in a three-game series this year, but also hasn’t won more than one game in a given week.
“We’ll know tomorrow,” Cador said. “We have to make sure we can build on this momentum that we have now.”