Southern’s relief pitching and defense have made it difficult for the Jaguars to hold on to leads this season.
Both areas let them down again Friday night as Texas Southern scored five runs in the eighth inning to take the lead and it pulled away to beat Southern 13-5 at Lee-Hines Field.
J’Markus George (3-3) got the loss after leaving the game with a one-run lead but two runners on base in the eighth. Justin Freeman came on in relief — and after three walks and two errors by shortstop Malik Blaise, the Tigers had an 8-4 lead.
“It’s a familiar script,” Jaguars coach Roger Cador said. “If we can’t get to (closer) Troy Lewis, it’s usually a problem for us.”
Larry Romero (5-1) went 8.1 innings, and Aaron McIntyre got the final two outs for TSU.
George had retired nine batters in a row when he took a 4-3 lead into the eighth. Leadoff hitter Horace LeBlanc beat out a grounder to short and Jeremy Thomas followed with a double to right, bringing on Freeman.
“If J’Markus could have gotten one or two outs in the eighth, we might have gone to Troy,” Cador said.
Freeman walked Charles Guillory to load the bases, and Ryan Lazo reached on Blaise’s error at short, which allowed two runs to score. and Lazo continued to second when no one covered the bag after Blaise’s errant throw.
After Richard Alamo walked, Kamren Dukes reached on another error by Blaise, making it 7-4. The eighth run scored on Chris Scroggins’ RBI grounder.
“It’s tough, but that’s baseball,” George said. “You havs to understand that the ball is not going to always bounce your way.”
Southern (8-15, 3-6 Southwestern Athletic Conference) scored just one run after loading the bases with none out in the bottom of the eighth.
TSU (11-13, 5-5) added five insurance runs in the ninth.
The Jaguars gave George the lead by scoring two runs in the seventh. Jayeayan Williams drew a leadoff walk and Lewis followed with a single. A wild pitch advanced the runners before Robinson Mateo sliced a triple just inside the right-field foul line to give Southern a 4-3 lead.
The Jaguars missed an opportunity to increase the lead when Mateo had to hold third on Ashanti Wheatley’s grounder there, Dondrayas Harris struck out and Marcus Hodge grounded out.
“We didn’t come close to getting him home,” Cador said.
The Tigers trailed 2-1 before taking their first lead in the fifth. Dukes led off with a double, Gerreck Jimenez beat out an infield single and Scroggins walked to load the bases. Joel Rosario-Alicea’s walk forced home the tying run and Leblanc’s fielder’s-choice grounder sent home the go-ahead run
Southern committed five errors and six of TSU’s runs were unearned.
After an afternoon thunderstorm caused a one-hour, two-minute delay to the start of the game, Southern took a 1-0 lead in the second when Dondrayas Harris was hit by a pitch leading off, stole second, moved up on Anthony Valdes’ groundout and scored on D’Andre Williams’ infield hit.
TSU tied the score in the third when Lazo led off with a single, advanced on a wild pitch and Alamo’s sacrifice and scored on Dukes’ groundout.
The Jaguars regained the lead in the bottom half when Javeayan Williams led off with a walk, stole second and scored on Lewis’ double.