MOBILE, Ala. — Southern coach Roger Cador has been slow to call on his bullpen this season, a unit that for the most part has been unreliable.
Friday night, he had no choice.
The Jaguars relievers responded with seven quality innings, and it was enough to give Southern a chance to rally in the ninth inning for a 5-4 win over No. 23 South Alabama.
“Right off the bat we burned two pitchers, so I was worried,” Cador said. “But Joseph Sanchez and Justin Freeman came in and really pitched well. The key was, they gave us a chance to come back on them.”
Southern (12-22) made the most of that chance, scoring four runs in the top of the ninth inning to erase a 4-1 deficit.
The rally got started when Frankie Montesino tried to sacrifice bunt with runners at first and second. Montesino picked up two strikes trying to place the bunt, then he laced an RBI single to center.
After Marcus Hodge moved the runners up with a sacrifice, Troy Lewis tied the game with a two-RBI single to center.
Robinson Mateo then sent a sacrifice fly to center to give Southern the lead.
“We play better on the road. We have all season, so our mood was pretty good,” Cador said. “Our guys felt they had earned the right to be there (in the ninth) because they played good baseball.”
South Alabama (28-11) scored twice in the first inning off of Southern starter Daniel Franklin, who had a stiff neck and was relieved by Jarod Jarreau to start the second.
Jarreau, bothered by a sinus infection, was replaced by Sanchez to start the third inning. Sanchez gave up one hit and one run in 4.1 innings.
Freeman (2-2) came on with one out in the seventh. He finished the game, allowing one run on three hits. In the ninth, Freeman gave up a one-out double but retired the next two batters to preserve the win.
In the third inning, South Alabama manufactured a run to extend its lead to 3-0. Drew LaBounty walked, stole second and took third on a ground out. He scored on a wild pitch.
Southern got the run back when Robinson Mateo led off the fourth inning with a home run to left field.