Southern baseball team looks to bounce back; series against Texas Southern starts Friday _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER McCLELLAND -- Southern's Santos Saldivar is the starting pitcher against Prairie View on Saturday at Lee-Hines Field.

Southern returns to Lee-Hines Field on Friday for the first time since it nearly beat No. 1-ranked LSU on Tuesday night.

The weekend series against Texas Southern was moved up because of anticipated rain later in the weekend. The series begins with a doubleheader Friday, with games at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., and concludes with a single game at noon Saturday.

Jaguars coach Roger Cador hopes this team responds to the 4-2, 10-inning loss to the Tigers the way his 1999 team responded to a similar loss to LSU.

“We won a whole bunch of games in a row after that, and we went on to win (the Southwestern Athletic Conference title),” Cador said Thursday. “I don’t know if these kids are like the kids in 1999. We’ll see.

“But I told them, ‘Why would you want to play like that, then go back to playing the way you had been?’ ”

Southern was 3-10 entering Tuesday’s game and took a 1-0 lead into the eighth inning and a 2-1 lead into the ninth before faltering.

In the 1999 meeting at Zephyr Field, the Jaguars had a 5-4 lead going to the ninth and gave up the tying run. The Tigers scored two runs in the top of the 11th and Southern scored one in the bottom half before losing 7-6.

Cador’s sentiment is well-meaning, of course, but that 1999 SWAC title was the team’s fourth in a row and amid a run of seven in eight seasons — the most dominant stretch in the veteran coach’s successful career. The last time SU won the SWAC baseball title was in 2009.

The Jaguars will be missing two pitchers for this series. Freshman right-hander Tyler Robinson, who started against LSU and threw seven innings, allowing one run, is inactive after throwing 94 pitches.

“We’re not going to overuse him,” Cador said. “He’s a freshman, and the future is bright for him. There’s no need to wear him down.”

Sophomore left-hander J’Markus George, who was replaced by Robinson in the rotation, has “an impingement” in his throwing shoulder and also is inactive for the weekend.

Cador said senior right-hander Santos Saldivar, who pitched a scoreless inning in relief against LSU, will make his customary opening-game start Friday and James Fontenot will start the second game.

The starter for Saturday’s game is undecided and the setup role ahead of closer Rafeal Diaz is up for grabs. Fontenot had been the set-up man before moving into the rotation.

Southern is 2-3 in the SWAC. TSU is 4-2, which is the best record in the West Division, and 8-11 overall. The Tigers haven’t played since being swept in a four-game series at Dallas Baptist last weekend. TSU, which swept three games from Grambling in its last conference series (March 6-7), is playing its first conference road series.

Follow Les East on Twitter: @EastAdvocate.