The South Dakota State baseball team came to the milder climate of the South to squeeze in six games in six days to get ready for the start of Summit League play next week.
One game in, it looks like the Jackrabbits’ No. 1 starter is already prepared to start conference play.
Senior right-hander Adam Bray pitched eight scoreless innings as South Dakota State defeated Southern 3-0 on Friday afternoon at Lee-Hines Field.
Bray (1-1), one of the most accomplished pitchers in Jackrabbits history, allowed just three hits, struck out seven, walked two and hit two. He threw 105 pitches before turning it over to closer J.D. Moore, who allowed a hit and a walk in pitching a scoreless ninth for his second save.
“They wanted to extend me because we’ve got conference next weekend,” said Bray, who will start the conference opener at Nebraska-Omaha next Friday. “I can handle this early. I’ve prepared my self well.
“I was attacking the zone and my off-speed was working, and my defense behind me was really great.”
Bray, a first-team all-Summit League player a year ago, is third in his school’s career history in innings pitched, fourth in strikeouts and fifth in starts.
“He’s a strike-thrower,” State coach Dave Schrage said. “He doesn’t walk many people. Last year he walked nine guys in 101 innings so he makes teams put the ball in play and if we play defense behind him we really do a good job.”
Jaguars starter Santos Saldivar (0-3) was strong on the mound himself, allowing just two runs on eight hits and striking out nine in seven innings. It was dramatically better than his last start in which he lasted just one-third of an inning after walking in three runs in an 8-2 loss to Prairie View last week.
“I feel better about myself because I’m back to the way I was last year,” said Saldivar, who was 3-0 with a 2.06 ERA last season, “but I’d rather give up 10 and win 11-10 than give up two and lose.
“I was mentally focused for this game. Last week was just a fluke. It won’t happen again.”
Southern’s leadoff hitter reached against Bray just once, when D.J. Wallace led off the second with a double — but Wallace was easily thrown out at third when he tried to advance on Theo Smith’s grounder to short.
Jaguars coach Roger Cador said he asked Wallace, “What are you doing?” Then he pointed to the dugout and told Wallace he was removing him from the game before Wallace even reached the dugout.
“He said the magic word to me,” Cador said. “That’s all that it took. We’re not going to have anybody talking to the coach in a disrespectful manner.”
The Jackrabbits (3-5) took a 1-0 lead in the fourth with some help from Saldivar and catcher Marcus Hodge. Newt Johnson led off with a single and went to second and third on a pair of wild pitches that Hodge couldn’t handle while Cody Sharrow was trying to sacrifice. Sharrow struck out before Eric Danforth singled home Johnson.
Saldivar and Hodge again helped State as it scored its second run in the seventh. Tony Kjolsing led off by beating out a grounder to short. Two outs later, Saldivar threw a wild pitch and Hodge had a passed ball, advancing Kjolsing to third. Kjolsing came home when Al Robbins beat out a grounder to third.
That was the last inning for Saldivar. The Jackrabbits increased the lead to 3-0 with a run against James Fontenot with two out in the eighth. Paul Jacosbon singled, stole second and scored on Zach Coppola’s single.
The Jaguars (1-7) put the first two batters on against Moore, but he got the next three.
“Right now we’re not very comfortable doing a lot of things,” Cador said, “especially swinging the bats with men on base.”
Southern and State conclude the series with a doubleheader at 11 a.m. Saturday.