Southern rearranged its weekend pitching roles, and it helped the Jaguars salvage a doubleheader split against Loyola on Saturday afternoon at Lee-Hines Field.
After the team’s losing streak reached three games with a 7-3 loss in the first game, Tyler Robinson, normally the Sunday starter, pitched seven strong innings, and No. 1 starter Santos Saldivar came out of the bullpen to get the last six outs for a save in a 7-2 win in the second game.
“He gave us a chance to win,” coach Roger Cador said of Robinson. “He kept them off the scoreboard.”
Southern (11-19) and Loyola (22-23) meet in the series finale at 1 p.m. Sunday at the MLB Urban Youth Academy.
Robinson (3-1) was making his first appearance since straining a groin muscle against Prairie View last weekend. As he warmed up before the game, his mother came to the bullpen fence and asked how he was feeling.
“I just said, ‘We’re not losing this game,’” Robinson recalled. “I walked out there with intensity. I wanted to pitch.”
The Wolfpack put at least one runner on base in every inning, but Robinson kept them scoreless until the sixth. That’s when he said his reduced stamina, because of being unable to run during the week, affected him.
Jordan Wilson led off with an infield single. And even though he was cut down on a fielder’s choice at third, Loyola scored a run thanks to three wild pitches and cut Southern’s lead to 3-1.
Saldivar relieved Robinson after the first two Loyola batters reached on a single and a walk in the eighth.
“We had to go get him at that point,” Cador said.
Saldivar got two outs before yielding an RBI single to Carmelo LoSauro, then maintained the one-run lead by striking out Daniel Pappas.
The Jaguars gave Saldivar a cushion by scoring four in the eighth on Jose de la Torre’s RBI single, Tyler Lee’s RBI double and Robinson Mateo’s two-run single.
Saldivar allowed a walk and single but struck out the side in the ninth.
Cador planned to rest Saldivar this weekend after he threw 151 pitches last week and with an important Southwestern Athletic Conference series against Arkansas-Pine Bluff looming next weekend.
But he decided to use Saldivar in a limited role so closer Rafael Diaz could get another day’s rest. Diaz threw four innings in a start against Jackson State on Tuesday and was feeling under the weather Saturday.
“I wanted to be out there and help the team,” Saldivar said. “As a senior guy, I want to pitch in every game possible.”
Southern took its first lead of the day when it broke a scoreless tie with Marcus Tomlin’s RBI single in the third inning of the second game.
The lead grew to 2-0 in the fourth when Lance Jones tripled and continued home on shortstop John Nicholson’s error on his relay throw to third. Another RBI single by Tomlin made it 3-0 in the fifth.
In the first game, the Wolfpack broke a 3-3 tie on Wilson’s two-run single against starter James Fontenot (4-2) in the sixth.
They scored a run on Joseph Kuchler’s RBI single in the eighth and added an unearned run against reliever Daniel Franklin on Lance Licciardi’s RBI single in the ninth.
Daniel Posway pitched four scoreless innings for his first save.
Fontenot gave up seven two-out hits.
“That’s a lot of two-out hits,” Cador said. “With two out you’ve got to be able to put people away.”
The Wolfpack took a 3-0 lead in the first before the Jaguars scored an unearned run with the help of errors by third baseman Allen Newman and center fielder Rawlings Elam in the fourth. They scored two in the fifth on Tyler Kirksey’s RBI single and de la Torre’s RBI double.
“It’s tough to win with three runs,” Cador said.
Follow Les East on Twitter @EastAdvocate.