The arms were solid, and the bats found a little bit of momentum Sunday.
For Southern baseball coach Roger Cador, it’s just in time — since top-ranked LSU is coming by soon.
The Jaguars split a Southwestern Athletic Conference doubleheader at Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Sunday, dropping the opener 2-0 before responding with a 7-2 victory in the nightcap.
Southern (3-10, 2-3) went 14 innings Sunday before scoring, but it made up for it in the final few innings. Sparked by Robinson Mateo’s run-scoring triple, the Jaguars racked up four runs in the sixth inning (after trailing 2-0) of the second game and tacked on two more in the seventh and one in the eighth.
“Robinson Mateo had the big hit to knock in the first run,” Cador said. “That’s what got us going. Jose de la Torre got a big hit (an RBI single) in the sequence, but we’ve got to take better at-bats. Once we start taking better at-bats, our confidence should go up. When that happens, we should have the makings of a decent team.”
The Jaguars will be able to test that theory shortly: LSU is set to visit Lee-Hines Field at 6 p.m. Tuesday (CST).
Not that Cador is putting any emphasis on the all-Baton Rouge showdown.
“I don’t, but you know kids,” he said. “I just try to prepare them and make sure they understand LSU is in a different league than we are. ... It’s going to be a tall order, but tall orders have been won many times.”
Southern’s pitching was up to the task Sunday. Santos Saldivar allowed seven hits and two runs (one earned) with nine strikeouts while going the distance in the first game, taking a tough-luck loss to fall to 0-4.
James Fontenot (1-0) was equally strong in the second game, allowing two runs and seven hits in seven innings with eight strikeouts.
Until Southern broke out late in the second game, pitching was in charge at Pine Bluff’s water-soaked home. Cador said he needs more from his batters soon, pointing to last Sunday’s 10-4 home win over South Dakota State as evidence the Jaguars can swing the bats with success.
“We lost our concentration that we had from South Dakota State,” he said. “We’re just not taking advantage of the opportunities that are in front of us, but it requires us making the sacrifice of taking quality at-bats and taking the ball the other way, and we’re just not ready to do that on a consistent basis. ...
“If we keep getting the pitching we got ... we could be dangerous if we hit. If we score some runs, we’ve got a chance.”