Southern’s Dondrayas Harris hits for cycle in loss to Grambling _lowres

Advocate staff photo by JOHN OUBRE -- Southern first baseman Mason Diaz waits on a throw back to first as Grambling's Angel Peguero steps safely back to the bag on Sunday at Lee Hines field.

There wasn’t much more Dondrayas Harris could do for the Southern baseball team on Sunday at Lee-Hines Field.

Harris had one of the best days of any Jaguar in recent memory, hitting for the cycle with a 5-for-5 effort while also driving in four and scoring three times.

The only problem was that it was all in vain.

Despite Harris’ efforts, Grambling completed the weekend sweep with a 16-11 win, extending Southern’s longest losing streak since 2014 to nine games.

“It was exceptional, but I could have done better to help the team out,” Harris said. “I wish we had come out with this win, but it showed how competitive we are and that we just don’t give up.”

Southern coach Roger Cador said there’s no such thing as a good loss, especially when it’s by five runs, but Sunday came as close as possible to confounding that philosophy.

The Jaguars got off to an atrocious start, trailing 11-0 by the middle of the fifth inning.

Southern pitcher Josh Sparks didn’t make it to the end of the first half-inning after allowing five runs on three hits, including a home run by Grambling shortstop Wesley Drain on the second pitch of the game.

Southern relief pitcher Jarrod Jarreau fared slightly better but still allowed three runs on two hits.

Jarreau gave up a leadoff home run to Grambling third baseman Daniel Barnett to start the second inning, and Drain homered again in the third — this time with a runner on first.

“We just put some good swings on some good pitches,” Grambling coach James Cooper said. “We just had a chance to attack more pitches that were up than they did.”

One possible reason for Southern’s slow start to the game may have to do with the school suffering from the losses of freshman track and field athlete Annette January and sophomore student athletic trainer Lashuntae Benton, who were killed by gunfire early Sunday morning at the Cottages of Baton Rouge.

Benton was a trainer with the baseball team earlier in the season, and Cador said many of his players also knew January through the Southern athletic community.

Cador has been a coach at Southern since 1978, but said he’s never coached under circumstances similar to Sunday.

“The kids took it hard when they began to come in this morning because everybody didn’t know it. They hadn’t got the news yet,” Cador said. “All I did was ask them (the players) to keep the family in their prayers, which we all have done.”

With his fellow students in mind, Harris led the charge in turning the game around in the bottom of the fifth.

Harris started the comeback with a two-run double to give Southern its first runs of the day and closed the deficit further in the seventh inning with a two-run homer. He completed the cycle in the eighth with a triple to the right-centerfield wall.

The Jaguars had a chance to tie the game with two outs in the eighth inning, but fell short, ultimately sealing the outcome.

“I’m very proud as a coach,” Cador said. “Normally when a team is down 11-0 in the (fifth) inning, they tank it. But this team didn’t do that today. With all the losing, they had enough pride to fight to try to make a run at it.”