Southern has turned its baseball season around by losing just three of its past 13 games, but one of those losses really stands out.
The Jaguars (13-18) lost by the mercy rule to Louisiana-Lafayette, 14-1 in eight innings, at Lee-Hines Field on April 8. They’ll try to make a better showing in rematch at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Lafayette.
“We want to come out and play better,” outfielder Tyler Kirksey said before practice Tuesday. “We came out that game very flat, gave up a lot of two-out hits, and didn’t swing the bats well. So we definitely want to show that we can play better than that.”
The Ragin’ Cajuns took the lead for good against starter J’Markus George in the first inning and scored in all but one inning. Each starter had at least one of the team’s season-high 18 hits.
“The last time we played them, I thought they had great at-bats,” Southern pitching coach Dan Canevari said. “They’re a very, very good team. It’s a good test for us, and it’s a good test for J’Markus.”
George (1-4, 6.53 ERA), a sophomore left-hander, will start again Wednesday. In the first meeting, he allowed eight hits, five walks and five runs (four earned) in five innings.
Canevari said the Jaguars also plan to use Harold Myles, Ryan Flynn and Rafael Diaz as they try to finalize bullpen roles for the stretch run. George needs to show better command, Canevari said.
“At this level, you have to have command and be able to throw it under the bat, off the plate, and then over the plate when you want to,” he said. “You have to command the ball in the zone.
“That’s what he’s having trouble with. He gets a guy to two strikes, and he doesn’t make the pitch. He gets them to two outs, and he doesn’t get the third out. That’s a lack of concentration and focus, so we’ve got to get him to understand that he’s not going to just go out there and it’s all going to take care of itself. He’s got to work every single pitch until it’s time to run off the field.”
Coach Roger Cador said George, the team’s only left-hander who isn’t a freshman, could become a valuable member of the bullpen.
“What we need is that specialty guy that can come into the game and get a lefty or righty out,” Cador said. “(George) can keep them off-balance. He’s the one guy that we have coming out of there that can throw his second pitch for a strike.”
The Ragin’ Cajuns, who were 23-15 going into a game at Southeastern Louisiana on Tuesday, will start junior right-hander Eric Carter (1-1, 3.65), who was dominant in the first meeting. He struck out a career-high 11, holding the Jaguars to five hits, one walk and one run in seven innings.
Jaguars cleanup hitter D.J. Wallace will be in the lineup Wednesday after missing the first meeting because of injury.
“I’m excited to play them,” Wallace said. “I’m just happy to be healthy and happy to be on the field.
“It’s a new day, a new slate, let’s just go out there and play the game like it’s supposed to be played and have some fun.”
Follow Les East on Twitter @EastAdvocate.