GRAMBLING — Southern’s search for effective starting pitching against Grambling finally bore fruit.
John Guienze pitched a complete game and gave the Jaguars bats all the time they needed to win the third game of their Southwestern Athletic Conference series 15-3.
The game was called by mercy rule after seven innings.
The win leaves Southern (25-19, 15-5) three games ahead of Grambling in the loss column in the SWAC Western Division standings. Grambling is finished with its regular-season conference schedule; Southern will close out SWAC play at Prairie View next weekend and needs just one win to clinch the division title.
Southern won two of three games against Prairie View at Lee-Hines Field on the last weekend in March. The Jaguars would need to sweep the Panthers to tie Eastern Division leader Alabama State, which is done with SWAC play at 18-5, for the best record in conference play.
Guienze limited Grambling (23-20, 16-8) to three runs on five hits and showed good control issuing just one walk. The numbers provided a contrast from the first two games, when Southern’s starting pitching was responsible for giving up a combined 13 runs on eight hits in just 2 2/3 innings.
On Sunday, Southern took control with eight runs in the second inning, when the Jaguars sent 12 batters to the plate. Johnny Johnson and Ashanti Wheatley hit home runs, and Willie Ward had a triple as Southern took advantage of five hits, an error, two wild pitches and a passed ball during the at-bat.
Southern added two runs in the third inning to increase its lead to 11-1.
Ward and Tyler LaPorte each hit two-run home runs in the late innings, and Southern led 15-1 through 6½ innings. Needing four runs to keep the game going, Grambling scored two in the bottom of the seventh.
Grambling starter Ryan Huntington (5-2) gave up five hits and seven runs, three earned, in 1 2/3 innings.