BR.alcornsouthern.052222 MJ 004.JPG

Southern University runner Nathaniel Lai (33) slides into third safely as Alcorn third baseman Tyler Daniels (3) bobbles the throw in the bottom of the first inning of the season final at Lee-Hines Stadium on Saturday, May 21, 2022 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Southern University defeated Alcorn 9-1 after 6 innings in a weather shortened game.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — For the Southern baseball team, the wait was worth it.

Sophomore outfielder J.J. Rollon delivered a sacrifice fly to left to break a tie in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Jaguars outlasted Jackson State 8-7 in the opening round of the SWAC tournament at Regions Field.

It was a game that was rescheduled five times with the first pitch coming 24 hours and 15 minutes after it was initially set.

And Southern will clock in for an early shift Friday as the weather-delayed tournament will play at two venues as it tries to get back on schedule. The Jaguars will be back at Regions Field at 9 a.m., taking on Florida A&M, a 5-4 winner over Prairie View on Wednesday.

At the same time, Jackson State will face Prairie View at nearby Young Memorial Field on the campus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

While Southern only played one game, it had hung around the field for much of the past day, including a 9 a.m. arrival Thursday.

“We were preparing for the 11 o'clock start,” Rollon said. “Then we had to pack our stuff up (and) go back to the hotel. Then coach told us we had to be here (for a game at 3) so we came at around 1:30, sat around and then we hit in the cage for about 30 minutes.”

And then there was Wednesday’s wait, arriving at 3 before leaving at 8 p.m.

“We were here at 5 o'clock waiting to play at 7,” Rollon said. “We waited, got on the field to warm up and the same thing. They pulled the tarp on.”

Coach Chris Crenshaw said his team was anxious to play and then fell behind 4-1 through two innings on Thursday. Starting pitcher Joseph Battaglia said he had to bear down when his usually reliable defense faltered.

“I was able to do that to eliminate the really big inning,” Battaglia said. “From there on out, I just kind of got to feel of the mound, got a feel for the lineup and then I started working my off-speed a little bit more in there and had them really off balance.”

Crenshaw said his team’s slow start wasn’t totally unexpected.

“I've been with them all year so I know who they are and what's gonna happen,” he said. “We were resilient, kept fighting and found a way in the end.”

The comeback began with a three-run third inning in which O’Neill Burgos belted a solo homer and Taj Porter followed with a two-run blast.

The Jaguars (25-29 and the top seed from the West) plated two runs in the seventh inning and one in the eighth to set the stage for the dramatics in the bottom of the ninth. Porter was hit by a pitch and replaced by freshman Jalon Mack, who went to third on a double by sophomore Hunter Tabb.

Battaglia (8-4) went eight innings before giving way to Enrique Ozoa, who got the win. Nikelle Galatas went seven innings for the Tigers, notching a season-high 11 strikeouts.

Juan Marulanda took the loss for Jackson State, giving up two hits and two runs in 1 2/3 innings. Battaglia said the dramatic comeback will be a welcome boost for his squad.

“Oh, it's huge,” he said. “That's momentum and that's the stuff that we work hard for all year. You know nothing's gonna come easy, especially in the SWAC tournament. When it comes to the ninth (inning), I think the Jaguars play the best baseball.”