As was the case all weekend, Southern didn’t play its best baseball on Sunday, but the Jaguars still found a way to finish off a sweep of Southwestern Athletic Conference rival Grambling.
Southern was forced to use six pitchers but relied on a 16-hit attack at the plate to carry the Jaguars to a 13-8 win over the Tigers at Lee-Hines Field.
Winning in any fashion was good enough for Southern coach Kerrick Jackson.
“Any time you can win, it's a good thing,” Jackson said. “Any time you can win in conference it's better, and any time you get a sweep in conference, it's the best thing. It's even sweeter when you can sweep your biggest rival.”
Southern (14-9, 8-1 SWAC) trailed 8-4 after Grambling scored four runs in the top of the fifth inning. The Jaguars answered with five runs in their half of the inning and added two runs each in the seventh and eighth innings.
“I think it was a lot of resolve by our hitters, because they bailed our pitchers out all weekend,” Jackson said after his team strengthened its grip on the SWAC Western Division by sweeping Grambling, who came into the weekend in second place.
The top of the Southern batting order did its part with a combined to 11 hits and six RBIs. Three Jaguars – Johnny Johnson, Hampton Hudson and Javeyan Williams — had three RBIs apiece.
The production was needed after starter Jacob Snyder and reliever Eli Finney gave up seven hits and seven runs over the first five innings.
“For whatever reason, our pitchers were snake-bit all weekend,” Jackson said. “We did not get one quality start out of our starters.”
Southern was able to cobble together effective pitching in the last four innings, when it held Grambling (10-13, 7-5) to two hits and one run. Both of the hits came off Connor Whalen, who pitched the final two innings for the second consecutive day.
Austin Haensel (1-0), Southern’s third pitcher, threw a scoreless sixth inning but was pulled after issuing a walk and hitting a batter to start the seventh. He was charged with one run but still picked up the win.
Grambling catcher Drexler Macaay paced the Tigers with two home runs and three RBIs.
Tigers starter Ryan Huntington allowed up seven hits and four runs in 3 1/3 innings. Kaelin Woodard (0-2) came on in the fourth and lasted 1 1/3 innings. He walked three batters, gave up four runs and two hits and was saddled with the loss.
Southern plays two mid-week games, at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at UNO and at 6 p.m. at home against Northwestern State in a makeup from a game rained out in Natchitoches early in the season. The Jaguars return to SWAC play Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Lee-Hines Field against Prairie View.