Southern’s Friday night loss to Prairie View didn’t sit well with Jaguars baseball coach Kerrick Jackson.
His team’s response had him smiling after Saturday’s impromptu doubleheader.
The Jaguars hammered the Panthers 26-4 in the first game, then played an all-around solid 8-5 victory to score a sweep and take their fourth consecutive Southwestern Athletic Conference series at Lee-Hines Field.
Sunday’s game was moved to Saturday because of the threat of rain.
Hunter David knocked in three runs and the Jaguars' bullpen worked out of three bases-loaded situations in the nightcap as Southern (15-11, 10-2) remained atop the Western Division halfway through the league schedule. In the first game, three Jaguars knocked in four runs apiece as the conference’s top hitting team asserted itself against the Panthers (9-20, 5-7).
“I cautioned them to not sleep on these guys,” Jackson said. “Friday we kind of took them for granted and they got up on us early.
“I challenged them to come out in Game 1 today and send a message and that’s what they did. ‘Hey, this is who we are and what we’re about.’ And it carried over to Game 2."
Southern fell behind in the first inning of the series finale on a two-run homer by Alex Martinez but battled and ultimately collected 15 hits while scoring in five different innings.
It could have been a different ballgame had SU relievers Brett Hebert and Wilhelm Allen not worked out of bases-loaded, no-out jams in the fourth and seventh innings, respectively, each allowing only one run.
Southern closer Connor Whalen then had to work out of a bases-loaded jam in of his own making but pitched around three walks for his league-leading eighth save.
“That’s what I told both those guys and our team,” Jackson said. “We’re not trying to keep runs from scoring. We’re trying to minimize the damage. They did a great job only one run scoring and neither balls were laced."
Prairie View rallied to tied the game at 3 before Ashanti Wheatley gave the home team the lead for good with a two-run homer off Panthers starter Tyler Laux. A sacrifice fly by David, the league’s leading hitter, and a run-scoring single in the eighth by Javeyan Williams gave Southern some breathing room late.
Shortstop Malik Blaise had four hits and scored three runs.
In the first game, the Jaguars pounded five Prairie View pitchers for 20 hits, and also took advantage of 11 walks and five hit batters. Williams and Bobby Johnson each had three hits and four RBIs, while Tyler LaPorte knocked in four with a single and a bases-loaded double.
David raised his league-leading batting average to .470 by going five for six with five RBIs and seven runs scored combined. Jackson said moving him from catcher to first base has been a boost for him and the team.
“The way he plays first, I’m more comfortable with it,” Jackson said. “We get more offensive production from him instead of having him squat for two games. It’s not a coincidence we’ve seen a rise in his production with extra-base hits now that we’ve moved him to first.”