MADISON, Ala. — A magical run at the Southwestern Athletic Conference baseball tournament for Southern got a magical finish Sunday, with the Jaguars' O'Neill Burgos hitting a three-run home run in the ninth inning to beat Jackson State 7-6 in the tournament championship game.
Jackson State was 24-0 in SWAC play in the regular season and had won its first three SWAC tournament games, but Southern won when it counted in the teams' first meeting of the season.
Burgos' homer went over the outstretched glove of JSU left fielder Jatavious Melton, who leapt at the fence and crashed through the apparently unlocked gate into Southern's bullpen. Melton was OK and the ball was clearly over the fence, so Burgos had given Southern the lead.
CRAZY finish at the SWAC baseball championship.— Fletcher Mackel (@FletcherWDSU) May 23, 2021
Down two in the 9th, Southern Jags DH O'Neill Burgos blasts a 3-run home run to give SU the lead....or did he?
He did...but WATCH how crazy this play is.
Southern wins SWAC, automatic berth into NCAA Tournament.
🎥 = ESPN+ pic.twitter.com/RZe70k6ooL
After Burgos' heroics in the top of the ninth, Southern closer Enrique Ozoa worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth to seal the victory for the Jaguars (20-28), who advance to an NCAA regional and the inaugural HBCU World Series next week.
The HBCU series is scheduled next Friday-Sunday at the Hank Aaron Sports Academy in Jackson, Mississippi, where Southern will meet Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament champion Norfolk State in a best-of-three series.
The NCAA regional field will be announced May 31.
It's Southern's second straight tournament title — the Jaguars beat Alabama State in the 2019 final, and there was no tournament in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic — and 28th overall.
Jackson State (34-9) took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning against Southern starter John Guienze, but the Jaguars answered in the second. Isaiah Adams' bases-loaded single brought home one run, AJ Walter scored on a wild pitch and Southern took a 3-2 lead when Burgos was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded again.
But the Tigers dominated the middle innings, striking for two runs to retake the lead in the fourth and single runs in the fifth and sixth to make it 6-3. But Southern's bullpen shut JSU down the rest of the way, with Mykel Page, Dimitri Frank and Ozoa combining to allow just one unearned run in four innings with five strikeouts and no walks.
Southern cut the lead to 6-4 on Zavier Moore's solo homer in the eighth, and then Jovante Dorris singled and Judah Wilbur walked to lead off the ninth and set up Burgos.
Before their 2019 title, the Jaguars hadn't won a SWAC tournament title since 2009, but their 28 titles are 12 more than any other SWAC team.