Hunter Hudson hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 10th inning and Southern pulled out an improbable 10-9 victory against Texas Southern in the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament Thursday at Wesley Barrow Stadium.
The Jaguars, the West Division's No. 1 seed, trailed two-time reigning tournament champion Texas Southern by four runs entering the bottom of the eighth. The victory puts Southern one win from reaching the championship game.
The Jaguars will play at 6 p.m. Friday against the winner of the noon game between Texas Southern and Jackson State.
“It comes down to the fact that our team has had resolve all year long,” second-year coach Kerrick Jackson said. “That is our fourth walk-off win off the year. I think the key for us was just getting to their bullpen. We knew from playing them earlier in the season that once they got to their bullpen, they weren't as good as they are with their starters.”
Things certainly didn't look good for Southern. The Jaguars trailed 9-5 after Texas Southern's O.J. Oloruntimilehim led off the top of the ninth with a home run. However, the Jaguars rallied for four runs in the bottom of the inning, tying the score.
Ashanti Wheatley answered Oloruntimilehim's homer by leading off with one to left, and shortstop Malik Blaise reached first with a one-out infield hit. Hampton Hudson hit a two-out single to center field, and designated hitter Coby Taylor — who had struck out with the bases loaded in the seventh — followed with a sharp single to right, scoring Blaise.
After a wild pitch advanced both runners, Javeyan Williams hit a two-run single to right, tying the score.
After Jaguars reliever Connor Whalen allowed one hit but no runs in the top of the 10th, Southern catcher Bobby Johnson got things started with a one-out single to left field. Shortstop Malik Blaise then blooped a double to shallow right.
Dangerous hitter Tyler LaPorte was walked intentionally, loading the bases and giving the Tigers double-play possibilities everywhere. It also set the stage for Hudson, who has become known for clutch hits this season.
Hudson lifted a high fly to deep left. Williams Nelson, pinch-running for Johnson, tagged and raced home, and the Jaguars poured onto the field.
Trailing 8-5 in the seventh, Southern had loaded the bases. But Coby Taylor struck out against reliever Robert Loza.
Texas Southern broke loose for four runs in the third inning to take a 6-1 lead. The Tigers had four hits in the inning, but were aided by a hit batter, a balk and an error, the Jaguars' third of the game to that point.
Southern battled back, though, in the bottom of the third. LaPorte scored on second baseman Johnny Johnson's sacrifice fly, and Blaise singled in Wheatley from third.
When Taylor led off the bottom of the fourth with a home run to right field, Southern was back within striking distance at 6-4.
The Tigers then answered immediately, with Garza's one-out single bringing in Hollins in the fifth, restoring the lead three, 7-4. Texas Southern made it 8-4 when Suarez scored from third, still with one out, on a wild pitch by John Guienze.