This time, there was no big, late comeback by the Southern Jaguars, and that cost them what would have been an advantageous position in the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament Friday at Wesley Barrow Stadium.
The Jaguars fell to Texas Southern 8-6 late Friday night after starting off with an early lead, then seeing the Tigers surge past them and hold them off.
Instead of clinching a spot in Sunday's championship game, Southern has to return for a 3 p.m. Saturday rematch against the Tigers, whom they beat 10-9 in 10 innings on Thursday night.
“We got out-competed,” Jaguars coach Kerrick Jackson said. “They wanted it more than we did. They had seven of their nine leadoff runners get on base. We couldn't throw strikes; we couldn't put up (shutout innings), and then we let a guy who threw 140 pitches on Wednesday, threw another 20 today, come out and throw another 80 or so here.”
That guy was Texas Southern pitcher Aaron Solis, who came into Friday night's game as a reliever.
TSU scored three runs in the sixth to take a 7-5 lead, then brought Solis, the staff ace. The Jaguars scored a run in the seventh, though, when Ashanti Wheatley scored from third on Hampton Hudson's groundout.
Southern, the West Division's No. 1 seed, had a chance in the bottom of the eighth, too, when center fielder Javeyan Williams led off with a double — but he was stranded.
Solis then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to end the game.
Texas Southern's victory was its second of the day. TSU topped Jackson State earlier Friday to keep alive its hopes of a SWAC tourney three-peat.
Solis got the game's final two outs to seal the victory.
Texas Southern coach Michael Roberston said relief pitcher Noe Guerrero III, who allowed one run on five hits in 4⅓ innings, played a role that couldn't be overlooked.
“He came in an pitched big innings in the early going and settled things down and gave our offense a chance to work and gave our guys a chance to make plays,” Robertson said. “He came in and threw strikes.”
The Jaguars took command early, scoring four runs in the bottom of the first to take a 4-1 lead. Wheatley lined a sharp single to left that scored Johnny Johnson from second. Hunter David singled with two outs, scoring Wheatley. Coby Taylor drew a bases-loaded walk, scoring Bobby Johnson, and David scored on a wild pitch.
A one-out homer by Taylor in the fourth gave the Jaguars a 5-3 lead. However, the Tigers scored on a groundout in the fifth, and then came the fateful sixth.
“We had opportunities to advance runners, and we didn't do it,” Jackson said. “We had a runners picked off first base. We just didn't play well.”