Rain washed out a chance for Southern’s baseball team to score its third Southwestern Athletic Conference series sweep at Arkansas-Pine Bluff last weekend, but that didn’t dampen the Jaguars’ march.
The Jaguars held on to the league’s best record by thumping the Lions twice on Friday, 10-4 and 21-2. Southern (21-15, 12-2) is in control of the West Division and is ahead of East Division leader Alabama State (20-15, 14-3) by winning percentage points, .857 to .824.
Southern goes back to work at 6 p.m. Tuesday in a nonconference home game against Alcorn State at Lee-Hines Field.
The Jaguars got the first two games against Pine Bluff in with a Friday doubleheader but after day-long rain on Saturday, the Pine Bluff field was unplayable, and the window to play was limited by the absence of stadium lights.
The Jaguars pounded out 26 hits in the doubleheader and overall got good pitching. Southern jumped to a 9-0 lead in the first game and 10-0 in the second, putting the game away by the mercy rule with 11 in the seventh.
“We did pitch pretty well,” Southern coach Kerrick Jackson said. “We had some moments in the first game where (Jerome) Bohannon got inconsistent and Pine Bluff got some runs. Markaylon Boyd came in and held them down and that allowed us to finish it. (Justin) Freeman went out and pitched a seven-inning complete game.”
The six runs and 13 hits allowed in the two games combined on the road hinted at some improvement on the mound. Southern lowered its team ERA to 5.71, second-best in the SWAC. The Jaguars are already the league’s top hitting team (.307) and No. 1 in fielding.
Hunter David continues to lead the league in hitting with a .419 average but missed one of the games Friday after being hit in the thing with a pitch. Third baseman and leadoff hitter Tyler LaPorte went 7 for 10 with six runs scored and four RBIs. He is tied for second in the SWAC with 46 RBIs.
Coby Taylor had a three-run homer, his team-leading seventh, and four RBIs. Johnny Johnson went 4 for 9 with four RBIs in the two games.
“First time through the order we struggled but made some adjustments on the backside,” Jackson said of the first-game victory. “The second game we got after it pretty good and got into their bullpen. They were short of pitching.”
Jackson said the postponed game will be made up during the weekend of May 11-12 but only if it figures into the regular-season race.
Tuesday night’s game does not count in the league standings. Rather it is an attempt by Jackson to get a look at other SWAC teams in preparation for the tournament May 15-19.
“I told our guys it would be great to win the regular season, but it doesn’t mean much if you don’t win the tournament,” Jackson said. “We’ve got to work toward playing our best ball when the tournament comes around and put ourselves in position to win it and get to a regional.”
Jackson said John Guienze, who was scheduled to start Sunday’s game, or Eli Finney will start vs. Alcorn, and the rest of the game will be a “Johnny Wholestaff approach.”
Southern’s rotation for its weekend home series against Texas Southern will be Bohannon, Freeman and Guienze.