Hitting was a constant for the Southern baseball team Sunday afternoon against Texas Southern. Eventually, the Jaguars got the pitching they needed, too.
Led by two hits and five RBIs from Johnathan Evans, Southern scored six runs in its final two at-bats to rally past the Tigers 12-9 at Lee-Hines Field.
Texas Southern (11-33, 10-14 Southwestern Athletic Conference) led 8-6, but Evans changed that in the bottom of the seventh. With Taj Porter and Tremaine Spears on base, Evans blasted the second pitch from TSU reliever Brian Williams over the right-field wall.
Southern added three insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth as they finished off a series win by taking their second game of the weekend. In three games, Southern got 31 hits and scored 29 runs.
“We swung the bats well the entire weekend, surprisingly,” Southern coach Chris Crenshaw said. “We didn’t pitch too well today, but we found a way to win the game.”
Southern (15-27, 13-11) sits in third place in the SWAC Western Division standings and is guaranteed a spot in the SWAC tournament, which begins May 19 in Madison, Alabama. Seeding for the bracket hasn’t been finalized; Prairie View leads the West by one game over Grambling, and Crenshaw was unsure whether the league would have those teams make up a series that was canceled by COVID-19 concerns in March.
On Sunday, Southern showed it could power it way to a win. After giving up a run to TSU in the top of the first, the Jaguars took the lead on solo homers by Judah Wilbur and Porter.
The Tigers took a 4-2 lead in the top of the third, but Southern answered with four runs, including a three-run homer by Spears, in the bottom of the inning.
A Southern error helped TSU take the lead back, 8-6, with four runs on two hits in the sixth. Evans then came alive with his three-run shot in the seventh and a two-run double that capped off a three-run eighth.
“I was just trusting in my approach,” Evans said. “It wasn’t working for the first three at-bats, but my last two at-bats it was there.”
Texas Southern scored four runs on three hits off of Southern starter John Guienze. Wilhelm Allen took over to start the fourth inning and was effective until the sixth, when Nic Garza’s leadoff homer and Wilbur’s throwing error led to four TSU runs.
Dimitri Frank got the win after relieving Allen with one out and one man on base in the seventh. Frank induced a double-play grounder from the first batter he faced, and retired TSU in order in the eighth.
In the ninth, Enrique Ozoa gave up two hits and a run before earning the save.
“Dimitri has been solid for us all season,” Crenshaw said. “He started figuring it out last season, and it carried over into this season.”
Southern completes its regular season with a nonconference game against UL at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Lafayette.