Playing in extra innings for the first time in conference play this season, Southern crossed home two runs in the 10th and held off a late TSU charge in a 5-3 decision Friday at MacGregor Park.
Southern generated three hits from their lineup against TSU, who themselves compiled just six, which was the second-least made in a game during conference play this season. The most action both teams saw on the base paths was their walking tendencies as they recorded a total of 17 walks in the game’s 10 innings (Southern with eight and TSU nine).
For all that it was worth, the first one-third of the game transpired in a tight stalemate as both teams generated little offense in response to the adept pitching of starters TSU’s Brian Williams and SU’s Jerome Bohannon II. Williams conceded just one hit in his first four innings of work whereas Bohannon gave up two in his first three.
But it was within the game’s second third that its tempo spiraled into a frenzy as a wild pitch thrown by Bohannon during the bottom of the fourth within a bases-loaded jam ushered in TSU’s 1-0 lead.
Southern immediately tied the game in the fifth with a Zavier Moore solo home run to left field. That play eventually became a harbinger for Southern’s continued momentum as they scored two additional runs in the sixth–all without generating hits in that span.
Williams, who struck out eight batters by the fifth inning, reached his physical limit on the mound as he allowed two Southern runners to be in scoring position in the sixth. He conceded a Taj Porter sacrifice fly to left field to hand Southern the lead at 2-1. The Bryan, Texas native hit a batsmen and walked two others–growing TSU’s deficit to 3-1–before getting pulled by head coach Michael Robertson for Adam Dearinger to end the issue.
Even so, the Tigers managed to march back as they tied the game at 3-3 during the bottom of the seventh inning. Southern pulled Bohannon for reliever Dimitri Frank after he loaded the bases with one out on the board. He was handed the ball to face TSU’s hottest batter in Oscar Ponce, who showed his worth with a 2-RBI single to right-center field on a 1-2 pitch.
Staying in the seventh, Texas Southern flirted with inflicting further damage on the Jaguars when Roderick Coffee stepped into the box with one out and the bases loaded, but a hard lineout towards Frank who then threw the ball to third for a double play abruptly silenced their threat.
After a pair of scoreless innings by both teams, that all changed in the top of the 10th as TSU allowed a pair of walks which forced another change on the mound as Alex Olguin came in from the bullpen. The game would change quickly as Olguin threw wide on a pickoff attempt towards second which set Southern up to be in prime scoring position. Two batters later, Tremaine Spears broke the deadlock by driving a sharp hit down the left-field line for a double, scoring two runs in the process for a 5-3 Southern lead.
In the bottom of the 10th, the Tigers attempted a last-ditch rally when Coffee and Tyson Thompson reached base on a single and walk in succession. Sensing a chance to turn the game for good, Robertson sent in Dean Salazar and Michael Zamora to pinch-hit against closer Enrique Ozoa, but both were eventually punched out by the right-handed sophomore, signaling the end of a tense but exciting game.
Ponce and Coffee hit for a combined five of the team’s six hits for the game. Ponce extended his hitting streak to seven games by pocketing two more against Southern and having two RBIs as well. As the five-hole in TSU’s lineup, Coffee obtained three hits, a career-high in one game, in his five plate appearances.
Williams was supported by a trio of relievers after exiting by the 5.2-inning mark with two allowed hits, three earned runs (of which he obtained after leaving runners to Dearinger), five walks, and eight strikeouts. Dearinger completed his outing with 1.1 innings pitched on one walk and one strikeout. Olguin recorded one strikeout and one hit in his appearance in the 10th frame.
Ozoa earned his fourth save of the season off his showing in the tenth, recording three strikeouts and a walk at the cost of the Tigers.
Texas Southern will play the rubber match with Southern University for the conclusion of their three-game series on Saturday, April 3 at 1 p.m. in MacGregor Park.