A three-run seventh-inning along with clutch pitching down the stretch allowed Texas Southern to overcome a one-run deficit and turn it into an 8-6 series clinching win over Southern on Saturday at MacGregor Park.
Southern took a 1-0 lead in the opening frame after Isaiah Adams led the inning off with a single, moved to second on a balk and scored on a Tremaine Spears’ RBI single to left.
After struggling to get hits at the plate yesterday, TSU quickly reversed its fortunes in the first as Tyrese Clayborne opened with a single and scored on Justin Cooper’s RBI double. Oscar Ponce homered to left for a 3-1 lead and Nic Garza and Roderick Coffee reached base on a single and walk, respectively. Garza moved into scoring position on a wild pitch by SU starter John Guienze and scored on a fielder’s choice from Tyson Thompson as TSU led 4-1 entering the second.
Southern’s Judah Wilbur hit an RBI single for a 4-2 margin in the second and tied it in the third as Zavier Moore doubled down the left field line which scored two runs. The Jaguars kept the momentum in the fourth as they led the inning off with a single followed by an RBI double two batters later which forced TSU starter Adolf Castillo to exit early for Bryson Armstrong. Southern’s O’Neill Burgos singled to right for a 6-4 lead followed by a Taj Porter walk but Armstrong would get a big strikeout. However, a TSU fielding error loaded the bases but Armstrong would force a fielder’s choice with the pressure building to get out the inning down two runs.
Coffee reached on an SU error to open the fourth as SU reliever Joseph Battaglia III began his second inning after entering in the top of the second. Tyson Thompson would draw a walk and both Coffee and Thompson moved over a base after a Jordan Vidato ground out which was as well-executed as a sac bunt. Ruben Bennevendo would draw TSU to within 6-5 on a sac fly which scored Coffee.
Armstrong would hold SU scoreless over the next three innings and TSU would reward his efforts in the seventh as Avery Chatman hit a one out single to center and stole second. Clayborne would hit a big RBI triple to center to score Chatman and tie the game but was tagged out at third as the SU third baseman caught him off base for the second out. Despite the emotional letdown, Cooper followed with a single, stole second and scored on Ponce’s RBI single to right center. Nic Garza followed with a double to left to score Ponce as TSU upped its lead to 8-6.
TSU turned to Alex Olguin to open the eighth and he forced two quick outs but ran into trouble as SU reached on a TSU error followed by a walk. However, Olguin would force an inning-ending out to left to get out the jam. After a scoreless eighth by TSU, Olguin would take matters into his own hands as he opened the inning with a strikeout, fly out to right followed by a game-ending strikeout for the save.
Garza led a hit parade for TSU with a 3-for-4 performance which included a run and RBI. Clayborne, Cooper and Ponce all had two hits apiece as Ponce also led TSU with three RBI and two runs.
Armstrong improved to 2-3 on the season as he earned the win in relief while Olguin picked up his first save on the season.
TSU is back in action on Tuesday at Kansas for a two-game series which concludes on Wednesday.