What was that?
As we’ve all come to know, the annual Southern-Grambling series at Lee-Hines Field is typically one of the highlights of the year — not just baseball season, but the entire sports season on The Bluff.
The young men are decked out in replica Negro League uniforms. The weather usually cooperates. And to the delight of the home fans, Southern not only wins this series, but often crushes its archrival — even when Grambling has enjoyed a relatively successful season.
This, on the other hand, was a weekend unlike any other.
Sunday afternoon, the Tigers came to life in the late innings of a 7-1 victory, completing a three-game sweep of Southern in its own home park.
The mere sight of a Grambling celebration was enough to make some SU fans hold their noses as they wandered out of Lee-Hines Field.
The Jaguars looked sloppy, undisciplined, and at times, uninterested.
A look back at the good, bad and odd moments from a decidedly odd weekend:
Look long enough at the three-game series, and you’ll find some slices of good news.
——First of all, Southern got decent starting pitching in two of its three games. Jose De Leon allowed two runs in 6.1 innings Saturday, and Brian Foster gave up three earned runs in 6.1 innings Sunday.
On a normal weekend, that probably would’ve been enough to keep SU in the game, if not win it outright.
But the Jaguars were a little short in the category of run support.
Also, it’s worth nothing that freshman reliever John Thigpen had another solid outing. He took the loss in Saturday’s 13-inning game, but probably stayed on the mound for too many innings (six in all; he was relatively sharp ion his first five).
——Most importantly, it’s mid-March. Not late May. Getting swept at home is surely not a good sign. Still, the Jaguars opened Western Division play with a sweep at Texas Southern, and as the mad genius, Roger Cador, aptly put it Sunday: There’s a lot of baseball to go.
If the Jaguars are still this sloppy in two months, then yes, it’s a big problem. But for now, it’s only one weekend.
Where do we start?
——The Jaguars had way too many sloppy at-bats. During Saturday’s doubleheader, they didn’t do a great job of working the count, and Sunday, their plate discipline was suspect (swinging at pitches outside the strike zone; taking too many pitches in the strike zone; sloppiness with two strikes, etc.). As a team, they batted .206 on the weekend.
——Base running was … interesting. Four runners were caught stealing. It was much more than that, however. Derrick Hopkins was called out after umpires ruled he left second base early on a sacrifice fly (in fairness, Grambling might have gotten lucky on its appeal; Hopkins appeared to be on the bag when outfielder Brian Knuckles caught the ball). Also, in the ninth inning of Sunday’s game, Caleb Hatcher was forced out at third base after retreating to second on a ground ball.
Let’s be succinct with this one.
Grambling swept Southern in Baton Rouge. SWAC baseball records are more than a little spotty, but to the best of anyone’s memory, it’s been at least 20 years since that happened.
So … yes, that qualifies as odd.
Very, very odd.