Another shocker: Valley eliminates Southern 2-1, advances to SWAC title game

It’s all over for the Southern baseball team.

On a steaming-hot Friday afternoon at the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament, the Jaguars managed only three hits and stranded leadoff runners in the final three innings of a shocking 2-1 loss to Mississippi Valley State, which clinched a spot in the championship game at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Southern (33-16) wasted a spectacular pitching performance from senior right-hander Brian Foster — who received his degree in pre-med earlier Friday morning, while the Jaguars staved off elimination with a stirring 8-6 win against Alcorn State.

In the afternoon game, Foster went eight innings, allowing two runs on four hits. He walked seven and struck out nine, escaping a handful of jams in 150 pitches.

Valley (17-38) — which finished fourth in the Eastern Division and entered the tournament on a nine-game losing streak — scored a two-out run in the first inning, then went up 2-0 when Edmund Cheatham came home from third on a wild pitch.

The Jaguars pulled to within one, 2-1, in the sixth inning, when Tyler Kirksey doubled and scored on B.J. Rowry’s sacrifice fly.

Southern, the Western Division champion, had two runners on base with two outs in the ninth, but Valley escaped when DeMario Ellis grounded out to third base.

The Jaguars finished the regular season on a 16-game winning streak, but their bats disappeared when the tournament arrived.

The Jaguars had only 22 hits in four games.

Valley awaits the winner between Texas Southern and Prairie View.

Starting lineups for the Southern-Valley game; follow us on Twitter

We’re about to get under way (again) this afternoon here at the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament, and guess what? Brian Foster is about to take the mound for Southern in its second game of the day.

The Jaguars must defeat Mississippi Valley State here at Lee-Hines Field. If Southern wins, it will face the Delta Devils again at noon Saturday for a berth in Sunday’s championship game.

Foster wasn’t in uniform for this morning’s thrilling 8-6 victory over Alcorn State, during which the Jaguars rallied late and held off the Braves in the ninth inning.

Foster, a senior right-hander, has already been through a lot today. While his teammates fought off elimination, Foster, a pre-med major, took part in SU’s spring commencement ceremony across the parking lot at the F.G. Activity Center.

For in-game updates, follow us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/perrynkeys). Here are the starting lineups.

SOUTHERN (33-15)
1. Tyler Kirksey, LF (.143)
2. B.J. Rowry, 1B (.301)
3. Kevin Williams, DH (.324)
4. Cameron McGriff, 3B (.339)
5. D.J. Wallace, RF (.349)
6. Wilmy Marrero, CF (.276)
7. DeMario Ellis, 2B (.294)
8. Clint Ourso, C (.227)
9. Jeremy Lopez, SS (.250)
SP: Brian Foster, RHP (8-1, 3.34)

MISSISSIPPI VALLEY (16-38)
1. Edmund Cheatham, 2B (.299)
2. Luke Brumfield, SS (.220)
3. Michael Lowe, CF (.282)
4. Seth Milliorn, 3B (.256)
5. Joe Germaine, 1B (.256)
6. Allen Cheek, RF (.196)
7. Billy Linney, LF (.200)
8. Candler Thomas, DH (.232)
9. Nikolas Fangonilo, C (.197)
SP: Trey Lacy, LHP (1-9, 7.77)

Jaguars hold on to eliminate Alcorn 8-6, advance to face Valley at 3:30 p.m. Friday

The Southern baseball team will play again.

Friday morning in an elimination game at the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament, the Jaguars rallied for five runs in the seventh and eighth innings, and three freshman relievers — John Thigpen, Pedro Fargas and Santos Saldivar — held on for dear life in an 8-6 victory over Alcorn State, eliminating the Braves.

Meanwhile, Southern (33-15) must get out of the heat, rest up, chug water by the gallon and prepare for a 3:30 p.m. game against surprising Mississippi Valley State, which upset the Jaguars 6-4 on the first day of this tournament, then outlasted Alcorn on Thursday afternoon in 12 innings.

Also on Friday, Texas Southern unloaded on Jackson State for an 11-1 mercy-rule victory in 11 innings, eliminating JSU from the tournament.

In Friday morning’s game, SU had only six hits and was often too aggressive at the plate, but got into the Braves bullpen to take a 6-5 lead in the seventh.

Southern added three more runs in the bottom of the eighth to take an 8-5 lead.

The Jaguars had to bite their nails through the top of the ninth, however, as Fargas hit one batter and walked two more, forcing Roger Cador to use Saldivar.

Alcorn scored once on a sacrifice fly and loaded the bases again, putting the go-ahead run at first.

On a full count, Saldivar struck out Joshua Powell looking (the Braves were furious about the call).

More to come.

Starting lineups for the Southern-Alcorn game; follow us on Twitter

We’re about to get under way this morning at Lee-Hines Field, where — surprise! — Southern baseball coach Roger Cador has already made a change.

For this elimination game against Alcorn State in the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament at Lee-Hines Field, he’ll start right-hander Daniel Garcia, who threw 1.1 relief innings in Wednesday’s 6-4 loss to Mississippi Valley.

The Jaguars — who don’t have Brian Foster this morning; the senior is graduating across the parking lot at the F.G. Activity Center — initially planned to start one of two freshman left-handers, Pedro Fargas or John Thigpen.

The winner will advance to face undefeated Mississippi Valley State at 3 p.m. Friday, attempting to grab two victories in one day.

For in-game updates, follow us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/perrynkeys). Here are the starting lineups.

ALCORN STATE (18-36)
1. Justin Barney, CF (.278)
2. Antolin Morales, 3B (.176)
3. Eduardo Gonzalez, RF (.336)
4. Rodney Warren, 1B (.308)
5. Jann Butler, LF (.325)
6. Angel Rosa, DH (.298)
7. Gabriel LeBron, C (.208)
8. Christian Hickman, SS (.298)
9. Devin Dukes, 2B (.258)
P: Cedric Pomerlee, LHP (0-5, 6.58)

SOUTHERN (32-15)
1. Tyler Kirksey, LF (.143)
2. B.J. Rowry, 1B (.301)
3. Kevin Williams, DH (.324)
4. Cameron McGriff, 3B (.339)
5. D.J. Wallace, RF (.349)
6. Wilmy Marrero, CF (.276)
7. DeMario Ellis, 2B (.294)
8. Clint Ourso, C (.227)
9. Jeremy Lopez, SS (.250)
SP: Daniel Garcia, RHP (3-2, 4.50)

Jaguars eliminate Grambling 8-0, advance to Friday morning game vs. Alcorn

The Southern baseball team will play at least one more day.

In an elimination game Thursday morning at Lee-Hines Field, the Jaguars took advantage of seven Grambling errors, and right-hander Jose De Leon fired a complete-game shutout in an 8-0 victory.

Southern (32-15) will play at 9 a.m. Friday against Alcorn State, which lost a 7-6 stunner in 12 innings to surprising Mississippi Valley State on Thursday.

Thursday morning against Grambling (22-26), their offense wasn’t exceptional; Southern managed only two infield hits through the first five innings against former Christian Life standout Matt Mitchell (6-4). But the Jaguars scored once in the first and three times in the fourth, thanks in large part to three Grambling errors. Southern added three more runs in the eighth to take a 7-0 lead. That allowed Roger Cador to stick with De Leon.

The Puerto Rican sophomore wasn’t at his best Thursday, but he found a way to keep the Tigers’ SWAC-leading offense in check, throwing 127 pitches as he labored on the mound.

De Leon allowed seven hits and three walks. He also struck out eight batters, giving him 103 strikeouts for the season — a single-season record for a Roger Cador-coached pitcher.

So the season continues.

More to come.

Lineups for the Southern-Grambling elimination game; follow us on Twitter

We’re about to get under way this morning at Lee-Hines Field, where — surprise! — Southern and Grambling are squaring off in an elimination game in the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament.

The Jaguars, of course, lost a 6-4 shocker to Mississippi Valley State on the first day. Grambling lost to Alcorn State, 6-2, on Wednesday.

For in-game updates, follow us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/perrynkeys). Here are the starting lineups.

SOUTHERN (31-15)
1. Tyler Kirksey, LF (.143)
2. B.J. Rowry, 1B (.301)
3. Derrick Hopkins, DH (.350)
4. Cameron McGriff, 3B (.339)
5. D.J. Wallace, RF (.349)
6. Wilmy Marrero, CF (.276)
7. DeMario Ellis, 2B (.294)
8. Clint Ourso, C (.227)
9. Jeremy Lopez, SS (.250)
SP: Jose De Leon, RHP (7-3, 2.95)

GRAMBLING (22-25)
1. Chris Wolfe, SS (.321)
2. Brian Knuckles, DH (.283)
3. Thomas Brown, 3B (.412)
4. Jose Longoria, C (.338)
5. Darren Farmer, LF (.315)
6. Elias Todman, 2B (.347)
7. Hector Mejias, 1B (.264)
8. Edwin Drexler, CF (.235)
9. Kris Minter, RF (.207)
SP: Matt Mitchell, RHP (6-3, 3.58)

An early wakeup call here for both teams. Let’s get it on.

Looking ahead after a shocking first day at the SWAC tournament

We’re finished with the first day of the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament at Lee-Hines Field, and we’ve had one stunner in four games.

Tip of the cap goes to Mississippi Valley State. Shake of the head goes to Southern — the host team, the team that came in with a 16-game winning streak, the presumptive tournament favorite.

The Jaguars lost, 6-4. Oops.

They face Grambling in an elimination game at 9 a.m. Thursday, and to survive for at least one more day, here’s what they’ll need:

Jose De Leon must dominate, and in all likelihood, he must go deep. The sophomore right-hander has overpowering stuff when he’s on, and he has developed a slider and circle changeup to go with a very effective fastball. De Leon already holds the Southern single-season record for strikeouts (95), but he’ll have to keep his pitch count down. The Jaguars need five wins in four days, and to get there, they’ll need a relatively well-rested bullpen. De Leon’s assignment is tough: Grambling has the SWAC’s best offense.

The offense has to wake up. As Roger Cador said after Wednesday’s debacle, the Jaguars didn’t have many great at-bats against a suspect Mississippi Valley team. They had only a few line drives, and the Devils caught them all for outs. Worse yet, Southern often failed to lengthen their at-bats, bailing out pitchers with weak swings on 2-0 and 2-1 counts. The Jaguars have a good offense. But they need a better, more focused approach at the plate.

Southern must find a way to rebound. Don’t let a team beat you twice. This, to some degree, is a football axiom that rarely applies to baseball — especially college baseball. But in this case, it applies. The Jaguars took a 4-0 lead on Valley and thought they had it in the bag. Then, everything — their lead, their 16-game winning streak, their spot in the winner’s bracket — went up in smoke. Now, Southern has a quick turnaround, a 9 a.m. game against Grambling. If the Jaguars are still dwelling on that Valley loss — or if they’re overwhelmed by the thought of winning five times in four days — they’re doomed.

We shall see.

A reset of where we are in the tournament:

WEDNESDAY
Alcorn State 6, Grambling 2
Mississippi Valley State 6, Southern 4
Prairie View 14, Alabama State 4
Jackson State 7, Texas Southern 0

THURSDAY
Elimination games:
Southern (31-15) vs. Grambling (22-25), 9 a.m.
Alabama State (20-35) vs. Texas Southern (23-27), noon
Winners’ games:
Alcorn State (18-35) vs. Mississippi Valley State (15-38), 3 p.m.
Prairie View (25-22) vs. Jackson State (34-15), 6 p.m.

 

Disaster strikes early: Valley rallies to stun Jaguars, 6-4

Disaster has struck for the Southern baseball team on the first day of the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament.

Wednesday afternoon at Lee-Hines Field, the Jaguars took a four-run lead into the eighth inning against Mississippi Valley State — but their bullpen fell apart as the Delta Devils rallied to tie the score, then pull ahead in the ninth for a shocking 6-4 victory, sending SU to an elimination game against Grambling.

The Jaguars and Tigers square off at 9 a.m. Thursday at Lee-Hines Field.

The loser of that game is finished.

Southern came into this tournament, in its own ballpark, on a 16-game winning streak, one of the favorites to win it and claim a spot in the NCAA regionals.

Now, the Jaguars (31-15), the Western Division champion, must win four straight times — once Thursday, twice Friday and once Saturday — to reach Sunday’s championship game.

Earlier Wednesday, Alcorn rallied to drop Grambling, 6-2, and Prairie View rallied to crush Alabama State, 14-4.

More to come.

The tournament begins

Tuesday morning, the tarp was off the diamond at Southern University, where young ballplayers and event staff spent much of the day preparing Lee-Hines Field for the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament.

Eight teams were pulling into town, and Barret Rey’s ballclub from Alcorn State was one of them. Rey sported a grin as the Braves’ practice ended. Sunlight bounced off his shiny bald head.

The weather is lovely — and if the forecasters are correct, it’ll stay that way through the weekend. By Sunday, we’ll crown a champion.

As Rey and the Braves geared up to face Grambling at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Rey confirmed he’d send his ace, Steve Easter, to the mound.

Said Rey, whose team won last year’s tournament in Shreveport: “I’m not going to change anything. I learned that from (Roger) Cador.”

Here we go.

After three-plus months of college baseball, the SWAC tournament begins Wednesday here in Baton Rouge, and we’ll got you covered. (C’mon; we’re The Advocate. Did you expect anything less?)

We’ll tweet and blog updates throughout the day, and we’ll live-tweet the Southern-Valley game, which (hopefully) gets under way at 3 p.m.

Follow us here, at twitter.com/perrynkeys.

For now, here is one man’s opinion on each team’s chances at winning the tournament:

1W) SOUTHERN
They’ve won 16 in a row. They’ve got all the ingredients. They’re at home. Can they execute in the clutch? Can they handle the pressure? We’re about to find out.
Odds: 4-1.

2W) PRAIRIE VIEW
The Panthers led the Western Division for much of this season. You cannot discount what they’ve done. Then again, they don’t lead the SWAC in any major statistical category.
Odds: 10-1.

3W) GRAMBLING
Please excuse the well-worn boxing term, but these guys have the puncher’s chance. Their offense is best in the conference. If they get a few pitching gems, watch out.
Odds: 8-1.

4W) TEXAS SOUTHERN
Keep in mind that this is the SWAC tournament, and that almost anything can happen. TSU has been a tough cookie, and Michael Robertson has won it before. Are these Tigers a longshot? Sure.
Odds: 20-1.

1E) JACKSON STATE
It’s the strangest thing: Each year, JSU has a great pitching staff, and its offense puts a lot of pressure on the infield. But the Tigers keep flaming out. Is this their year? Could be.
Odds: 10-1.

2E) ALCORN STATE
The reigning champions suffered through a brutal 3-17 start. But they’ve got a potent lineup — and as Barret Rey said, if their starters are on, this could get interesting.
Odds: 8-1.

3E) ALABAMA STATE
These guys are, if nothing else, intriguing. In their first year under Mervyl Melendez, the Hornets are better. But you get the sense that they’ll be really, really good … a year from now.
Odds: 30-1.

4E) MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE
No disrespect intended here. But if the Delta Devils defeat Southern on Wednesday, that’s a major, major upset. Don’t bank on it. They’re the fourth-best team in the East.
Odds: 50-1.

Good news for SWAC tournament: It never rains at Lee-Hines Field

OK, so maybe we’re tempting fate here. Maybe we’re teasing the baseball gods a little.

But the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament begins Wednesday at Lee-Hines Field, and if our friends at the National Weather Service are correct, we should should be in the clear all week.

Here’s the forecast for Baton Rouge, from Wednesday through Sunday:

Tuesday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 63. Calm wind.

Wednesday: Partly sunny, with a high near 87. Calm wind becoming north around 5 mph. Wednesday night: Mostly clear, with a low around 61. North wind around 5 mph becoming calm.

Thursday: Sunny, with a high near 90. Thursday night: Mostly clear, with a low around 62.

Friday: Sunny, with a high near 91. Friday night: Mostly clear, with a low around 64.

Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 87. Saturday night: Mostly clear, with a low around 67.

Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 88. Sunday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 65.

Monday: Sunny, with a high near 88.

The last time the SWAC baseball tournament came to Baton Rouge, rain suspended play on the third night of the tournament, and a day later, Southern needed 4 hours and 32 minutes to outlast Grambling in a 12-inning thriller. The Jaguars had to make a quick turnaround for Sunday’s championship game, when they defeated Alcorn State.

The year before, in 2008, a storm blew through town on the first day of the tournament, forcing organizers to play catch-up on the second day (they considered using Pete Goldsby Field or the old Alex Box Stadium, but ultimately didn’t use either).

This time, it appears that the gods have spared Lee-Hines.

Of course, it’s south Louisiana, so you never know for sure.

ALSO …
In case you missed it, here’s the schedule for this week’s tournament. You’ve got two double-elimination brackets, followed by a single-game championship on Sunday:

BRACKET A
Grambling, Alcorn State, Misssippi Valley State, Southern
BRACKET B
Alabama State, Prairie View, Texas Southern, Jackson State

Wednesday
Game 1: Grambling vs. Alcorn State, 9 a.m.
Game 2: Alabama State vs. Prairie View, noon
Game 3: Mississippi Valley State vs. Southern, 3 p.m.
Game 4: Texas Southern vs. Jackson State, 6 p.m.

Thursday
Game 5: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 3, 9 a.m.
Game 6: Loser Game 2 vs. Loser Game 4, noon
Game 7: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 3, 3 p.m.
Game 8: Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 4, 6 p.m.

Friday
Game 9: Loser Game 7 vs. Winner Game 5, 9 a.m.
Game 10: Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 8, noon
Game 11: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 9, 3 p.m.
Game 12: Winner Game 10 vs. Winner Game 8, 6 p.m.

Saturday
Game 11A: Winner Game 11 vs. Loser Game 11, noon, if necessary
Game 12A: Winner Game 12 vs. Winner Game 12, noon or 3 p.m., if necessary

Sunday
Championship: Bracket A winner vs. Bracket B winner, 1 p.m.