Mistakes doom Southern in 13-9 loss to Stillman

Advocate photo by JOHN OUBRE. Southern's Tyler Kieksey watches his fly ball sail in the dark sky at Pete Goldsby Field on Friday night. The Jaguars defeated Stillman 10-3 on Friday, but lost to the Tigers 13-9 on Saturday.
Advocate photo by JOHN OUBRE. Southern's Tyler Kieksey watches his fly ball sail in the dark sky at Pete Goldsby Field on Friday night. The Jaguars defeated Stillman 10-3 on Friday, but lost to the Tigers 13-9 on Saturday.

The Southern University baseball team outdid Stillman College in nearly every statistical category Saturday afternoon — except the one that matters.

The Jaguars had 17 hits, nearly matching Stillman’s 18. They committed fewer errors than the Tigers and stranded nearly half the number of runners. But they still came up short, falling 13-9 at Pete Goldsby Field in the second game of the regular season.

The win snapped a four-game losing skid for Stillman (1-4).

“We got a ton of hits, but we couldn’t get the big hit,” said Southern coach Roger Cador, whose team dropped to 1-1 after defeating Stillman 10-3 in Friday’s season opener. “We made so many baserunning mistakes that kept taking us out of potential big innings. We swung the bats and got hits that didn’t really matter.

“My big thing is, you’ve got to get runners together and have that big hit, and we just didn’t do it. I thought (Stillman) did a good job getting it.”

Much of the Tigers’ offense came in spurts. They scored four runs in the fourth, three runs in the sixth and four more in the seventh as Southern cycled through four pitchers Saturday.

Jaguars starter Jose De Leon struggled from the start, giving up two runs in the first three innings.

After De Leon retired the first batter of the fourth inning, five of the next six Tigers reached base — four of which scored — ending DeLeon’s day after just 3.2 innings. He allowed six runs (five earned) on nine hits, striking out two and walking four.

The junior right-hander was replaced by sophomore left-hander John Thigpen, who had similar struggles. Thigpen retired three of the first four batters he faced, but then gave up back-to-back hits to start the sixth, which led to three runs in the inning.

The Tigers added four more runs in the seventh, sending nine men to the plate in an inning that included an SU fielding error and two walks.

“We didn’t pitch very well today,” Cador said. “We missed a lot of pitches over the plate. “I tried to explain to not take these guys lightly. They might be a Division II school, but all those players came from Division I schools. You’re playing a D-II school in name, but against D-1 players.”

Southern slowly chipped away at the deficit in the later frames, scoring runs in every inning from the fourth to the eighth. The late push wasn’t enough to overcome the early deficit, as Stillman reliever Connor Acton closed the game out in the final three innings.

The series’ final game is at 1 p.m. Sunday. Southern will send senior right-hander Daniel Garcia to the mound.

“We look at this as a big game,” Cador said. “This is the rubber match. Hopefully we’ll be able to get something going.”