As third baseman Caleb Hatcher came to bat Wednesday night with the bases loaded in the eighth, Southern coach Roger Cador called him toward the dugout for a quick chat.
“There comes a time in a man’s life when you’ve got to be a man,” Cador said he told him. “This is the time for you.”
Hatcher manned up and came through, sending a two-run single to left that keyed Southern’s late rally against Nicholls State at Pete Goldsby Field and provided the go-ahead score in an 8-6 victory.
The Jaguars trailed 6-2 entering the bottom of the eighth.
“All he was doing,” Hatcher said of Cador’s pep talk, “was giving me a confidence-booster.”
Southern (6-5) salvaged a split of the season series with Nicholls (7-7) after being blasted 11-1 in Thibodaux last month.
On a night when outfielders D.J. Wallace, Gavin Wesbster and Tyler Kirksey and shortstop Jeremy Lopez were missing because of injuries, the Jaguars went with six walk-ons in the starting lineup.
Southern also got help from its bench.
Derrick Hopkins, who finished 2-for-2 with two RBIs and two runs scored, and T.J. Perkins both had a hand in the six-run eighth inning after entering the game as pinch hitters. Both were on base when Hatcher stepped to the plate with Southern down 7-6 against Nicholls closer Jordan McCoy.
After taking a big cut on the first offering from McCoy, Hatcher delivered the sidewinder’s second offering into left field.
Hopkins and Brian Ortiz scored to turn the one-run deficit into Southern’s first lead.
Two batters later, Sean Washington knocked a single to score Perkins and make it an 8-6 game.
The late awakening came after Southern’s bats struggled to get much going for seven innings as Nicholls starter Grant Borne, a Catholic High graduate, and relievers Brandon Jackson and Marc Picciola cruised along.
Borne gave up a run on two hits in the first, but held Southern scoreless over the next three frames and finished with six strikeouts. Jackson threw two more scoreless innings.
Hatcher nearly helped trigger a multi-run seventh, but Nicholls center fielder Matt Richard held him to a sacrifice fly off Picciola when he extended to make a diving catch with two runners on.
“We finally put some things together and made it happen,” Cador said. “It felt good.”
Kelby Langston (0-2), whose eighth inning started with a dropped fly ball by Mike Barba in right, took the loss for Nicholls. He recorded only one out.
Josh Powell secured the win for Zephan Rochelle (1-0) by keeping Nicholls off the board in the ninth.
Keith Cormier and Alex Tucker gave the Colonels some life with back-to-back singles, but the inning went south when Cormier was caught in a rundown between second and third.
“We played Nicholls awhile back and got completely demolished,” Hatcher said. “This is really going to rally us because it gives us some momentum.”
Richard led the Nicholls offense, going 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored. Barba and Cormier had two hits apiece.
Washington finished 3-for-5 for Southern from the leadoff spot.
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