Jaguars bounce back to drill Texas Southern

A day after Texas Southern swept Southern to begin their three-game Southwestern Athletic Conference series, the Tigers arrived at Lee-Hines Field to howling winds and overcast skies.

The weather wasn’t the only difference they found.

Southern looked far superior to the team TSU saw in Saturday’s doubleheader, mixing big innings at the plate with timely pitching and defense to score a 12-5 win.

Coach Roger Cador said the key Sunday was putting behind past failures, something he thought the Jaguars failed to do the day before.

“I told the kids I did not place enough emphasis on them concentrating,” Cador said. “As the leader, I needed to get them refocused and in a position to be successful.”

In bouncing back, Southern (7-7, 3-3) returned to .500 in SWAC play.

The Jaguars, who played their first games at their recently renovated ballpark this weekend, hit the road for their next two conference series beginning with a trip to Grambling next weekend.

The loss kept TSU (10-8, 2-1) from a 3-0 start.

“We’re still not satisfied, but avoiding a sweep is big.” Southern first baseman Derrick Hopkins said. “We don’t ever want to get swept.”

Hopkins, who went 2-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs from the cleanup spot, helped lead a rejuvenated Southern offense that hung a crooked number on the scoreboard in four of its eight at-bats. Jose De La Torre, who had his second homer of the season in Saturday’s first game, went 2-for-2 with another homer, a double and two RBIs.

TSU starter Frank Cruz (1-2) lasted just three-plus innings, giving up seven runs on eight hits. He surrendered a five-spot in the second to put the Tigers in a 5-0 hole.

A day earlier, TSU’s starting pitchers combined to yield only two runs in 9-7 and 2-1 wins to start the series.

Southern finished the finale with 11 hits.

“We haven’t swung the bats like we’re capable,” Hopkins said. “Hopefully, this will get us going.”

Texas Southern matched the Jaguars with 11 hits, but the Tigers were not able to take advantage of the strong wind gusting to straightaway center field.

Southern starter Danny Garcia (2-1) held TSU to two runs in 4.2 innings before leaving the game because of leg cramps.

The bullpen had a tougher time getting outs, but the Tigers never got the big inning they needed.

TSU left 15 runners stranded, scoring each of its five runs in five separate at-bats.

“I had my concerns,” Cador said, “because of the way Texas Southern swung the bats yesterday.”

Jerry Ford went 2-for-5 with a double to lead the TSU offense.

The game ended after Ford knocked a two-out single to left that appeared to score Michael Starkey from second. But Starkey was called for interfering with Caleb Hatcher as he rounded third base.