Short-handed Southern loses in ninth at McNeese

The Southern baseball team is running out of games and players.

The Jaguars had just 10 position players in uniform as they lost their final midweek game of the season 16-12 against McNeese State on Wednesday afternoon in Lake Charles.

Southern (8-25) will conclude the season with a three-game series at Prairie View on Saturday and Sunday. The Jaguars roster will continue to shrink with the impending conclusion of the semester, and Southern will not make up a doubleheader at Texas Southern on May 8.

“We’re not going to have enough kids,” coach Roger Cador said.

When the Jaguars failed to qualify for the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament, which begins May 14, Cador gave 10 players who are from other countries or have long distances to travel home permission to leave after final exams, which end May 7. The cost for the families to change the flights would be prohibitive, Cador said.

The SWAC was waiting until the completion of the regular season this weekend to see if the makeups would be necessary. A doubleheader between the Jaguars and Texas Southern was rained out March 15 in Houston.

If after this weekend the makeup games would have had the potential to affect second-place Texas Southern’s ability to catch first-place Arkansas-Pine Bluff or be caught by third-place Prairie View, the doubleheader would have been made up — until the Jaguars’ lack of players arose.

“Whatever the conference decides to do,” Cador said. “We’ll just have to eat it.”

Earlier in the season, Cador said he was prepared to forfeit the games because the return trip to Houston would cost $5,000-$6,000 that wasn’t in the budget. But Cador said Tuesday that he was prepared to make the trip and pay for it with money he had saved for recruiting before realizing the number of players who would be absent.

The Jaguars were short-handed for a different reason Wednesday as several players couldn’t make the trip because they had final exams to take.

Freshman infielder Sergio Torres was the only backup position player and was the sixth available pitcher.

“They did well with a patched-up lineup,” Cador said after Southern took a one-run lead into the ninth but lost on James Cantu’s walk-off grand slam. “We were short-handed. We made four errors that hurt us. On top of that, we walked 10.

“It shows that this is a good team if we could execute and just play a complete game.”

The Cowboys (24-21) scored five runs against Ryan Flynn in the first and had a 9-4 lead after seven innings.

Flynn allowed eight runs in 4.1 innings, but Camilo Godoy followed with 1.2 scoreless innings and Victor Ilarraza pitched a scoreless inning, giving Southern a chance to rally.

A McNeese error and RBI doubles by Robinson Mateo and Jeremy Glore contributed to the Jaguars four-run eighth.

After McNeese scored two in the eighth, another Cowboys error, Marcus Tomlin’s sacrifice fly and Tyler Kirksey’s two-run double helped Southern scored four more and take a 12-11 lead in the ninth.

But in the bottom half, Harley Wiltz made an error and James Fontenot (1-1), allowed a double and two walks ahead of Cantu’s hit.

“I figure we gave them seven runs,” Cador said. “We got the key hits, but we just did not make the routine plays.”