Mississippi Valley State is in.
At 1 p.m. Sunday, the Delta Devils will play in the championship game of the Southwestern Athletic Conference baseball tournament at Lee-Hines Field.
Now, they’re simply waiting to learn their opponent.
Friday night, in the final game of the tournament’s third day, Texas Southern scored one run apiece in the fourth and fifth innings and got a lights-out performance from pitcher Frank Cruz to get past rival Prairie View 2-0, forcing a rematch between the two teams at noon Saturday.
The winner will face Valley on Sunday, with a berth in the NCAA tournament on the line.
The loser will head home to Texas.
“We tell our guys that anybody can be beaten on a given day, and in a rivalry, you’ve got to forget the record,” said Prairie View coach Waskyla Cullivan, whose team could’ve clinched a title-game berth with a win Friday against TSU.
“So it’s a challenge right now. But tomorrow’s a new day, and a new opportunity.”
On Friday, the Tigers (26-27) certainly made the most of theirs.
TSU, which lost its first-round game Wednesday to Jackson State, needed to win twice Friday to surive and advance.
Texas Southern’s team did just that, crushing Jackson State 11-1 in seven innings, then returning to Lee-Hines later that night to upend Prairie View (26-23), which finished second to Southern in the Western Division this season.
Cruz (4-3) allowed three hits in a complete game, walking three and striking out six for TSU, the No. 4 West seed.
“I just thought Cruz and (catcher Jose Flores) had great rhythm all day long,” coach Michael Robertson said.
Tyler Flanagan singled home Jaron Brown in the fourth inning, giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead against Panthers starter Michael Listi (3-7).
Anthony Dilligard followed in the fifth with a two-out RBI double to left-center, scoring Lacy Jackson.
Neither team has named a starter for Saturday’s elimination game.
TEXAS SOUTHERN 11, JACKSON STATE 1, 7 INNINGS: TSU freshman Robert Pearson (4-1) held Jackson State to one hit in seven innings, and the offense took advantage of seven errors to eliminate JSU.
“He’s a freshman, and he’s the best pitcher on this staff when he comes ready” Robertson said. “He got the day started for us.”
Flores went 2-for-3 with three RBIs for TSU.
Dilligard and Jackson drove in two runs apiece.
Jackson State starter Jose Garcia (4-6) lasted only 3.1 innings, giving up seven runs.
JSU is still searching for its first SWAC title under sixth-year coach Omar Johnson.