PRAIRIE VIEW, Texas — With steady winds ripping across the plains of Texas, this wasn’t the best of days for Jose DeLa Torre’s pesky hamstring that’s been troubling him the past few weeks.
But he kept himself in the lineup, anchored in the important No. 3 spot in the batting order, and he came up huge, driving in five runs as Southern claimed a Southwestern Athletic Conference Western Division baseball series at division leader Prairie View with an 8-2 win Sunday.
“We thought about sitting him,” Southern coach Roger Cador said. “There was a discussion. I was concerned about the conditions, with it being so chilly. But he said, ‘I can go,’ and he came up big for us.”
DeLa Torre had as many RBIs as Southern had runs Saturday as the two teams split a pair of tight games — with Southern winning the second game 3-1 in 10 innings after losing the first game 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth.
“Blue sky, but it was a miserable day,” Cador said. “The outcome makes it a lot sweeter — to endure all that wind and frigid cold.”
The elements and a difficult foe in Prairie View (11-10, 6-3 SWAC) weren’t the only factor Southern had to overcome.
DeLa Torre’s efforts allowed Southern (13-10, 7-5) to absorb losing starting pitcher Daniel Garcia (3-1) after he injured his fingernail trying to field a groundout back to him to lead off the third inning.
With Southern up 4-0, Victor ilarrazza pitched the next 4.2 innings, allowing just one unearned run.
“He was up 4-0 at the time and throwing the ball well (three strikeouts), in control. ilarrazza did a really good job holding them at bay,” Cador said.
PV starter Michael Medina issued three straight walks (and five in the first two innings and seven overall) after inducing a groundout to start the game before Brian Rowry singled, Gavin Webster drew a leadoff walk and Brian Ortiz had a groundout RBI to stake the Jaguars to a 3-0 lead.
DeLa Torre’s sacrifice fly gave Southern a 4-0 lead in the second.
Colby Hines’ single got PV within 4-1 in the third.
But DeLa Torre’s two-run single pushed the Jaguars lead to 6-1 in the sixth. And his two-RBI double with two outs in the eighth gave Southern an 8-1 lead.
DeLa Torre, who walked and scored in the first, finished 2-for-3.
“Every time we had runners on, he had really big, quality at-bats,” Cador said. “He didn’t feel the pressure of hitting in the three hole. ... He’s been hurt since the Texas Southern series (March 9-10), but he’s always telling me, ‘Keep playing me. Keep playing me.’ ”
Dominiq Harris, who led PV by going 2-for-3, had an RBI single in the eighth.
Also for Southern, Sean Washington went 2-for-5 and Jose Lopez scored three times, finishing 1-for-3. Marcus Tomlin drew two walks, was hit by a pitch and scored twice.
“We were able to win two out of three on the road, like we did at Grambling and Arkansas-Pine Bluff,” Cador said. “If we can keep winning all of our series like that, you usually win the division. We’ll see what happens.”
SU won’t play again until Friday and Saturday, when the Jaguars host Selma in a break from conference play.
“With no midweek game and no conference games this weekend, that gives us a chance to heal,” Cador said.
Cador liked his team’s mental approach Sunday.
“I think the did a good job early — under the conditions — of not fading,” Cador said. “They had a pretty good foccus and maintained that all the way through the game.”