No time for child’s play as Southern visits Texas Southern

Southern remains right in the thick of the Southwestern Athletic Conference Western Division chase, but the Jaguars will be in rebound mode when they visit Texas Southern for a three-game baseball series this weekend.

Southern has lost four of its last five games and seven of its last 10.

With the Jaguars having struggled to provide run support for a veteran pitching rotation, coach Roger Cador said it’s time the heart of the lineup starts to accept its role as the offense’s leading men.

“This is no time for them to put their little baby pants on,” Cador said. “They’ve got to put their man pants on and step out there and make things happen.”

Southern (12-14, 8-7 Western Division) looks to break through against a Texas Southern outfit that won two of three at Lee-Hines Field last month after beating the Jaguars on Feb. 22 in the MLB Urban Invitational. A doubleheader begins at noon Saturday, followed by a 1 p.m. first pitch Sunday to complete the series.

In the three TSU wins earlier this season, the Tigers (19-14, 6-6) took advantage of a stellar outing by their starting pitcher.

Felix Gomez threw a 1-0 shutout in the Urban Invitational, then gave up one unearned run in a 9-7 win to start the series at Southern in early March. Robert Pearson threw the second game of the series at Southern and led the Tigers to a 2-1 win, allowing four hits in a complete-game gem and outlasting Southern ace Jose De Leon.

Southern heads to Houston with shortstop Jeremy Lopez expected back in the lineup, but still without Gavin Webster, D.J. Wallace and Caleb Hatcher, who continue to nurse injuries.

“We’re still missing some very important parts,” Cador said. “Some of your better athletes — your better hitters. It is what it is. We’ve still got to line them up and go play.”

Southern has averaged only 3.25 runs over its last eight games.

In dropping two of three at home against Arkansas-Pine Bluff last weekend, Southern was held to a single run in both losses. In losing twice to LSU on back-to-back days this week, Southern scored two runs in each game.

“The people who we need to swing the bats haven’t swung the bats,” Cador said. “We just need them to do it. They need to step up and take ownership of the position they’re in and look at the fact the team needs them to be productive.”

The good news for Southern is that no one in the SWAC West has taken control of the division race.

Prairie View (16-14, 8-6) enters the weeekend in first place, but last-place Arkansas-Pine Bluff (10-21, 5-6) sits only 11/2 games back. Southern is a half-game back for second place. Texas Southern shares third place with Grambling (13-18, 7-7) and sits one game out of the division lead.