Prairie View bounces Southern baseball from SWAC tournament

FORT WORTH, Texas — The Southern baseball team’s worn-out pitching staff came apart and its batters squandered scoring opportunities Friday as Prairie View A&M eliminated the Jaguars from the SWAC tournament with an 11-4 victory.

SU, the top seed out of the West Division, was playing its third game in 28 hours and coming off a deflating, 10-9 loss to Alabama State after the Jaguars had led 9-3 in the eighth inning. That contest ended at 1:15 a.m. Friday; the Jaguars arrived later in the morning for a scheduled noon game that didn’t begin until 1:45 p.m.

“What happened today had a lot to do with what happened 24 hours ago, when we gave up six runs and lost a game (to Alabama State),” Southern coach Roger Cador said.

Once Friday’s game did start, the Jaguars (21-23) never led. The first three Panthers reached base in the first inning, then cleanup hitter Greg Salcido grounded out for the first of his four RBIs.

SWAC West No. 3 seed Prairie View (25-26) knocked Southern starter Daniel Garcia (4-5) from the game with two more runs in the second. He allowed four hits, two walks and three runs in 1.2 innings.

“He did not have any command,” Cador said. “And when he did throw a strike, they hit him. That was unfortunate. He has been a really big part of this team, and he’s the last guy we had who was part of a SWAC championship (in 2009). But I couldn’t keep him in and get way too far behind.”

From there, Cador went deep into the bullpen but with little success: Freshman Victor Llarraza, junior Cade LeBlanc and sophomore John Pagan allowed eight runs in the next 5.1 innings. Before Friday’s game, they had combined for just 28 innings this season.

Southern had 16 hits against Panthers left-hander Michael Medina (5-5) but managed just single runs in the second, fourth, fifth and ninth. SU left 13 runners on base.

The Jaguars pulled within 3-1 in the bottom of the second. Brian Rowry singled with one out, advanced to second base when Jose De La Torre walked and scored on Harley Waitz’s single. The score stayed that way until the fourth, when Llarraza appeared to tire. PV scored four runs with two outs — two on Salcido’s double and two more on Dominiq Harris’ seventh home run.

Trailing 7-1 in the fourth, Southern put together its most serious threat, with four singles accounting for a run. But Medina struck out Tyler Kirksey and retired Kevin Williams on a fly ball to end the inning.

In the fifth, D.J. Wallace doubled and scored on De La Torre’s single. Caleb Hatcher’s double and another De La Torre single produced a ninth-inning run to set the final margin.

Cador eyes 3 or 4 more years

Cador, who has an 850-488-1 record and 14 SWAC championships in 29 seasons at Southern, said he would like to coach for three or four more years.

“The conference is a lot better,” he said. “I don’t mind a challenge. That’s what makes a man — the challenges you meet and how you’re able to solve them. Alabama State is doing it the right way, with two full-time assistants and new facilities. We need to get a lot of better players in, and we need a pitching coach.

“I will discuss these things with our chancellor, Dr. James L. Llorens, and our athletic director, Dr. William Broussard.”