Southern rallies past Grambling

Southern’s baseball team scored five runs in the top of the eighth inning to overcome a three-run deficit and defeat Grambling 7-5 on Saturday at Wesley Barrow Stadium in New Orleans’ inaugural MLB Urban Youth Academy Invitational.

The Jaguars entered the eighth inning down 5-2 and trailed the previous six innings. The Jaguars were unable to break through against Tigers starter T.J. Murphy despite several opportunities with runners in scoring position. That changed when Cole Gray came on in relief of Murphy in the eighth.

Southern put two men aboard with no outs after a hit by pitch and a walk.

Grambling coach James Cooper called for another pitching change and sent Issac O’Bear to the mound. Southern’s Harley Wiltz attempted a sacrifice bunt but reached safely to load the bases when the ball skipped out of O’Bear’s reach.

The Jaguars scored four runs to take a 6-5 lead. Marcus Tomlin provided the go-ahead RBI single.

“Throughout the whole game we were putting pressure on them,” Tomlin said. “Things just weren’t falling our way, and that eighth inning, that was the inning. We just never give up, and things happen.”

Southern added another run on a sacrifice fly to make the score 7-5.

“I’m glad my kids did show the ability to come back,” Southern coach Roger Cador said. “We got down and didn’t play well early, but we made a pitching change, and we pitched better, our confidence kept growing and growing, and we were able to get to their bullpen.”

James Fontenote started for Southern and had a rough outing, giving up four runs in three innings. Cador replaced him with John Thigpen in the fourth inning. Thigpen pitched five strong innings, surrendering a run on two hits while striking out eight.

“The thing that made it happen was the bullpen,” Cador said. “Thigpen and (Cade) LeBlanc being able to come in and hold them down, making quality pitches really gave us a chance.”

Grambling had an opportunity to come back in the ninth inning, putting runners on first and second with two outs, but Juan Bueno grounded into a force out at third.

Southern will take on UNO on Sunday at noon at Alex Box Stadium. Grambling will square off against LSU on Sunday at 4 p.m., also at Alex Box.