Southern tries to buck trend at Nicholls State

The Southern baseball team has lost seven consecutive games and is 4-16 for the season.

The Jaguars have repeatedly seen the importance of all nine innings. They’ve lost leads late, and they’ve seen one or two bad innings trump several good innings.

They’ll try to end that streak and that trend when they visit Nicholls State (15-14) in a nonconference game Tuesday night in Thibodaux.

“We don’t like prosperity. That’s what happens to us,” Southern coach Roger Cador said. “We’ve got to be able to complete a game, and we haven’t been able to do that.”

Southern was swept by Prairie View over the weekend in a series that was a microcosm of the season.

On Sunday, the Jaguars led 2-1 after five innings — but a six-run sixth inning gave the Panthers more than enough offense to prevail 7-2.

In the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, Southern had a 9-3 lead, then gave up six runs in the seventh and one in the eighth to lose 10-9.

“We always run into trouble after the sixth or seventh inning,” catcher Jose De La Torre said. “That’s when we have that one big inning.”

There are other examples of late-inning breakdowns turning potential victories into losses.

Last Wednesday at top-ranked UL-Lafayette, the Jaguars were tied at 3 going to the bottom of the seventh. Then they gave up seven runs in the seventh and seven in the eighth to lose 17-3.

At Grambling, Southern led 7-4 then gave up three in the eighth and lost 8-7 in 11.

Against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the Jaguars led 5-2, then gave up two in the seventh, one in the eighth and three in the ninth to lose 8-6.

Earlier in that series, they led 2-0 before a five-run seventh produced a 5-2 loss.

Against Northwestern State, they were tied at 7 before giving up five in the bottom of the seventh and losing 13-9.

Earlier in that series, Southern took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the seventh before allowing the tying run and losing 4-3 in 11.

“It always seems like it’s around the seventh inning,” outfielder Lance Jones said. “There will be a hit, then we might walk somebody and the wheels just fall off the wagon.”

Ineffective relief pitching has been a big part of the late-inning collapses, but an inability to build bigger leads — or to respond offensively after squandering a lead — has also contributed to the team’s downfall.

“We need to be more aggressive when we have runners in scoring position and get those runners in so that we can compete at the end of the game,” Jones said.

Cador will start junior right-hander Ryan Flynn (0-3, 12.86 ERA) and use several pitchers. Only weekend starters Santos Saldivar, John Thigpen and J’Markus George are off limits because the Jaguars don’t play again until they host Loyola on April 8.

“We don’t have a weekend series,” Cador said, “so we’re going to pitch a lot of people.”