NEW ORLEANS (WAFB) - Southern got a bit of a scare from Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the first round of the SWAC Tournament but managed to make big plays when needed to pull out the win.
The Jags (29-21) came away with the 11-7 win over the Golden Lions (8-41) and advanced to the winner’s bracket.
With Southern holding on to a one run lead, Johnny Johnson hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Eli Finney started on the mound for the Jaguars. He allowed five runs on nine hits in seven innings of work. He struck out five batters. Rhett Hebert relieved him and loaded the bases with one out in the eighth inning. Connor Whalen was then called upon. UAPB scored one run on a wild pitch and another on a batted ball that resulted in a double play. In the ninth, Whalen gave up a hit, but got two batters to ground out and another to fly out.
After Finney was able to get the Golden Lions to go down one-two-three in the top of the first, Southern’s bats were hot from the start. Tyler LaPorte hit a lead-off triple and scored on a groundout to first base by Ashanti Wheatley to put the Jags up 1-0.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff rallied in the second inning to take the 2-1 lead. But Southern was able to tie it at 2-2 in the bottom of the inning off a double down the left field line by Hampton Hudson that sent Malik Blaise home.
In the top of the fourth inning, the Golden Lions would again put up a pair of runs, but the Jags responded in the bottom of the inning with three hits and three walks that resulted in three runs and the 5-4 lead.
Southern extended its lead in the fifth inning. First, Blaise blasted a solo shot to left field. Later, Zavier Moore hit a double that plated Hudson and Colby Taylor to make it 8-4.
That cushion didn’t last, as UAPB put up one run in the seventh inning and two more in the eighth to make it 8-7.
That’s when Johnson went yard over the left field wall to put the Jags up 11-7 and secure the win.
Southern will next face Texas Southern at 6 p.m. Thursday.