NEW ORLEANS -- Southern University came back from a 6-1 deficit to defeat Texas Southern University, 7-6 at Wesley Barrow Stadium, Saturday evening in New Orleans.
Southern called on Connor Whalen to close the final two innings and delivered, throwing only four pitches in the final stanza to retire the side and lead the Jaguars to their first Championship appearance since 2015.
Texas Southern scored the first run of the game on a fielder choice to the shortstop that plated Oscar Ponce. Southern answered back with a Hampton Hudson sacrifice fly that plated Hunter David to tie the game at one in the second inning.
After no runs scored in the third inning, Southern defense looked to be in control sitting two of TSU's first three batters when the wheels dislodged after a routine ground out turned to an error, and extended the inning for Texas Southern. TSU's head coach Mike Robertson took advantage and the momentum tallying five runs to take a commanding lead, 6-1.
The Jaguars did not fold. The Jags started chipping away at the lead, beginning with a three-run fifth inning. Tyler LaPorte the 2019 SWAC Player of the Year recorded a two-RBI single up the middle to plate Javyean Williams and Coby Taylor. LaPorte would later score on a Johnny Johnson RBI single up the middle to close the gap, 6-4.
Southern would add two additional runs in the bottom of the sixth. Hudson recorded a two-out triple to right field and scored on a Taylor blooper to right field. LaPorte recorded his third RBI of the game on a single to left center to score Taylor to tie the game 6-6.
Hudson who has been clutch all tournament recorded his second sacrifice fly to take the lead for good, plating David for a 7-6 lead.
LaPorte paced the Jaguars with two hits, three RBIs, and scored a run. David and Williams each recorded two hits. David and Taylor scored twice.
Southern's pitching came up big after giving up five runs in the top of the fifth, the Jags only gave up one hit the rest of the way and kept them scoreless the rest of the way.
Jackson Cullen came in relief and pitched 3.1 innings allowing one hit and no runs and struck out five Tigers to pick up the win. Whalen came in the eighth inning allowed no hit or runs to record the save. Whalen the 2019 SWAC Reliever of the Year has yet to give a run this season. Josh Freeman allowed six runs (1 earned) on six hits in a no-decision.
Southern returns to the SWAC championship game for the first time since 2019, and is seeking their SWAC leading 27th championship first since 2009.
#W1 Southern will face #E1 Alabama State Sunday. First pitch is slated for 11:30 am at Wesley Barrow Stadium. The SWAC Championship game will air live on ESPN News and the ESPN3 platform.