Texas Southern Sports Information
NEW ORLEANS – The Tigers of Texas Southern University are headed back to the NCAA Tournament after defeating Grambling State 18-3 for the team’s second consecutive Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament championship Sunday.
At Wesley Barrow Stadium, a nine-run third inning gave Texas Southern a comfortable advantage as the Tigers from the Lone Star State cruised to its third conference championship in four seasons.
Christian Sanchez went 2-for-4 with five RBIs, while O.J. Oloruntimilehin drove in four runs as part of a 2-for-6 day for Texas Southern (27-26). Aron Solis struck out six batters over five innings to pick up his second victory of the tournament, improving his overall season record to 10-3.
In collecting four RBIs for the second consecutive game, Oloruntimilehin was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Sanchez, Kamren Dukes, and Gaudencio Lucca also represented TSU on the All-Tournament team.
Dukes went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and four runs scored Sunday, as he reached base safely for the 45th consecutive game. Lucca went 2-for-4 with three RBIs in the game.
Sanchez’ five-RBI game included a two-run home run in the eighth inning, which was his SWAC-leading 17th of the season.
Junior college transfer Keanu Van Kuren went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs and five runs scored. He was making only his second start of the tournament (and his first since the opener), and was not in the original starting lineup card sent to the press box an hour before the tournament.
It was Van Kuren’s outfield assist on the third out of the second inning may have changed the direction of game. With two runners in scoring position, Ace Felder knocked a single to right field that scored Isaiah Torres from third to give Grambling a 2-1 lead. A two-run lead was thwarted when Van Kuren’s throw to the plate was on target, with catcher Ricky Urbano making a stretching tag to retire Richard Ortiz.
The win sends Texas Southern to the NCAA Tournament. The location and opponents will be announced next week.