NEW ORLEANS, La. – Texas Southern University won its first Southwestern Athletic Conference baseball title since 2008 with a 10-0 win over Southern University Sunday afternoon at Wesley Barrow Stadium in New Orleans, La. The Tigers (31-17) have now won three titles in the program’s history. Southern concluded its season at 20-23 overall.
Frank Cruz IV pitched a complete nine inning, four-hit shutout to help lead the Tigers to victory. He also struck out a game-high four batters. Leading TSU offensively was senior Zach Howell. The left fielder went 3-for-4 with three runs and three RBI. Horace Leblanc was the only other batter to collect multiple hits. He went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI.
Southern starter Santos Saldivar threw a no-hitter into the fourth inning. With two on and one out, Javier Valdez singled through the right side to load the bases. Howell then took his first pitch to deep left center field for a standup 3-run double. Leblanc followed with a double of his own, scoring Howell. Saldivar then struck out the side to end the ending.
Texas Southern got hot again in the sixth playing small ball. Howell was hit then advanced on a bunt single down the left field line from Leblanc. Blake Hicks laid a bunt down and Howell beat out the play at third to load the bases. Reliever J’Markus George then hit Joel Rosario to bring another run across. Errors in the field allowed three more to score and TSU took the 9-0 lead.
Cruz and the Tiger defense held Southern to just one hit for the remaining three innings. Texas Southern advances to the NCAA Tournament. They now wait to see their matchup during the NCAA Division I Baseball selection show May 25 at noon on ESPNU.