TSUSports.com: Tigers back in SWAC championship game after defeating Jackson State 10-9

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    NEW ORLEANS – The Tigers of Texas Southern University will make their fourth consecutive appearance in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament championship game after defeating Jackson State 10-9 Saturday.

    In arguably the most exciting game in a tournament filled with thrilling contests, freshman Victor Cruz hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 10th inning with a sacrifice fly that allowed Ricky Urbano to cross home plate with the game-winning run.

    With the win, Texas Southern, the SWAC's West Division champion, will face a familiar opponent in the championship game – West Division runner-up Grambling. Sunday's championship game is scheduled for 2 p.m., and will air on ESPNews and the WatchESPN app.

    Olajide Oloruntimilehin went led TSU (26-26) with four RBIs while going 2-for-4 at the plate. The junior from Garland, Texas, knocked a two-run home run in the bottom of the third inning, and then came through with a bases-loaded double in the bottom of the seventh that reclaimed an 8-7 lead for TSU.

    The Tigers were poised to end the game in nine innings and brought Chris Suarez into the game to lock down what would have been his second save of the tournament. However, Jackson State reclaimed the lead when Dezmond Chumley knocked a one-out home run to center field with leadoff batter Stephan Vidal on base.

    Suarez recovered and the last five batters he faced to get the win, and improved to 2-1 on the season. Jose Tirado (6-2), the SWAC's Relief Pitcher of the Year, took the loss for Jackson State.

    Trailing 9-8 heading into the bottom of the ninth, TSU responded with a leadoff double from Christian Sanchez, who was then replaced with pinch runner Isaiah Perry. Jose Camacho then knocked a single, and moved to second base as JSU kept Perry from advancing home.

    With one out in the inning, head coach Michael Robertson opted to pinch hit for Oloruntimilehin with the situation requiring only contact with runners on second on third base. Pinch hitter Keanu Van Kuren lifted a fly ball into right field, allowing Perry to come home.

    The tying run was not without controversy, which began when an otherwise strong throw from Lamar Briggs was slightly up the line from the plate. Vidal, the JSU catcher, appeared to be blocking the basepath as he prepared to catch the throw when Perry collided into him just before touching the plate.

    Jackson State head coach Omar Johnson immediately ran out to protest Perry's collision with his catcher, but the call stood. When Tirado settled in to face the next batter, he threw to third as an appeal on whether Perry left base early, but that too was denied.

    Trey LeBlanc knocked two RBIs for TSU, while Blake Hicks knocked a solo home run – his first of the season.

    Courtesy: TSU Athletics
     

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