TSUSports.com: Tigers sweep weekend series from Southern with 7-5 comeback win

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    HOUSTON – The Tigers of Texas Southern University scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning Sunday to complete a 7-5 comeback win over Southern and sweep the weekend series.

    Blake Hicks' two-RBI double with the bases loaded gave the Tigers their first lead of the game in the eighth inning when Kamren Dukes and Gaudencio Lucca crossed home plate on the hit. TSU had trailed by as many as four runs Sunday.

    Chris Suarez picked up his first win in a TSU uniform after tossing one and one-third innings of scoreless innings. Starting pitcher Jacob Gilbreath matched a season high with seven strikeouts in five innings.

    Texas Southern (16-20) improved its record in Southwestern Athletic Conference divisional play to 10-4 with the win. The Tigers finished the weekend with a one-game lead over Grambling (18-18, 11-7 SWAC) in the conference's West Division.

    Southern (7-24) fell to 4-11 in SWAC divisional play. The Jaguars lost four out of five games against Texas Southern this season, with one game in Baton Rouge rained out last month.

    Trailing 5-4 going into their half of the eighth, the Tigers saw their first five batters reach base, starting with Keanu Van Kuren's leadoff double on the first offering from relief pitcher Austin Haensel. Dukes then hit a groundball that could have been the first out of the frame, but shortstop Tyler LaPorte misplayed it as he appeared to be keeping an eye on Van Kuren racing to third base.

    After Dukes claimed second base with his steal of the game (and team-leading 18th of the season), Lucca was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Christian Sanchez, who hit his team-leading 11th home run in the fifth inning for TSU's first two runs, then drew a six-pitch walk that sent Van Kuren home with the tying run.

    The next batter was Hicks, who was making his second plate appearance in as many innings after entering the game as a pinch hitter and flying out. Hicks took a 0-1 pitch from Haensel and sent a double to left field to claim the game-winning RBIs.

    Haensel recovered to strike out the next three TSU hitters. However, the two-run cushion proved to be enough for TSU to claim the sweep in front of one its larger crowds for a home game this season, which included a sizable portion of Southern fans.

    The Tigers tied the game at 4-4 with a pair of runs in the seventh inning thanks to an RBI single from Jose Camacho and a sacrifice fly from Trey LeBlanc. LeBlanc was robbed of a 3-for-3 day with a great diving catch in shallow right field by Southern's Aashanti Wheatley, but the necessary dive, as well muff on the exchange to Wheatley's throwing hand, allowed Sanchez to score the (first) tying run.

    Dukes, Lucca, and Sanchez scored two runs apiece for the Tigers. Dukes also led off the game with a single to left field that stretched his current hitting streak to 21 games.

    The Tigers will face a pair of Big 12 Conference opponents in their next games, starting with a Tuesday game at Baylor scheduled for a 6:35 p.m. start. TSU will be back in the greater Houston area when the Tigers face the Texas Longhorns at Constellation Field in Sugar Land. First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

    Courtesy: TSU Athletics
     

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