Southern University sweeps the series; the Lonestar Diamond Classic sweeps the weekend
Spring is certainly coming close to being in full swing.
And with that, college baseball is getting to the "meat and potatoes" portion of the schedule. However, before getting deeper in their conference play, the weekend of March 26-28, 2021 sees the inaugural Lonestar Diamond Classic take center stage in Frisco, TX at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Playing at the home of the Frisco Rough Riders (the AA affiliate of the Texas Rangers), the series hosted by BCSG360 (click HERE to visit their website) features the Southern University Jaguars and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Golden Lions.
HBCU (Historically Black College and Universities) baseball takes center stage at one of the leading minor league (professional) ballparks. With a myriad of supporters across the state and country (as we hosted a book-signing on March 27, 2021), along with virtual community centered events (a job fair and college fair), it's about giving back to the community and lending support to some outstanding institutions. Add the support of 19-year Major League veteran outfielder (1997-2015) Torii Hunter (who among his career accomplishments wins 9 consecutive Gold Gloves, the award given to the top defensive player at their position) and you have the makings of something more than just great action on the diamond.
You have something that can truly bring communities together and even greater support for some truly outstanding universities.
Game 3 recap: Southern University (9-12) defeats Arkansas Pine-Bluff (2-11) by a 7-5 score
Coming into the series ending game, the Jaguars' offense is the story. Their wins in the first 2 games see them produce 26 runs (winning Game 1 by an 11-7 margin and Game 2 by a 15-8 score) and gradually gaining momentum (3-game winning streak entering today's game). The Golden Lions last game prior to this series is on March 19th against Prairie View A&M (a 5-2 loss) as the subsequent games in that series, along with a scheduled game against Little Rock, are postponed.
Tony Horn, Jr is faced with the daunting task of cooling off the red-hot Southern offense. In the top of the 1st inning, RBI's by Tremaine Spears and Zavier Moore would give the Jaguars an early 2-0 lead. However, a 3-run bottom of the 3rd inning highlighted by a mammoth 2-run homerun by 1st baseman Nick Kreutzer would give the Golden Lions a 3-2 lead.
A second 2-run homerun by Kreutzer in the bottom of the 5th inning would extend the Golden Lions' lead to 5-2. Combined with solid shutdown pitching by Horn, Jr, Arkansas Pine-Bluff looks like they may be able to get a win in this series.
And then comes the top of the 7th inning.
A pair of defensive miscues chases Horn, Jr from the game (at the time, he pitches 6.2 innings and allows 2 runs, along with a solid 5 strikeout/2 walk performance). With the bases loaded, relievers Jace Mapston and Jordan O'Guinn aren't able to shut the door. Two Southern University batters are hit by pitches, and by the time Bryce Roesch gets the final out of the inning, the Jaguars' explosive offense strikes for 5 runs, giving them a 7-5 lead.
Solid relief pitching by Khristian Paul and Enrique Ozoa (they combine to pitch 3.2 innings without allowing a run) seals the deal for the Jaguars for the series ending win, sweeping the Classic. Combined with the offensive and team leadership of Tremaine Spears (the series Most Outstanding Player), the Jaguars' winning streak improves to 4 in a row.
The outstanding game-play is part of the winning combination, including Sunday's clincher over the valiant effort of the Arkansas Pine-Bluff Golden Lions. The overwhelmingly positive tone set by BCSG360, alumni, fans, the staff of the Frisco Rough Riders, and the larger community clearly plants seeds for success within and beyond the game.
Southern University sweeps the series; the Lonestar Diamond Classic sweeps the weekend.
Notes: All photos and video captured by Andrew Snorton
Photo Grid 1:
Former MLB player Torii Hunter and director of BCSG360, Prentiss Hill, during the trophy celebration.
Southern University during the pre-game playing of Lift Every Voice and Sing (by James Weldon Johnson).
Tony Horn, Jr. is dealing. After allowing 2 runs, he pitches 5 shutdown innings before getting chased in the top of the 7th inning.
Southern scores again. Their offense puts up 33 runs during the 3-game series.
Kacy Higgins takes a swing. The Golden Lions' outfielder has a RBI single in the game.
The Arkansas Pine-Bluff team is focused on getting a win in the series.
Nick Kreutzer is greeted by his teammates. The Golden Lions' 1st baseman would have a pair of 2-run homeruns in the game (4 RBI's).
The Jaguars' Mykel Page talks strategy.
Southern's shortstop Judah Wilbur gets ready to step up at the plate.
Did we say offense? The Jaguars explode for 5 runs in the top of the 7th.
Energy. The Jaguars sure brought it.
Dr Pepper Ballpark is a wonderful venue to catch a game (the home of the Frisco Rough Riders, the AA affiliate of the Texas Rangers).
Torii Hunter takes time for a photo opp.
On Saturday, March 27th, we're able to hold a book-signing in the ballpark featuring "nothing Minor" (as a portion of the proceeds are donated to BCSG360).
One of the statues at the entrance of the ballpark.
Twilight deep in the heart of Texas.
Photo Grid 2:
Enrique Ozoa pitches 2 shutdown innings of relief (8th and 9th inning) to close out the win for Southern University.
Time to celebrate as the Jaguars win the series and increase their current winning streak to 4 games.
Torii Hunter takes time to speak with the coaching staff of the Jaguars.
Torii Hunter and director of BCSG360, Prentiss Hill.
It'll be a good trip back to Baton Rouge with the trophy in hand.