MONTICELLO — Wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day is intended to prevent the undesirable action of being pinched. It’s also supposed to bring a little luck.
It didn’t work for Arkansas-Monticello’s baseball team Saturday afternoon as the Boll Weevils dropped both ends of a double-header to Great American Conference foe and in-state rival Southern Arkansas.
Southern Arkansas pitchers clamped down on UAM in both games as Doug Shields went the distance in the opener, allowing just three hits in a 6-0 shutout and James Baune picked up a 4-1 complete-game win in the nightcap.
“You have to tip your hat to (their pitchers),” UAM coach John Harvey said. “They did an awesome job. We hit the ball hard, especially in that second game. We had a chance to put some runs on the board but we line out here and hit into a double play there. That’s a couple of runs. But that’s just baseball.”
UAM dropped below .500 at 11-12 overall and fell to 1-7 in the conference and has now lost six straight and 10 of its last 11 after opening the season 10-2.
After Shields dominated the Weevils in the first game, UAM had opportunities in the afternoon tilt to pull out its second win of the season over the Muleriders. But the Weevils couldn’t produce a timely base hit.
“Right now we are struggling,” Harvey said. “We have been struggling the past few games. Early in the year we pitched really well. We threw a lot of strikes. Then we started struggling to play good defense and finding the hits.”
The Weevils trailed the Muleriders 2-1 entering the seventh inning when UAM starting pitcher Russell Watts ran into trouble, loading the bases with one out. Harvey went to the pen and called on Josh Chism to stop the bleeding. Chism struggled with his control to the first batter, walking in a run to extend the Mulerider lead to 3-1 and another run scored on a fielder’s choice for the final margin.
“Josh has done a really good job for us all year,” Harvey said. “He came in and struggled a little bit finding the zone today. “
Chism echoed Harvey’s statement, adding that he takes pride in being in that situation.
“I want to be the guy in that pressure situation,” Chism said. “Today I couldn’t really find my stuff. I got a couple of outs but I still wasn’t finding the zone. So, hopefully my next opportunity will be a little better. Who knows, tomorrow I might strike the next three out.”
Southern Arkansas has now won four straight and three of four from UAM. The Muleriders avenged a February 12 loss (9-8) to the Weevils and added Saturday’s victories to a 17-3 shelling of UAM on March 7.
Southern Arkansas coach Steve Browning said the Weevils are gaining ground on the conference after posting a 17-26 overall record and winning just six conference games last year prior to Harvey’s arrival.
“Coach Harvey has done a great job,” Browning said. “I’m not going to lie, when I heard he made the change from Henderson to here I was kind of scared of it. He’s got some ball players out there. They play the game the right way. They play hard and they had great pitching today, just lucky we did too.”
Browning added that the rivalry between the two schools is starting to resurface.
“Really, this is our rivalry,” Browning said. “How do we fare against Monticello? We are trying to instill that in our players and I’m sure Coach Harvey and his staff is going to do that here. They are going to continue to get better and hopefully we will too and this rivalry becomes a rivalry again.”
Watson Chapel product Ryan Dardenne had a successful day at the plate for Southern Arkansas with a two-RBI single in the first game and a single in three trips to the plate in the second.