Arkansas-Pine Bluff baseball coach Carlos James has seen enough selfish play out of his team.
A few days after playing Oklahoma State close, the Lions dropped two SWAC games to Texas Southern 9-3 and 6-3 Saturday at Torii Hunter Baseball Complex. Texas Southern came into the game with an 0-5 SWAC record.
After the game, James told his team how disappointed he was in them.
“I am very disappointed in the way we play right now during conference because we don’t bring the same intensity level playing against Texas Southern as we do when we go to Oklahoma State or Alabama,” he said. “ We are not making that transition and for me, it’s disappointing. I have tried a lot of things to get them going and hopefully (Saturday’s) speech, they start to get it.”
UAPB (1-18-1, 1-4 SWAC) never led in either game and were held to four hits in the first game against Texas Southern (11-8, 2-5).
The reason the Lions are struggling against conference opponents is because the team is not playing together, James said.
“When they start playing for UAPB and stop playing for themselves, then we will be the better ballclub and a better team,” he said. “I think we play more as a team against the bigger schools than we do against the SWAC schools.
“I think we come in thinking we were better than the guys in the SWAC, but the guys in the SWAC compete hard. The Texas Southerns and Gramblings play us harder because no one wants to get beat by UAPB. The program is still trying to upstart, so everyone wants to keep us down.”
UAPB finish last in the SWAC last season, and James said the team has never finished higher than third in the conference.
James said with the talent his team has, the Lions should be winning more games.
“It’s not the talent level. I think we’ve got some of the best talent that we have ever had here,” he said. “But the difference is, we haven’t found a way to play together as a team and play for UAPB. When they do that, we will start to win ball games. Until that, it just won’t happen.”
The first game was close through the first six innings as Texas Southern scored a run in the third and fourth inning for a 2-0 lead. But things started to go downhill as the Tigers scored two runs in the seventh and three in the eighth for a 7-0 lead.
UAPB was able to score three runs in the bottom of the eighth before Texas Southern added two more runs in the ninth for the 9-3 win.
Watson Chapel graduate Michael Newby took the loss and gave up seven runs — four earned — on 10 hits, three walks and four strikeouts. Soloman Williams drove in two runs in the loss.
Texas Southern coach Michael Robertson said his team pitched well in both games.
“Everything about this ballclub, I think it starts on the mound … and we finally got it,” he said. “We got two quality starts (Saturday). Then we got some timely hitting.”
Darius McClelland got the win in the first game after seven innings of four-hit ball. He did give up three runs.
In the second game, Abel Flores went 4 1/3 innings for the win as he gave up two runs on five hits.
Texas Southern got off to a 2-0 lead in the first inning and added another run in the third when UAPB scored two runs in the fifth to trail 3-2. But the Tigers scored a run in the sixth and two more in the eighth to seal the game before the Lions plated a run in the ninth.
The Lions had three runners picked off in the second game, all at the wrong times, James said.
“No way you get picked off in crucial situations,” he said. “We got picked off one time at first base when I told him we were going to hit-and-run on the second pitch. We got picked off with the bases loaded, and we got picked off on a play when we were going to lay down a bunt and move the runner over to third.
“That lets me know right there we are not playing together as a team. That’s selfish.”
Jordan Sechler went five innings in the loss and gave up three runs on six hits, walked five and struck out seven. Sean Samsa had two RBIs.
The two teams play against at 1 p.m. today at Torii Hunter Baseball Complex, and James is interested to see which UAPB team shows up.
“I am hoping they take the message and come out with some enthusiasm and come out knowing that if we leave here 2-4, we still are fighting like everyone else.”