In a race where two losses separate the first- and last-place teams in the SWAC Western Division, Arkansas-Pine Bluff is right in the middle of the championship hunt.
UAPB evened its conference record Sunday by earning an 8-3 series-clinching victory over Grambling State at Torii Hunter Baseball Complex. It’s the second straight conference series win for the Golden Lions (12-22, 7-7 SWAC), who are third in the five-team division and only a half-game behind Texas Southern (16-15, 8-7) for the lead.
Kyle Schwartz (3-3) pitched a complete-game victory. He struck out eight and allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits.
Isias Alcantar and Kirby Campbell each batted in three runs to lead UAPB on offense. Alcantar had two hits, as did Cody DeMera and Tyler Oertle. DeMera scored three runs.
The Lions built a 2-0 lead with an RBI double by Alcantar in the first and sacrifice flyout by Patrick Phillips in the second. An RBI single put Grambling State (14-20, 8-9) on the board in the third, but two runs scored on an error at shortstop on Alcantar’s fifth-inning at-bat to extend the lead to 4-1.
After the Tigers added a run in the top of the seventh, the Lions all but put the game away in the bottom half with a four-run outburst. Campbell drove in three runs with a two-out double, and Dylan Calhoun pushed across the final run with a triple.
Grambling State finished the scoring with an RBI single in the ninth.
UAPB had nine hits to Grambling State’s seven. The Tigers committed two errors, one more than the Lions.
Richard Bautista (5-4) gave up seven runs (all earned) on seven hits and struck out four in 6 2/3 innings, taking the loss.
UAPB will travel to Mississippi Valley State for a non-SWAC game at 3 p.m. today.