After starting the season with a nine-game road trip, the Arkansas-Pine Bluff baseball team is happy to be home.
“I think the thing is, is finally getting home and sleeping in your own bed,” UAPB head coach Carlos James said. “We stayed at some nice places, but there is nothing like sleeping in your own bed.”
In a span of a week, UAPB (0-9) traveled to three different states and an estimated 10,000 miles. The Golden Lions started with a four game series with Tulane, and then left immediately for Norman, Okla., for a two-day series with Oklahoma.
Last Friday, UAPB competed in the Tiger Classic – a three-day tournament that featured host Auburn, East Tennessee State and California.
Needless to say, the Lions are happy to be home.
“It takes its toll on anybody,” James said. “We are not going to use it as an excuse.
“Playing at home, in conference, that is a welcome sight for us right now.”
UAPB will host Prairie View A&M for a three-game series beginning with a doubleheader today at noon at the Torii Hunter Baseball Complex.
The Lions finished last season second in the SWAC Western Division, one game ahead of Prairie View, but lost three of four to the Panthers. James said it is fitting that UAPB will host the Panthers to start the conference season.
“It is going to be a lot of emotion,” James said. “We kind of get after each other pretty good.
“It should be a good three-game series.”
Prairie View (2-6) has lost three straight games and its only two wins were against Texas College.
“They are about like everybody else on our side of the conference,” James said. “They have played a lot of bigger schools and haven’t done very well.
“That’s to be expected.”
Senior Robert Cossey leads Prairie View with a .387 batting average and a .548 slugging percentage. Senior Dominiq Harris has a .241 batting average in eight games.
“Dominiq is the only guy I have seen hit a home run out of here in left field through the wind,” James said.
Harris also has five RBIs to go along with his seven hits and one home run.
“One thing about Prairie View, they know how to win,” James said. “Their coach is a winner. We are expecting a good test from them.”
James said he expects to see Prairie View senior Jonathan Mata in either the first or second game. So far this season, Mata has an ERA of 2.45 in 11 innings. He has allowed seven runs (three earned) on eight hits with six strikeouts and eight walks.
After being swept by Oklahoma, UAPB lost 2-1 to Auburn in the first game of the Tiger Classic.
“I could tell the guys didn’t have any legs,” James said. “I sensed it, especially after the Auburn game.
“… You are on the road for a whole week then you come up short. The next day we came out flat and we were really flat the next two days.”
Except for some early morning weightlifting on Tuesday, James gave his team Monday and Tuesday off.
“You could tell that the energy level was gone after that Auburn loss. They will get it back. I’m not worried.”
Junior Andre Davis leads the Lions with a batting average of .300 in eight games. Senior Isias Alcantar leads the team with four RBIs.
In 11 innings, senior Mikey Ramirez has an ERA of 3.27. He allowed nine runs (four earned) on 14 hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
“In every game we played, they competed, no matter what the score was,” James said. “That’s one thing I can say about this team. It always competes.”