UAPB baseball makes statement in home finale

The Arkansas-Pine Bluff baseball team won its 20th game of the season — winning 20 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history — with a 17-3 win over Alcorn State in a nonconference game on Wednesday at the Torii Hunter Baseball Complex.

“We were a little relaxed (Wednesday) and we swung the bats pretty well,” UAPB head coach Carlos James said. “We were kind of complacent earlier (in the game).

“… We got to get it to the next level. Like we did against Pitt and UALR. We got to play at that level all the way through.”

UAPB (20-25) took a 2-0 lead in the first inning thanks to a solo home run by senior Mike Wieland and a sacrifice fly by Joshua Cassidy to plate Isias Alcantar from third.

Alcorn State (8-38) scored two runs in the second to tie the game and took a 3-2 lead on a sacrifice fly in the top of the third.

Relief pitcher Dixon Marble picked up the win for UAPB after pitching three shutout innings, allowing just one hit with two strikeouts and one walk. Starter Jaron Gold earned a no-decision after four innings of work. He allowed three runs (all unearned) on four hits.

“I thought Jaron did a great job,” James said. “Those runs that were given up were defensive errors.

“What I wanted to see out of Jaron, I saw. … When we get into tournament time, you need that fourth start and right now it is going to be Gold.”

UAPB tied the game in the third and took a 7-3 lead in the bottom of the fourth thanks in large part to a two-run single by Andre Davis.

“(Davis) struggled there for about a month,” James said. “But he’s beginning to really come on as of late.”

Davis finished the game 2 for 3 with the two RBIs. Coming into Wednesday’s game, Davis was batting .257 with 43 hits, five doubles and 16 RBIs.

“We changed my hands a little bit, raised them up a little bit,” Davis said. “I’m just relaxing at the plate.

“With the hits coming, it is just all falling into place.”

James said he looked back at Davis’ stats from his career and “he usually gets hot down the stretch.”

“We’ve been pretty good without him hitting,” James said. “When he gets it on, we should be pretty good down the stretch.”

James said Davis can get hot and can carry a team.

“Hopefully he can do that for us this year,” James said. “And we can ride him into a regional somewhere.”

UAPB also scored two runs in the fifth and eight runs in the bottom of the eighth inning after sending 14 batters to the plate. The Golden Lions had 15 hits and left 10 runners on base.

Alcorn State managed six hits with two errors and left five runners on base.

Charles Wilson was charged with the loss after just two innings of work for the Braves. He gave up six runs (two earned) on five hits with five walks.

Kirby Campbell led UAPB at the plate with three hits in four trips with three runs scored. Cassidy was 1 for 4 with a run and four RBIs. Vladimir Gomez was 2 for 3 with two runs and an RBI.

Mitch Bruckshaw was 2 for 4 with two RBIs.

“We definitely improved,” Davis said. “We are starting to play as a cohesive unit. We are finally putting all the pieces together.”

UAPB will travel to Houston for a huge three-game series with Texas Southern beginning with a doubleheader on Saturday.

If the Lions win the series, they will clinch the SWAC Western Division championship.

“We are looking forward to this weekend,” James said. “All our attention is on this weekend.”