Texas Southern senior Darius McClelland threw a complete game and held Arkansas-Pine Bluff to just two runs on six hits as the Tigers defeated the Golden Lions 5-2 in the second game of a doubleheader on Saturday at the Torii Hunter Baseball Complex.
“He has a good arm,” UAPB head coach Carlos James said. “He is a guy we tried to recruit when he was coming out of a junior college in California.
“He did a good job against us.”
In only his second start of the season, McClelland struck out six batters, walked two and did not give up an earned run.
UAPB won the first game 9-2.
“The main thing is, they came out with more energy than we did in the second game,” James said.
Texas Southern (9-16, 6-3 SWAC) scored two runs on three hits in the first inning to take a 2-0 lead. UAPB (8-18, 8-2) got one run back in the bottom of the second but TSU would add three more runs in the top of the seventh to secure the victory.
“We had a chance to shut them out in the first game and if you do that, then they don’t come out with the energy they had in the second game,” James said.
In the first game, UAPB led 9-0 heading into the final inning. But TSU scored two runs on two hits off reliever Jaron Gold. James said it was those two runs that gave TSU momentum for the second game.
“Coach (Michael) Robertson has a good team and a good program,” James said. “They aren’t going to lay down, they are going to fight.”
In the second game, Zach Welz paced the Tigers’ offense finishing the day 3 for 4 with four RBIs. Welz had a two-run double in the first inning and a two-run single in the seventh.
Mikey Ramirez was tagged with the loss for UAPB. He pitched seven innings and allowed five runs (three earned) on 10 hits with three strikeouts and one walk.
“That is uncommon for him,” James said of Ramirez’s early struggles. “But traditionally if you look back, Texas Southern has hit him pretty well.
“They have done well against him.”
UAPB did score a run in the bottom of the eighth but probably should have scored a couple more in the inning after getting two on with just one out.
“Our hitters just didn’t get it done,” James said. “We had guys in scoring position and we had the right guys up, we just didn’t get it done.
“Just got to do a better job of that.”
UAPB left seven runners on base. In the bottom of the second, the Lions loaded the bases to start the inning but managed to just scrape together one run.
Mitch Bruckshaw led UAPB at the plate in the second game. He finished 2 for 4 with an RBI. Tyler Oertle, Isias Alcantar, Andre Davis and Jose Hernandez had a hit each.
“Texas Southern played with more emotion in the second game,” James said. “They played with a lot of emotion in the second game and we didn’t match it.
“I look for our guys to match the intensity and emotion (Sunday).”
In the first game, Vladimir Gomez made his season debut with UAPB and finished with two hits in four trips with three RBIs.
“He did a good job,” James said. “It was better the first game, because he was down in the line up and had less pressure on him.”
James moved Gomez to the lead off spot in the second game and he finished 0 for 4.
“We had to put him in the top of the line up, because we had to give Rashawn (Tillman) a little rest,” James said. “That put a little bit more pressure on him and I think he tried to do too much.”
In the first game, UAPB scored five runs in the first, two in the third and two in the seventh. They had nine hits and left seven runners on base.
Jim Ploeger picked up his third win of the season for UAPB. He allowed just five hits in six innings of work and struck out nine.
Texas Southern starter Devin Kanorik lasted just three innings and gave up seven runs (all earned) on six hits with four walks and no strikeouts.
The series will conclude at 1 p.m. Sunday.
“It is like I told them, ‘We haven’t lost a (conference) series in a while,’” James said. “We didn’t lose one last year at all and we haven’t lost one yet this year.”
Scheduled to start on the mound today for UAPB is senior Kyle Schwartz. In seven starts this season, Schwartz is 2-3 with an ERA of 6.45. Opponents have a batting average of .291 and he has allowed 29 runs (27 earned) on 43 hits with 24 strikeouts and 11 walks.
“We got Kyle going and he is usually our game one guy,” James said. “We will be ready to go.”