Arkansas-Pine Bluff scored 13 runs over the final three innings to rally from an nine-run deficit and defeat Southern 17-16 in the second game of a doubleheader Saturday at the Torii Hunter Baseball Complex.
“That was our best win ever,” UAPB head coach Carlos James said. “It was certainly my best win ever.
“I have never been a part of something like that. Not as a coach. That is the best ever.”
UAPB scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth, three in the seventh and six in the bottom of the eighth to rally from a 13-4 deficit. And after losing the first game 4-3, it was a much-needed win for the Golden Lions.
“You ask your team to do all that, to always play hard and never quit,” James said. “… It never usually comes to that. But it did, for us.
“And thank God for it.”
Gavin Webster gave Southern (6-17, 2-10 SWAC) a 16-11 lead in the top of the eighth thanks to a leadoff solo home run. UAPB (11-22, 11-5) answered with six runs in the bottom of the eighth to take its first lead of the game since the third inning.
Joshua Cassidy led off the eighth with a walk and moved to second on a stolen base. With one out, senior Mike Wieland reached on an error and it put runners at the corners. A walk to Rashawn Tillman — his third of the game — loaded the bases.
Mitch Bruckshaw was hit-by-a-pitch, forcing in a run. A walk to leadoff hitter Vladimir Gomez plated a second run and a two-run double by Tyler Oertle got the Lions within one run.
Isias Alcantar hit a two-run single up the middle to give UAPB the one-run lead.
“That was a great win,” James said. “We were down 13-4 and to score 13 runs over the last three innings, that is huge.
“That’s all I can say.”
The win keeps UAPB in first place. Texas Southern, who is currently one game behind the Lions, played a pair of nonconference games this weekend in Texas.
“It is unbelievable,” James said. “In the SWAC race, that is big for us.”
UAPB will try to win the series when it wraps up the three-game homestand at 1 p.m. Sunday
“I’m going to let them enjoy it until first pitch (Sunday),” James said. “I’m not even going to tell them to turn it off.
“I’m going to let them enjoy it.”
UAPB also scored a run in the first and three in the second.
Gomez finished the game 5 for 5 with seven RBIs and four runs scored. He had a three-run home run in the second, a one-run double in the sixth and a two-run single in the seventh.
“He came in and he sparked us,” James said. “He did a great job.
“… He stepped in when he got his chance to start and he did a great job. He obviously earned another start (today).”
Alcantar was 3 for 6 with five RBIs and a run scored. Oertle was 1 for 3 with two runs and two RBIs.
Kevin Walsh pitched two innings and allowed just one run (earned) on one hit with two strikeouts and one walk in his first win of the season.
Starter Mikey Ramirez ended up with a no-decision as he gave up eight runs (all earned) on 12 hits in just five innings of work.
In the first game of the doubleheader, Southern won 4-3 after Sean Washington hit a solo home run in the top of the ninth off relief pitcher Dixon Marble.
Marble gave up one run (earned) on three hits with one strikeout in 2 1/3 innings.
Jim Ploeger had to settle for a no-decision after 6 2/3 innings. He gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits with three walks and seven strikeouts.
Southern’s Santos Saldivar pitched eight innings in the win. He allowed three runs (two earned) on eight hits with three walks and five strikeouts.
Southern scored three of its runs in the seventh and UAPB tallied a run in the third, fourth and sixth innings. Jordan Haas led the Lions with two hits in two trips.