Golden Lions pound Braves, even series

Brandon Simon of UAPB slides into third base and then takes off for home plate as directed by Coach Carlos James after a passed ball by Alcorn State in the second inning Friday at Bill Jones Field at Torii Hunter Complex. At third base is Nathan Gamez of Alcorn State. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)
Brandon Simon of UAPB slides into third base and then takes off for home plate as directed by Coach Carlos James after a passed ball by Alcorn State in the second inning Friday at Bill Jones Field at Torii Hunter Complex. At third base is Nathan Gamez of Alcorn State. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)

One day after giving up an early lead, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff pounded Alcorn State to even the weekend series.

The UAPB baseball team won 29-3 in seven innings at the Torii Hunter Baseball Complex in Pine Bluff, the Golden Lions' first SWAC win of the season.

UAPB (10-17, 1-7 SWAC) scored in every inning. The Golden Lions took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on an RBI groundout by designated hitter Carlos Rodriguez-Velez, then added 6 runs in the second. They added an unearned run in the third and 3 more runs in the fourth.

The Braves' starting pitcher, Kewan Braziel (0-6), exited after the fourth inning with Alcorn trailing 11-3. He allowed 7 earned runs on 12 hits while striking out three hitters and walking three.

In the series opener Thursday, UAPB pounded the Alcorn State (2-17, 1-6) starter but struggled against the bullpen. Friday, UAPB dominated three Alcorn relievers, scoring 8 runs, 6 of them earned, in the fifth inning against sophomore Hayden Konkler and 10 runs, 6 earned, in the sixth against sophomore Myles Dews and freshman Caden Wade.

UAPB coach Carlos James said the Golden Lions' hitters were focused Friday.

"Nobody gave away an at-bat today," James said. "Usually, in the past few games, if somebody gets a pitch or a bad call or they swing at a bad pitch, they kind of lose that at-bat. But today, all of them did a good job of staying locked in today. Hopefully, that can breed over into tomorrow."

UAPB centerfielder Gavin Terry hit 4 for 4 with 3 RBIs and 2 runs, while leftfielder Darrius Brown hit 4 for 4 with an RBI and 3 runs. Second baseman Jose Rubalcava hit 2 for 5 with 3 RBIs and 2 runs.

The Golden Lions brought in seven substitutes toward the end of the game, but all nine starting hitters scored, and all but catcher Brant Voth drove in runs. Voth scored 3 runs.

Alcorn State won the series opener 8-7 in 10 innings Thursday after UAPB had led 6-1 after the second inning. Terry said Friday, the Golden Lions showed how well they can play.

"We just kept pouring it on," Terry said. "I feel like later in the game [Thursday], we didn't score. We got stranded a little bit, put up a lot of zeroes. I feel like today, we just kept pouring it on, one, two, three, it didn't matter. We just kept pouring it on them, kept applying pressure."

UAPB senior righthander Jacob Ehling (3-3) pitched all seven innings. He gave up 3 runs on eight hits but had four strikeouts with no walks.

The Golden Lions used three relievers in Thursday's game. James said Ehling going the distance Friday makes a big difference for Saturday's finale.

"Being an older guy, that's what you want," James said. "You hadn't had a conference win all year yet, and your senior steps up on the mound and be that kind of stopper guy and go, 'OK. Today, we're winning today. As long as you guys do y'all job, then I'll take care of the rest.' He did a really good job today, and I'm proud of him."

Alcorn's runs came in the top of the third inning when the Braves tallied five hits against Ehling. Four of the first five hitters combined for three singles and a double. Alcorn catcher Dillon Crowell's single drove in shortstop Garrett Palladino to cut UAPB's lead to 7-3 at the time, but Ehling ended the inning with a strikeout.

With UAPB scoring 6 or more runs in three innings and batting around twice, Ehling had to sit for long periods of time between innings, but this didn't hurt him. After allowing two base runners in the fourth, Ehling retired the last 11 hitters he faced. No hitter reached base after Ehling's second time through the lineup.

Ehling said pitching coach Shane Youman-Osuoha helped him get through those long innings.

"Coach Youman just said keep loose," Ehling said. "Did some sprints, just mentally ready. But that's baseball, so I gotta be ready all the time."

The series finale is set for 1 p.m. Saturday.

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