The Arkansas-Pine Bluff baseball team's SWAC tournament hopes took a big hit this weekend as the Golden Lions were swept by Texas Southern over the weekend.
The Arkansas-Pine Bluff baseball team’s SWAC tournament hopes took a big hit this weekend as the Golden Lions were swept by Texas Southern over the weekend.
UAPB (6-32-1, 5-13 SWAC) lost the three games by a combined four runs, including an extra-inning affair against Texas Southern (21-20, 8-12) that ended in a 2-1 loss.
“It was tough dropping the one-run games and having one in extra innings, but the kids fought hard,” UAPB coach Carlos James said. “Texas Southern has been playing well lately and they are scrappy. I think we were evenly matched with them, but I think they made the plays down the stretch.”
The three losses moves UAPB to the cellar of the SWAC West division and three games out of a SWAC tournament spot. But with six conference games yet, James thinks the Lions can make up ground yet.
“We aren’t mathematically eliminated yet, so we are going to fight hard every day,” he said. “The West division is really strong.”
Texas Southern moves into the fourth and final spot in the SWAC tournament for the moment with the three victories. The Tigers are a game behind Grambling State (17-19, 9-9 SWAC), and the two teams meet this weekend.
James will be keeping a close eye on that series.
“We need one of those teams to sweep the other,” he said. “It doesn’t matter which one does and that would give us a chance.”
The Lions have a non-conference opponent to focus on first, though, as UAPB takes on Stephen F. Austin at 1 p.m. today at Torii Hunter Baseball Complex. UAPB returns to conference action this weekend for three home games against Prairie View A&M (20-18, 11-6), the No. 2 team in the West.
After Prairie View, the Lions will face Southern (25-14, 14-7), which is riding a 10-game SWAC winning streak to claim the top spot in the West.
James said the team will have to win four of its next six conference games to go along with a sweep by either TSU or Grambling State to have a shot a the SWAC tournament.
“It’s a big task, the way they go out and play hard, we can do it,” he said. “We could be 13-5 instead of 5-13 if you look at the scores, and I am optimistic and I think we still have a chance.”
UAPB was scheduled to play a home game against Arkansas-Monticello next Wednesday, but the game was canceled.
TRACK AND FIELD
This was supposed to be a learning year for sophomore thrower Erick Thomas, but with his performance during the outdoor season, the bar has been raised.
This past weekend, Thomas threw a personal best 180 feet, 2.75 inches in the javelin to win the event at the University of Central Arkansas Relays this past weekend. He also finished second in the discus (151-3.25) and the hammer throw (139-2) to go along with a third-place finish in the shot put (43-8).
“He had a great weekend,” UAPB track and field coach Christopher McCoy said. “He had a personal best in the javelin and we are looking for good things from him in the SWAC.”
The SWAC championship is May 4-6 in New Orleans, and McCoy expects Thomas to be on the medal stand in all four events.
That was not the case when the season started. McCoy was just hoping Thomas would learn the ropes of the throwing events by the SWAC championship.
“There weren’t big expectations and he was just learning,” he said. “Just was expecting him to get used to doing the events, and he gets better every week.”
Thomas had the right people around him to learn from as well. Terron Armstead won the shot put at last year’s SWAC Championships and has a 60-foot throw under his belt this year.
Jerron White — who finished sixth in the shot put (37-3.25), fourth in the hammer throw (119-8.5) and the fifth in the javelin (156-7.5) — claimed second place in the javelin last year at the SWAC Championship.
“(Erick) did learn a lot from them,” McCoy said. “I expect Erick to finish first or second in the javelin at the SWAC Championship and I expect him to be in the top five for the rest.”
Even though Thomas is having a breakout year, McCoy is looking forward to having him around for two more years.
“The sky is the limit for him,” he said. “He is going to learn more and more and he is going to be doing big throws in the future.”
Ninfa Barnard won the women’s 800-meter run at the UCA Relays with a personal best time of 2 minutes, 9.89 seconds. Alicia Johnson finished third in the same event (2:16.92) and Jessica Liddell came in second place in the triple jump (37-4).
The UAPB men’s and women’s tennis teams each made it to the semifinals in the SWAC tournament this weekend.
The men were bounced out by Prairie View A&M 4-2 in the semifinals. Eduardo Luque earned All-SWAC honors winning his singles match 6-2, 6-0 in the semifinals, and he teamed up for an 8-6 victory in doubles play.
Alcorn State beat UAPB 4-0 in the women’s semifinals and Monica Arcos was named to the All-SWAC team.