UAPB sweeps Southern in baseball

A day after Southern’s baseball team struggled to pull together what, at times, was an effective hitting and pitching performance, the Jaguars simply struggled Sunday afternoon.

With Arkansas-Pine Bluff starter Jim Ploeger throwing eight strong innings, the Golden Lions completed a three-game sweep of Southern with a 9-2 win at Lee-Hines Field in the Jaguars’ first Southwestern Athletic Conference series of the season.

For Southern (2-8, 0-3), the shaky start put a spotlight on young players and first-time starters.

“We can’t go get anyone else,” Southern coach Roger Cador said. “We’ve got to get better with what we’ve got. I know you hate losing your first series 3-0, but we’ve got 20 games left.

“If we play good (the rest of the way), all of this will be forgotten.”

UAPB catcher Mike Wieland did most of the damage leading a 16-hit attack by going 2-for-5 and knocking in five runs. Southern never did retire shortstop Isias Alcantar, who went 5-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI.

Also notching multi-hit games were third baseman Joshua Cassidy (3-for-5) and right fielder Jeremiah Figueroa (2-for-5).

“This continues to establish what we wanted when I came here,” UAPB coach Carlos James said after his team improved to 4-10 overall and 4-1 in SWAC play.

“Now, when we play, we expect to win. We used to be what I call the lovable losers, but our expectations have changed.”

UAPB jumped on Southern starter Conner Baumgardner (0-1) with three first-inning runs. Wieland’s RBI double, and Cassidy’s two-out RBI single were the key hits.

Baumgardner was lifted after throwing 21 pitches to seven batters. J’Markus George came in to get the final out of the first and followed that with four scoreless innings. It was an effort that easily provided the highlight of Southern’s day.

Southern responded with a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the first off of Jim Ploeger (1-1). Lance Jones and Phillip Williams reached base and both scored on a throwing error by Wieland.

UAPB threatened to extend its lead in the fifth when Alcantar and Cassidy reached base on one-out singles. Figueroa followed with a single to left that appeared to score Alcantar, but Alcantar was called out for interfering with Southern third baseman Robinson Mateo.

James was thrown out of the game after arguing the call, but it had little effect on the Golden Lions’ play.

“Even when I was ejected from the game, (the team) actually played better,” James said. “That lets you know something right there. If the program is set up right, it still runs without the coach. They did a great job and kept playing the game the right way.”

UAPB added a solo run in the sixth and broke open the game with a five-run seventh.

Southern used six pitchers, but none were able to slow down the UAPB bats after George left.

“I didn’t like anything other than what (George) did,” Cador said. “We started Baumgardner based on his last performance. He was steady then, but he disappointed us today. That’s what happens with freshmen. We don’t have the book on them yet.”