Trojans on conference losing streak
After picking up a 6-5 non-conference home win against the University of Central Arkansas on Tuesday, April 19, UALR was swept for the second consecutive weekend. The Florida International Golden Panthers finished the Trojans off 17-7 in the series finale on Sunday, April 24, at Gary Hogan Field. UALR lost 13-1 on Friday night and 8-4 on Saturday. The South Alabama Jaguars swept the team in Mobile, Ala., April 15-17.
The Trojans (16-23, 6-12 SBC) got three hits and an unearned run in Friday’s game against FIU. The offense woke up a little in the second game and posted four runs with help from catcher Niko Navarro’s 2 for 4 day with an RBI. Senior second baseman Jason Houston (3 for 4) and senior first baseman Jake Rowell (3 for 5) each hit home runs in the third game and the Trojans had 12 hits for the game.
UALR senior third baseman Casey McCollum grounded into a double play with the bases loaded to end the 17-7 loss on Sunday. Although the Trojans were down by 10 runs with little hope of the win, hitting coach Jeremy Haworth said it has been instances like those that has hurt the hitting.
“Like Casey’s last at bat when he grounded in the double play, the [pitcher] just walked two batters in a row and wasn’t commanding off-speed, and [McCollum] swings at a first-pitch slider” Haworth said. “That’s when you’re going to get yourself in a hole. That’s when hitters have to realize you can’t let the pitcher dictate you. You dictate that pitcher. There was a lot of that the first two games of the series. There were a lot of pitches we just didn’t swing at that were right there that we should’ve just hammered.”
The Trojan hitters may have had a tough time at the plate, but the pitching staff had it worse. The Trojans have been outscored 79-28 (13.2-4.7 average per game) the past two Sun Belt Conference series. The staff has an 11.50 ERA in those six games.
“It starts on the mound, it ends on the mound,” Haworth said. “We haven’t had a good performance this whole weekend – from starting pitching to the bullpen.”
“We couldn’t stop the bleeding. We couldn’t stop the bleeding all weekend. There seems to be a pattern right now – this has been going on for two weekends in a row now. We just have to find somebody that wants to get the job done. That’s all there is to it. If not, we’re going to be bleeding for awhile, till something stops.”
The UALR pitching staff is last in the conference with a 6.34 ERA and are letting opposing hitters bat .311 against them. They lead the conference in wild pitches (40) balks (8), and are second to last in walks allowed with 191.
“It’s commanding their secondary pitch,” Haworth said. “The walks have killed us all year. If we could command two pitches, I think we could be effective. It seems like one inning we’ll go out there with command of the fastball. The next we won’t command fastball, but we’ll command off-speed. We haven’t done a good job of keeping them off balance.”
The Trojans will look to end their losing streak and will travel to Lafayette, La., to continue SBC action. UALR will play the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (23-18, 10-8 SBC) on Friday at 6 p.m.