The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth and had the tying run at the plate but came up short 7-4 in their Southland Conference opener versus Texas State at Whataburger Field on Friday night.
The Islanders drop to 1-5 with the loss, while Texas State is now 4-2.
Trailing 7-1 entering the bottom of the ninth, Jeramie Marek reached with his fourth single of the game to start the inning. Marek advanced to second on wild pitch by reliever Tim Heath before Brycen Bell walked. With one out, Martin Parra singled to load the bases for Trey Hernandez.
After Marek crossed the plate on a wild pitch, Hernandez, who has struggled early this season, drove in Bell on a grounder. Freshman Weston Montgomery followed with an RBI single for the first hit of his collegiate career.
Justin Greiner kept the rally alive by bringing the tying run to the plate with a single. Jacob Perez then came in to pinch hit for Ernie Olivarez, but was sent down on strikes by Tyler Brundridge. Brundridge earned his second save of the year.
"It is conference play and you expect every game to be competitive," said Islander head coach Scott Malone. "But the hitters need to do things better earlier on."
Until that point it was a frustrating night for the Islanders. A&M-Corpus Christi out hit the visitors 13-10 but left 12 runners stranded. Defensively, they allowed three unearned runs for the Bobcats
Texas State scored four runs in the first three innings off Islanders starter Andrew Toppert (0-2) including two unearned. Toppert allowed four runs with two earned on six hits in three innings of work.
Keith Prestridge, who added a two-run home run off Justin Grota in the sixth, drove in the first run of the game in the first. After Tyler Sibley reached on error to start the game, he moved to second on sacrifice bunt and scored on a two-out hit by Prestridge. In the second, Ben Theriot drove in Lance Loftin with single and scored later as Adam Witek hit into a double play.
In the third, Sibley started the inning with a lead-off single and went to second on an errant throw by Toppert on a pick-off attempt. With one out, he scored on a double down the line by Paul Goldschmidt.
A&M-Corpus Christi had a chance in the bottom of the third to get back in the game. With one out, Marek and Bell posted back-to-back singles. Jacob Perales filled the bases by reaching on an error bring the 3-4-5 hitters to the plate for the Islanders. Parra hit into a fielder's choice with Marek tossed out at home, while Hernandez ripped a liner that Tritz snared on the mound.
"The guys we are counting to produce didn't do what we needed them to," said Malone. "We count on our 3-4-5 hitters to produce runs and they didn't. They are good players and we have expectations they will come out and get it done tomorrow."
A&M-Corpus Christi would get their first two runners on base in the fifth as Chris Famiglietti walked and Marek singled. After Bell popped out and Marek was retired on a fielder's choice by Perales, Parra drove in his first of two runs with a single to right. Tritz, who struck out six, sent Hernandez down on strikes swinging to end the inning.
Prestridge would belt a two-run home run in the sixth after a two-out walk was issued by Grota to Goldschmidt. In the seventh, a fielding error by Bell accounted for the Bobcats seventh run.
In the bottom of the seventh, TAMUCC again had runners on base with one out and the middle of the order coming to the plate, but was unsuccessful getting a run across.
Aside from the two-out homer by Prestridge, the Islander bullpen was solid against the Bobcats. Grota allowed two runs on one hit in three innings. Brett Gips gave up an unearned run in two innings of work, while Phillip Garcia was perfect in the ninth.
"The bullpen threw strikes and did a better job of keeping the ball low," said Malone. "The bullpen made one mistake with a walk and they made us pay for it and that is why they are one of the top three teams in the league."
Tritz went eight innings for the Bobcats for his second win. He permitted one run on nine hits while walking two and fanning six.
A&M-Corpus Christi finished with 13 hits led by Marek's four and Greiner's three. Parra and Bell each added two. Sibley, Prestridge and Theriot each had two for Texas State.
The series continues on Saturday with a 2 p.m. game. The series concludes on Sunday at 2 p.m.