March 17, 2009

ISLANDERS END STREAK WITH WIN OVER RED RAIDERS

The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi baseball team knocked off a Big 12 team for the first time since the 2005 season snapping a seven-game losing streak with a 7-5 win over Texas Tech on Tuesday night at Whataburger Field.

With the win, the Islanders moved to 5-15 on the season, while the Red Raiders drop to 8-11. The win was the fourth all-time for A&M-Corpus Christi against a Big 12 school and the first since the Islanders downed Oklahoma State 2-1 in 15 innings at Fairgrounds Field on Feb. 25, 2005. It was the Islanders first win in 10 attempts against Texas Tech.

The Islanders fell behind when the Red Raiders plated an unearned run in the top of the third inning thanks to a pair of errors by A&M-Corpus Christi starting pitcher Andrew Toppert. Toppert went five innings, giving up one unearned run on three hits. He walked two and struck out five Red Raider batters before giving way to Brett Carnline, who allowed a run on three hits in two innings of work.

"Andrew really commanded the strike zone tonight," said Islander head coach Scott Malone. "He really went after their guys and the only time he got in trouble was when he had two errors.

"He gave us the start that we desperately needed to help get out of this slide. Brett really pitched with a lot of energy. He may not have had Toppert's command, but I felt he gave us a lot of energy with his performance."

The Islanders responded in the bottom of the fifth to make it 1-1. With one out in the inning, Stephen Flora reached base on a walk, stole second base and came around to score on a Martin Parra single through the left side to tie the score.

The Red Raiders scored one run in the top of the sixth inning to regain a 2-1 lead. After leading off the inning with a single and advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt, Scott LeJeune crossed the plate on a double down the line in left by Taylor Ashby.

The Islanders responded with three runs in the bottom half of the sixth to take their first lead of the game. Weston Montgomery singled to the shortstop and advanced to third base on an Ernie Olivarez single through the right side. Brycen Bell followed with a double down the left field line to score Montgomery and put runners at second and third with Flora coming to the plate.

Tech elected to intentionally walk Flora to load the bases. After a strikeout by Jacob Perales, Parra made the Red Raiders pay with a two-run single to center field, scoring both Olivarez and Bell to put the Islanders up 4-2.

"When Parra's hit gave us a two-run advantage it felt like the gorilla jumped off our back," said Malone. "We had been trying for so long to get the two-out hit that it was causing us a lot of tension. Once he got that hit it seemed to loosen us up at the plate."

The Islanders added to their lead in the bottom of the seventh when they plated three more runs.

Trey Hernandez started off the action with a one-out walk off Brian Cloud. Montgomery followed with a single to center to put runners at first and second. Olivarez singled to load the bases for Bell. Bell came up with a big single to score pinch runner Chris Famiglietti and Hernandez to put TAMUCC up 6-2 with runners on first and second. After an attempted double steal saw Bell thrown at out second with Olivarez advancing to third, Flora reached on a throwing error by the third baseman to plate Olivarez and put the lead at 7-2 Islanders.

After getting a single run in the eighth off Brett Gibson, the Red Raiders made it interesting with two runs in the ninth, but Bryant Sparkman, who came on in relief in the eighth, did enough to earn his first save of the season. Sparkman hit Joey Kenworthy to start the inning and went to second on a hit by Chris Richburg. After getting LeJeune to line into a double play, Sparkman gave up a two-run home run to Justin Berry. Ashby followed with his second double of the game before Jeremy Mayo popped up to short to end the game.

Bell led the Islanders with three hits on the night as they finished with 12. Bell and Parra each knocked in three RBI to pace the Islanders. Parra, Justin Greiner, Montgomery and Olivarez added two hits apiece for TAMUCC. Michael Reed, Ashby and Kenworthy each had a pair of hits for the Red Raiders.

Brett Carnline got the win for the Islanders, pitching two innings in relief, giving up one run on three hits. He struck out two while walking none. Brett Gibson pitched in relief, going two-thirds of an inning, giving up one run on no hits while walking three batters. Sparkman finished off the game, pitching one and one-third innings, giving up two runs, both earned, on three hits.

"We've been saying we need to get some positive momentum going and hopefully tonight give us some," said Malone.