ISLANDER PITCHING, PARRA'S BLAST PROPEL SWEEP OF TECH
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi senior Martin Parra broke a 2-2 tie with a grand slam in the bottom of the fifth inning and the Islander pitching tandem of Jake Liedka and Trey Hernandez combined on a two-hitter as they knocked off Texas Tech to complete the sweep of the two-game series with a 6-2 win on Wednesday night at Whataburger Field.
The win improved the Islander record to 6-15 as they won two in a row for the second time this season. It marked the first time they have won back-to-back games against a Big 12 opponent. The Red Raiders (8-12) are the only Big 12 school with two losses to the Islanders.
The Islanders will look to continue their streak against McNeese State this weekend in a Southland Conference series. The series will begin at 2 p.m. on Friday with A&M-Corpus Christi looking to capture its first SLC win of the season.
"During batting practice before the first game, I was talking with (Texas Tech head coach) Dan (Spencer) about how quickly things can change," said Islander head coach Scott Malone. "You can be struggling and then get a win and all of a sudden you have a stretch you go 6-2. It is amazing how quickly things can spin around the other way.
"Today's win was definitely no fluke. We out-hit them, out-pitched them and played strong defense."
For the second game in a row, Parra, who had eight RBI in the two-game set, broke a 2-2 tie with a crucial hit. On Wednesday, Parra greeted the second pitch from Robert Kilcrease by smashing it down the line in left. He broke a 2-2 tie on Tuesday night with a two-run single to spark the Islanders in the opening game.
The four-run shot was all Liedka and Hernandez needed. Liedka would earn his first win of the season by allowing solo home runs to Chris Richburg and Justin Berry over five innings. He struckout three batters and walked three. Hernandez earned his first career save by tossing four perfect innings with a pair of strikeouts.
"All of sudden when things start going good everyone wants to hit and everyone wants to pitch," said Malone. "They really start to feed off of each other. Trey saw how things had gone for Jake today and Andrew yesterday and wanted to be a part of it. Things really begin to feed off of each other. We just hope we can keep feeding off these wins."
The Islanders took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning. Jon Reyes led off the inning with a single on the first pitch from Brandon Foster through the left side. Weston Montgomery followed up with a long double to center field, hitting the base of the wall enabling Reyes to come all the way around from first and score. Stephen Flora followed with a single of his own, putting runners at first and third. With one away, Parra picked up his first of five RBI, grounding out to the shortstop to score Montgomery from third.
The Red Raiders evened the score in the next half-inning. The first two batters of the inning, Chris Richburg and Justin Berry hit solo home runs to left field to tie it at 2-2 at the top of the fourth.
The Islanders stormed back with a grand slam off the bat of Parra to retake the lead at 6-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning. Reyes led off the inning with a walk and moved over to third on a Montgomery single. With one away, Perales drew another walk from reliever Louis Head, who suffered the loss, to load the bases for Parra. Parra ripped the 2-0 pitch down the left-field line, hitting a massive shot to clear the bases and give the Islanders the 6-2 lead.
"I told Parra and the whole team that I will never forget that home run," said Malone. "It is one of those plays which shows why they are here and not playing NAIA or Division II and Division III. It is the opportunity on the big stage to have a defining moment like the grand slam. Hopefully we can continue to build on it."
Montgomery led the Islanders with three hits as they finished with nine. Ernie Olivarez added two.