SAN ANTONIO The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi baseball team rallied for six runs in the top of the ninth to pull away in a topsy-turvy game with UTSA for a 14-9 win at Roadrunner Field on Sunday.
With the win, the Islanders claimed their first Southland Conference series of the season. After dropping the first game on Friday 10-9, A&M-Corpus Christi won 11-10 on Saturday as the teams combined for 63 runs in the series. The Islanders move to 3-9 in the SLC and are now 11-18 on the year. UTSA, which entered the weekend in a tie for first in the league, is now 15-10 and 7-5.
"This was huge for us," said Islander head coach Scott Malone. "We showed a lot of life against one of the better teams in the league. We played with a lot of passion which is something that we had not done. I told the guys to enjoy the series win. This really makes you wonder how we got here though, but it makes the guys realize how good we can be."
Trailing 9-8 heading into the top of the ninth the deck seemed stacked against the Islanders as the 7-8-9 hitters were coming to plate and had gone 0-for-8 until that point. UTSA also entered Zach Calhoon (3-2), who is considered the top closer in the SLC, on the mound to seal the win.
However that would no be the case. Weston Montgomery and Brycen Bell opened the inning with back-to-back singles. Calhoon then hit Ernie Olivarez to load the bases. Jonathan Reyes, who had hit a solo home run in the sixth, drove in the tying and go-ahead runs with a single up the middle.
Stephen Flora then sealed the win with a three-run home run to left-center field. It was Flora's sixth home run of the season and gave him four RBI on the day. The final run came as Montgomery single to right with his second hit of the inning to plate Jacob Perales. The 14 runs were a season-high for the Islanders.
Trey Hernandez, who entered with no outs in the seventh, would shut the door in the ninth. After earning a save on Saturday, the sophomore earned his first win by tossing three innings of one-hit baseball.
The six-run ninth was needed as the Islanders blew an earlier eight-run lead. Trailing 8-1, UTSA scored three runs in the sixth and five in the seventh to retake the lead.
In the sixth, UTSA plated three runs against Islander starter Roy Ferdin, who had allowed just three hits in the first five innings. Jose Hernandez began the inning with a solo home run. Ferdin then left after loading the bases by allowing consecutive singles to Aaron Powell and Ryan Rummel before walking Jason Mohn.
Ferdin went five innings giving up four runs with three earned on six hits with a strikeout and four walks.
"Ferdin gave us a relatively good start," said Malone. "He put himself in some tough jams, but worked out of it by putting the ball in play by pitching in the bottom of the strike zone. He let the defense make plays behind him and I thought we were really good on defense."
Brett Gips relieved Ferdin and walked Lance Brown to let the second run score. Rummel crossed the plate as the Islanders turned a double play. Gips would not allow another hit in an inning of work.
In the seventh, UTSA scored five times off Bryant Sparkman and Jake Liedka. Marshal Davis greeted Sparkman with a solo home run. Sparkman then gave up three straight hits to allow the second run to score. Liedka entered and allowed a three-run home to catch Ryan Rummel that gave the hosts the 9-8 lead.
A&M-Corpus Christi had taken a 7-0 lead after 4-1/2 innings and lead 8-1 after batting in the sixth.
The Islanders struck first with a pair of runs in the top of the first. Reyes led off the game being by hit by a Ryan Proudfoot pitch. A&M-Corpus Christi followed with three straight hits. After a single by Flora moved Reyes to third, Perales singled up the middle to plate Reyes. Flora scored on a base hit by Martin Parra for a 2-0 lead.
A&M-Corpus Christi extended its lead with four runs in the fourth inning. Ernie Olivarez led off the winning with a walk, stole second and went to third on a bloop hit to right by Reyes. Olivarez scored on a sacrifice fly by Flora. After Reyes scampered home on a wild pitch, Trey Hernandez belted his third home run of the series off Casey Selsor to drive in Perales.
Jonathan Reyes made it a 7-0 game in the top of the fifth with a solo home run in the top of the sixth.
UTSA broke through with an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth to make it a 7-1 game, but the Islanders responded a run of their own in the top of the inning to lead 8-1 as Marek scored following a Ryan Hutson error.
"We did a great job of hitting early and set the tone, but I was a little disappointed that we let them off the hook somewhat in the middle of the game," said Malone. "I thought we had a good matchup with Matt Crocker, but didn't get a hit off him."
A&M-Corpus Christi finsihed with 16 hits led by Reyes, who was 4-for-4 with four runs scored, three RBI and has reached base safelys even straight times. Flora added three hits with four RBI, while Perales, Montgomery, and Hernandez each had two. Rummel led UTSA with three hits and drove in three runs.
The Islanders are off this week until visiting Lamar next weekend in Beaumont for a three-game series.
"It was a big win for us," said Malone. "Now our reward is we get to go face Lamar next weekend and face another top team."