April 3, 2009

ISLANDERS FALL 3-1 IN OPENER TO LAMAR

BEAUMONT -- The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi baseball team lost 3-1 Friday night to Lamar in the opening game of the three-game set at Vincent-Beck Stadium.

With the loss, the Islanders fall to 3-10 in the Southland Conference and 11-19 overall. Lamar becomes the first SLC team to win 20 games on the year and is now 7-6 in the league.

The game was a pitcher's duel between Andrew Toppert of the Islanders and Eric Harrington of the Cardinals with the game tied one until the bottom of the sixth inning. With two away, Andy Mena singled and went to second as Toppert walked V.J. Brunner before leaving the game. After Brett Carnline walked the one batter he faced, Brian Taylor broke the tie with a two-run double down the right-field line for the eventual winning run off Brandon Orr.

The Islanders would get no more than one base runner in each of their final three turns at the plate.

Toppert (1-4) suffered the loss despite allowing three runs. He scattered seven hits while walking four. After Carnline and Orr finished the sixth, Bryant Sparkman tossed two shutout innings to keep the Islanders close.

"Toppert may not have great stuff as he walked some batters, but I really thought he competed tonight," said Islander head coach Scott Malone, whose team allowed a season-low three runs in conference play in the game. "He was able to finish off some innings when he was in trouble which was the biggest difference in his performance tonight.

"Harrington threw 105 pitches and over 70 of those were strikes. He was really good tonight."

Harrington (5-0) earned the win as he allowed one unearned run over seven innings striking out seven. He overcame four uncharacteristic errors by his defense and scattered eight hits. Taylor McInnis allowed one hit in the eighth before James Brandhorst struckout two and permitted a hit in the ninth to record his second save.

Each team plated a run in the second inning.

With two away, Weston Montgomery singled for the Islanders and went to second as centerfielder Quentin Luquette misplayed the ball. Justin Greiner made the Cardinals pay with a single up the middle.

Lamar tied the game in the bottom of the inning. With one away, Luquette drew a walk from Toppert and stole second. After Mena grounded out to first, V.J. Bunner drove in Luquette with a single to right.

The Islanders would threaten in the top of the third and sixth innings.

Jonathan Reyes led off the third with a single. He went to second on a failed pickoff attempt and to third when second baseman Brian Taylor threw the ball away trying to catch Reyes at second after fielding a pop fly for the second out. He would be left stranded as Parra grounded out.

In the sixth, Jacob Perales drew a walk the only walk allowed by Harrington and went to second a single to left by Parra. Harrington, who had seven of the Cardinals 10 strikeouts on the day, ended the inning by striking out Trey Hernandez and Montgomery.

"We had some chances to get the big hit in the early and middle innings and we didn't," said Malone. "Lamar got the big hit in the sixth and we never were able to come up with and that is the difference."

Parra and Montgomery each had three hits as the Islanders finished with 10. Mena led the Cardinals with three, while Steven Tucker collected two of the team's 10.

The series continues on Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.