PITCHING ALLOWS EARLY ISLANDER SURGE TO STAND IN WIN
The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi baseball received a solid balance of hitting and pitching Saturday afternoon to down Stephen F. Austin 8-6 claiming its second Southland Conference series in the past three weeks.
"Today was a great way to finish off a series," said head coach Scott Malone. "Whether at home or at UTSA it is never easy to win a series in the Southland Conference. It was an important win. We aren't counting wins to get in the tournament in May. Our focus is to see how many series we can win. If we win series we put ourselves in a position to make the tournament. We have to take it one game at a time."
The Islanders, who move to 13-22 overall and 5-13 in the SLC, scored multiple runs in the second, third and fourth innings while limiting SFA to one in each of the same innings to a take a 7-3 lead.
After the Lumberjacks (13-19, 6-11 SLC) scored an unearned run of Andrew Toppert in the second, the Islanders took their first lead of the game with two in the bottom of the inning. Brycen Bell led the inning of with a single to right and moved to third on a single by Jeramie Marek and throwing error by Bo Coffman. The Islanders loaded the bases as Jared Schrom waked Jeremy Narvaez with one out. Bell tied the game as he scored on a sacrifice fly by Ernie Olivarez. Jacob Perales singled to left-center for the second run.
Sean Meyers picked up his first of two RBI in the third. Jeffrey Kello doubled off Toppert to start the inning and with two outs scored on a single by Meyers up the middle.
The Islanders seized control of the game with three runs in the third off Schrom (0-1), who took the loss as he allowed six runs with five earned on eight hits in three innings. A lead-off double by Martin Parra and bunt single by Stephen Flora put runners on the corners for A&M-Corpus Christ with no outs. Bell brought in Parra with a sacrifice fly. Marek moved Flora to third with a single before stealing second. After Jonathan Reyes drew a walk to load the bases, Flora scored on a wild pitch. Narvaez drove in his second run of the season with a sacrifice fly to right plating Marek for a 5-2 lead.
Following a RBI double by Kello in the fourth, Montgomery chased Schrom from the game in the bottom of the frame with a lead-off single. With one away, Flora reached on a fielder's choice by Kello, who had one of his two errors on the play allowing Montgomery to go to third. After Flora stole second, Marek drove in two more runs with a single to right for a 7-3 lead.
In the top of the fifth, Philip Garcia relieved Toppert and gave up a solo home run Meyers to ignite a three-run frame for the visitors. With one out, Justin Long singled, went to second on an Islander error and to third on a balk by Garcia. Long crossed the plate as Olivarez booted a grounder to second allowing Bo Coffman to reach.
Joe Staley followed with a double off Bryant Sparkman to put runners at second and third. After allowing the final run of the inning to score on a grounder, Bell ended the inning with a diving grab of a grounder by Kello ending the inning.
Sparkman would one-hit SFA in his next 3-1/3 innings striking out four and walking two. Sparkman would be credited with his first win of the season moving to 1-1.
After leaving the bases loaded in a bizarre bottom of the sixth inning, the Islanders pushed their lead to two in the seventh. Olivarez was hit by a pitch by Chris Court to start the inning and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Perales. With two outs, Olivarez scored from second on a throwing error by Kello on a grounder by Parra.
The tying run for the Jacks came to the plate in the eighth and the winning run in the ninth. Sparkman and the Islanders turned a double play in the eighth to get out of the inning. In the ninth, Trey Hernandez entered after Tanner Hines walked and recorded two straight outs. Hernandez brought the go-ahead run to the plate in Long with a walk, but ended the game with his second strikeout as Coffman went down swinging to earn his fourth save of the season and second of the series.
"It was vintage Sparkman today," said Malone. "We saw the guy today who carried us last season out of the bullpen. Trey then came in and dominated some of their hitters, It wasn't clean but he got the outs.
"The bullpen was good today, but I also thought Toppert had a good start. It wasn't dominating, but it was a good performance."
A&M-Corpus Christi and SFA each had 10 hits. For the Islanders, it was the 10th time in the last 13 games with 10 base hits. Freshmen Marek and Montgomery led the way with three and two hits, respectively. Meyers had three of the Jacks hits as their top two hitters went 0-for-9 in the game.
"Marek had three strong swings at the plate and Montgomery continues to hit well," said Malone. "It is nice to see the young guys play well."
The Islanders hit the road for seven straight games beginning Tuesday when they head to Austin for a two-game series. Both games start at 6 p.m.