HAMMOND, La. The fourth inning of Sunday's contest proved costly for the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi baseball team in the series finale as the Islanders were unable to plate a run with the bases loaded in the top half of the inning, while Southeastern Louisiana plated five in the bottom of the inning en route to a 12-6 win.
"We were outplayed in all three areas hitting, pitching and defense," said Islander head coach Scott Malone, whose team fell to 14-26 overall and 6-15 on the year. "They got timely hits when they needed to and made the plays on defense when tried to get back in the game."
The Lions moved to 23-15 overall and 12-9 in the league.
Trailing 4-2, A&M-Corpus Christi looked to have something brewing in the top of the fourth. Martin Parra and Stephen Flora led off the inning with back-to-back singles chasing Lion starter Josh Janway from the game. The bases became loaded as Jacob Perales was walked by Chris Cappo.
Justin Greiner was struckout swinging by Chris Cappo. Hernandez, who leads the team with 11 home runs, then hit a soft chopper back to Cappo as the Lions turned a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning.
The Lions broke the game open in the bottom of the fourth as A&M-Corpus Christi used four pitchers in the inning. Jesse Maldonado walked Cass Hargis and hit Brandon Street to begin the inning, while Andrew Longoria loaded the bases by hitting the one batter he faced. Joe Sparacino and Jordan D'Arensbourg followed with back-to-back, two-run doubles off of Jacob Liedka. Bryant Sparkman entered and ended the inning recording three straight outs, the second a sacrifice fly for the final run of the inning.
"We put ourselves in a hole in the fourth that we couldn't dig out of," said Malone.
The Islanders chipped back to within 9-5 with a pair of runs in the sixth and one in the seventh. With two outs in the sixth, Hernandez ripped a two-run double to drive in Flora and Greiner. In the seventh, Jeramie Marek doubled with one out and scored on a pair of wild pitches by Cappo.
The Lions would score three times off Bryant Sparkman in the seventh. Street capped the inning with a two-run home run. Sparkman had allowed one hit in three innings to that point.
Hargis, who hit for the cycle in the Lions win on Friday night, put the hosts on the board early. The senior belted his fourth home of the season to right field to leadoff the bottom of the first
A&M-Corpus Christi rallied for a pair of runs in the top of the second with two away. Greiner began the reaching on a single to left. He went to second as Hernandez drew a walk. Ernie Olivarez drove both in as he singled to right over Cody Gougler's head. Gougler fell trying to making the play allowing the runners to score. Olivarez was thrown out trying to make it a triple.
The Lions were quick to knot the game in the bottom of the second. D'Arensbourg doubled to start the inning and scored on a single by Ernest with no outs. Islander starter Andrew Toppert appeared to be getting into a jam, but worked with a pair of ground balls and a strikeout.
In the bottom of the third, Toppert again allowed a double and single to start the inning as Cryer doubled and scored on a single by Sparacino. This time Toppert was unable to get out of the inning as he walked Gougler. After striking out D'Arensbourg, Toppert walked Ernest to load the bases. Justin Boudreax followed with a single to drive in Sparacino for the second run of the inning for a 4-2 Southeastern lead.
Maldonado relieved Toppert and with one pitch end the threat as Ty Summerlin hit into a 6-4-3 double play.
"Toppert obviously didn't have his best stuff today and didn't make the adjustments he needed to," said Malone.
Parra and Greiner led the Islanders with two hits apiece as they finished with eight. Sparacino had three hits to lead the Lions with three runs batted in.
Toppert was credited with the loss allowing four runs on six hits with three walks in 2-1/3 innings. Cappo (3-1) earned the win. He gave up three runs on two hits in 3-1/3 innings, but walked five.
The Islanders remain on the road for two more games as they will visit TCU in Fort Worth on Tuesday and Wednesday in a pair of non-conference affairs. The Tuesday game is at 6:30 p.m. and Wednesday at 3 p.m.