LITTLE THINGS PROVE COSTLY FOR ISLANDERS IN 8-7 LOSS
An error with two outs in the top of the seventh proved costly for the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi baseball team on Friday afternoon as they dropped an 8-7 decision to Northwestern State at Chapman Field.
Leading 5-4 with two away in the seventh after a pair of Brett Gibson strikeouts, Weston Montgomery dropped an infield pop up to the right of the mound keeping the inning alive. Northwestern State would go one to score three runs as Lance Lacoste belted a two-run double and Colin Bear tripled to right-center for a 7-5 Demon lead.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Islanders pulled to within a run, 7-6, with two away after Montgomery hit into a double play. Jacob Perales hit the Islanders second home run of the game to right field for his fifth of the season to chase Demon starter Ryan Zimmerman from the game.
Zimmerman (2-3) earned the winning going 7-2/3 innings. He was tagged with six runs on 10 hits while fanning six and walking three.
Justin O'Neal again pushed the Islander deficit to two runs with a solo home run off Bryant Sparkman, who was making his 30th appearance of the season. It was the tenth long ball of the season for O'Neal.
Gibson (0-2) suffered the loss as he gave up three runs all unearned on four hits in 1-2/3 innings with a pair of strikeouts. Sparkman permitted just the solo home run in the ninth in 2-1/3 innings with three Ks.
Facing Chad Sheppard, the Islanders tried to rally in the bottom of the ninth. Jeremy Narvaez led off the inning with a pinch-hit double and scored on an RBI single by Jeramie Marek, who led all players with three hits extending his hitting streak to 17 games which is the fourth longest in school history. Sheppard earned his ninth save of the season by getting Justin Greiner to ground out to third and striking out Martin Parra. The Demon closer allowed a run on 1-1/3 innings on two hits.
The loss nearly extinguishes the Islander postseason chances as they can not lose again if they hope to make the postseason, while Stephen F. Austin can not win any of six remaining games. The Islanders are now 8-20 in the league and 17-34 overall, while Northwestern is 14-12 in the league and 22-23 overall.
"We lost this game because of the little things and that is why we are in the place we are," said Islander head coach Scott Malone. "Weston is a shortstop and should make those plays but his inexperience at first was costly, but he was there because we had to sit Trey (Hernandez) for academic reasons.
"Northwestern made the plays all day and we didn't on defense. We were also inconsistent with our approach at the plate."
Lacoste, who had five RBI in the game, put the Demons on the board in the top of the first. After A&M-Corpus Christi starter Brett Carnline struckout the first batter he faced, he allowed free passes to each of the next two batters by hitting one and walking the other.
Carnline went five innings allowing four earned runs on three hits, but struggled at times walking four and hitting three.
"Carnline kept us in the game despite giving up seven free passes," said Malone. "You know he will give up walks the way he pitches but when he only allows four runs in five hits he's kept you in the game. Gibson also pitched well not giving up an earned run."
The Islanders pulled to within a run in the bottom of the first frame. Marek doubled to start the inning and scored on a wild pitch. Parra hit a solo home run off Zimmerman to make it 3-2.
A&M-Corpus Christi tied the game in the bottom of the fourth with two outs. Stephen Flora singled to start the inning and stole second. He scored on a base hit by Ernie Olivarez, who drove in his 16th run in the last 11 games.
After the Demons took a 4-3 lead in the fifth when A&M-Corpus Christi was unable to turn a double play, the Islanders scored twice in the bottom of the sixth to regain the lead. Flora walked to start the inning and scored on a double right-center field by Montgomery. After Perales walked, Montgomery scored as Brycen Bell hit into a fielder's choice.
Despite the loss, the Islanders out-hit the Demons 12-10. Aside from Marek's three hits, Flora and Olivarez each had two. Lacoste, Meyer, and Bear had two hits apiece for the hosts.