The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi baseball team battled until the end Sunday afternoon in their final game of the season at Chapman Field falling 7-6 to Northwestern State.
Trailing 7-4 heading into their final at bat, the Islanders tried to rally in the bottom of the ninth off Demon closer Chad Shepperd. Trey Hernandez led off the inning with a double to left field. With one away, Jeremy Narvaez came on to pinch hit and struck out swinging but advanced to first base on a throwing error by the catcher. Hernandez and Narvaez advanced a base to third and second on a wild pitch.
As Jeramie Marek drew ball four, Hernandez scampered home on a wild pitch. Narvaez scored the second run on Sheppard's third wild pitch. With the tying run at second, Parra tried to end the game in memorable fashion driving a ball to right field before Eric DeBlanc snared the ball at the warning track to end the game giving Sheppard his tenth save.
"We came up just short," said Islander head coach Scott Malone. "The guys kept battling, but we weren't consistent enough at the plate. They played great defense all weekend and took away quite a few hits from us."
With the loss, the Islanders fall to 17-36 on the year and 8-22 in the league. Northwestern State is now 24-23 overall and 15-12 in the SLC.
After DeBlanc hit a solo home run to left in the top of the second, A&M-Corpus Christi tallied twice in the bottom of the inning. Stephen Flora led off the inning by drawing a walk and advanced to second base on a balk by Demon starter Trevor Geist. Jacob Perales reached when he was a hit by a pitch and moved over to second on an RBI single by Hernandez that scored Flora. After Perales and Hernandez moved up a base to second and third after a second balk of the inning by Geist, Brycen Bell came up and hit a sacrifice fly to left scoring Perales and give the Islanders a 2-1 lead.
The Islanders added a run in the bottom of the sixth inning when Parra led off the inning with a double down the left field line. Ernie Olivarez grounded out to the shortstop to move Parra over to third base. Perales came up and drew a four-pitch walk that allowed Parra to score from third. The Demon pitcher threw a wild pitch on ball four to allow the Islanders to extend the lead to 3-1.
The Demons responded with five runs in the top of the seventh off Brandon Orr to take a 6-3 lead on six hits and three errors by the Islanders. Orr was solid in the start allowing one run through six innings before giving up the five runs in the sixth. Orr allowed six hits with two strikeouts and no walks. He dropped to 1-5 with the loss. Jacob Liedka relieved Orr and allowed no runs on two hits in an inning of work.
"Brandon threw strikes today and kept us in the game by not walking anyone," said Malone. "He was able to hang some zeroes early. Leidka came in a tough spot and while one of Brandon's runs scored with him on the mound I can't say he made a bad pitch. Northwestern State just won that matchup."
DeBlanc led off the inning with a home run to left field to get the Demons within 3-2. It was his second of the game and season. Dominic Gamboa followed with a single and advanced all the way to third on a throwing error by the Parra after a diving catch and went home on an error by Hernandez to tie it up at 3-3.
Garret Vaughn singled in the next at-bat for the Demons and advanced to second on a stolen base. Back-to-back doubles led to a 4-3 lead with runners on second and third for the Demons. Justin O'Neal finished the scoring when he singled home one run while another run scored on the play as Perales missed played the ball in right to make it 6-3 Demons.
The Islanders were able to respond with a run in the bottom half of the seventh as Marek reached on a fielder's choice and stole second to get into scoring position. Justin Greiner the struck out swinging, but advanced to first on a passed ball and went to second on an error by Vaughn whose throw hit Greiner in the back. The error allowed Marek to score from second to bring the score to 6-4.
The Demons added a run in the top of the ninth inning with a leadoff homer by Chase Lyles to extend the lead to 7-4 off Justin Grota, who allowed one run in two hits.
Northwestern out-hit the Islanders 16-8 as Lyles, O'Neal and DeBlanc each had three hits. Hernandez led A&M-Corpus Christi with two hits, while Marek doubled to left extending hit hitting streak to 19 games.
The Islanders close out the season with a series at Sam Houston State beginning Thursday.