HUNTSVILLE Heading into the season finale, the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi baseball team was looking to end the season with a positive note and did just that with a 5-3 win over Sam Houston State on Saturday at Don Sanders Stadium.
The Islanders received the pitching performance they had been looking for from Brett Gibson in his first start and solid relief from a foursome led by Brandon Orr. Gibson went four innings allowing a pair of runs on two hits with five strikeouts, Orr picked up his second win of the season permitting a run on three hits with four Ks.
Along with Orr, Islander relievers Roy Ferdin, Bryant Sparkman and Jacob Liedka gave up one run on three hits in the final three innings. A&M-Corpus Christi finished with 10 strikeouts and no walks on the day.
"Brett Gibson came out and really set the tone and Orr was excellent out of the bullpen," said Islander head coach Scott Malone. "Once they got to Brett a little and we got behind, the offense did a good job of coming back and getting some runs. Omar (Garcia) had three hits and (Stephen) Flora had a big hit and run. It was a total team effort."
With the win, A&M-Corpus Christi finishes the seasons 18-38 overall and 9-24 in Southland Conference play. Sam Houston heads to the Southland Conference Tournament with a 18-14 record in the league and 32-22 overall.
The Islanders opened the scoring in the third. Jacob Perales led off the inning with a double to left-center field. Weston Montgomery's single up the middle drove in Perales.
Sam Houston State scored twice in the bottom of the fourth off Gibson to take a brief lead. Mark Wyatt drove in the first run with a double and scored the second on a sacrifice fly by Daniel Nottebart.
After Ernie Olivarez belted his fourth home run in the top of the fifth to tie the game off SHSU starter Brent Powers, A&M-Corpus Christi regained the lead in the start of the sixth inning. With one away, Omar Garcia singled and scored on a double by Stephen Flora off Powers. Martin Parra greeted reliever Ryan Tepera with a single to right plating Flora for a 4-2 advantage.
The teams exchanged single runs to make the score 5-3. Adam DeLaGarza cross the plate on a wild pitch by Orr to make it a one-run game in the bottom of the seventh, but the Islanders pushed its advantage back to two in the top of the eighth. Back-to-back singles by Jeramie Marek and Jonathan Reyes began the inning, with Marek as Parra hit into a fielder's choice to pick up his second hit.
Marek's single extended his hitting streak to 22 games matching the school record set in 2003 by Humberto Aguilar.
The Bearkats would threaten in the bottom of the eight off Ferdin. Nick Zaleski led off the inning with a double and moved to second on an error by Ferdin. Ferdin left after hitting Wyatt in favor of Sparkman. Sparkman induced a Tyler Knight 5-6-3 double play to end the inning.
Liedka tossed a perfect ninth for his second save of the season.
"Ferdin, Sparkman and Liedka came in and did what we asked of them," said Malone. "I didn't realize it when I put him in there, but I put Sparkman in against Knight who had the grand slam off Sparkman yesterday. When he got the double play, it was as excited as I have seen the dugout in weeks."
A&M-Corpus Christi out-hit the Bearkats 13-10. Garcia led the way with three hits while Marek and Olivarez each had two. Zaleski led the hosts with three hits.
"Its been a rough season, but the win allows the seniors to go out on positive note," said the Islander coach. "For the returnees, hopefully it gives them a little better taste in their mouth."