SAN MARCOS - The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi baseball team opened Southland Conference play with a heart-breaking loss as defending regular-season champion Texas State rallied for four runs with two away in the bottom of the eighth inning en route to a 5-3 win at Bobcat Baseball Stadium.
The Islanders jumped on the board early with a pair of runs in the top of the first. With one away, Michael Russo walked Cory Ege, who went to second on a single by Chris Vergne. After Vergne and Ege pulled off a double steal, they came around to score on a two-out single up the middle.
The Bobcats would get a run back in the bottom of the first. Laurn Randell tied the game with a sacrifice fly off Roy Ferdin.
Over the next six innings, neither team was able to put together much offense. The Islanders would manage just three hits off Russo. Ferdin, who allowed just one extra-base hit, would give up only three more hits before leaving after six complete. Phillip Garcia would pitch a 1-2-3 seventh before the offense got going again.
With two away in the top of the eighth, Ege singled off Russo and stole second. He raced home on a double to right field by Vergne. Russo would leave after the double in favor of Garret Carruth.
Neither Ferdin or Russo would figure in the decision for their respective teams. Ferdin would allow one run on five hits while striking out one and walking two. Russo gave up three earned runs on seven hits in 7-2/3 innings of work. He struckout eight Islanders and walked three.
"If we pitch like Roy did on the front end tonight, we will be much improved," said Islander coach Scott Malone. "We told Roy, Marc Damon, Brandon Orr and Ian Campbell that they need to continue to push each other and feed off the success."
In the bottom of the eighth, Phillip Garcia appeared to be in control with a 2-1 run lead. After allowing a single to Shaun Garcia to start the bottom of the inning, the sophomore induced Randell and Bret Atwood to ground out. However with two gone, he walked Tyler Sibley and then balked moving both runners into scoring position.
Kyle Livingstone tied the game with a two-run single up the middle. After advancing to second on a wild pitch by reliever Chris Pena, Livingstone crossed the plate for the go-ahead run on a ball by Kyle Kubitza. Pena tagged Kubtiza as he ran down the first base line for the apparent third out, but dropped the ball as the two collided. Kubitza made it a two-run game scoring on a single by Jason Martinson.
Carruth earned the win as he pitched 1-1/3 innings of perfect baseball. He fanned three.
"I am not worried about the back end of the bullpen," said Malone. "We just need to make a few tweaks."
The duo of Vergne and Ege combined for five hits. Vergne had three hits, while Ege had a pair. Livingstone had the only multi-hit performance for the Bobcats.
"We didn't get the offense we needed tonight," said Malone. "Russo threw the ball well we just weren't as consistent with the bat as we needed to be."
The teams resume their series on Saturday at 4 p.m. The finale is set for 1 p.m.