NACOGDOCHES - The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi baseball team jumped out to a 3-0 lead early and received a solid pitching performance from Jake Liedka, but was unable to hold on dropping a 4-3 decision to Stephen F. Austin on Friday at Jaycees Field.
With the loss the Islanders fall to 13-22 and are 5-11 in the Southland Conference. The Lumberjacks are now 22-10 on the season and 10-5 in the SLC.
"Liedka pitched really well," said Islander head coach Scott Malone. "It was really nice to see him pitch so well and extend himself like he did. He competed the whole game and gave us every chance to win."
A&M-Corpus scored first plating two runs in the top of the second. Chris Vergne, who late in the game took away a hit with a diving grab in center, and Jeramie Marek started the inning with back-to-back singles. After Matt Holland tried unsuccessfully to advance Vergne with a bunt, Weston Montgomery walked on four straight pitches by Tyler Herriage. With two away, Marx doubled down the line in right scoring a pair of runs.
Marx increased the Islander lead to 3-0 with a run in the top of the fourth. With one away, Montgomery and Jacob Perales recorded back-to-back singles. Marx singled up the middle to bring in Montgomery. Perales tried to score as well but was thrown out at home by Tanner Hines.
SFA tied the game with three runs in the bottom of the fourth after hitting into two, 4-3 double plays in the first three innings. Garrett Smith singled to start the inning and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Hines. After Jared Scarafiotti walked, Bobby Loveless drove in Smith with a single through the left side of the infield. Ryan Priest doubled over Marx's head in left driving in pair of runs knotting the game at three. Loveless was safe at home as Omar Garcia was unable to hold onto the ball in a play at the plate.
The Lumberjacks took the lead in the fifth. With two away Cory Ege booted a ground ball by Smith. Smith would steal second and scored on a single by Hines.
"Defensively you are going to make mistakes," said Malone. "I hate that a defensive miscue in each inning led to them scoring."
Neither team scored again as a pitchers' duel ensued. The Islanders had just one runner reach base in the final five innings with Herriage retiring 11 hitters in a row at one point. Liedka allowed just two runners as far as second in the final four trips to the plate by the 'Jacks.
"I was pleased with how we got the early runs and proud of the team with how they came out to start the game," said Malone. "For a team that takes pride in its offense, it was disappointing to see how we finished the game. To have 11 outs in a row at one point is disappointing and not what we expect."
Liedka (2-1) tossed just the second complete game of the season for the Islanders, but suffered his first loss of the season. He allowed three earned runs finishing with four strikeouts and one walk. Herriage gave up three earned runs on eight hits with five strikeouts. He walked two permitted eight hits.
Jason West tossed a scoreless ninth for his seventh save of the year.
Marx led the Islanders with two hits and drove in all three runs. Marx has reached safely in 16 consecutive games since entering the starting lineup at Texas Tech.
Hines and Priest each had two hits for the hosts.
The second game of the series is slate for 2 p.m. on Saturday.