NACOGDOCHES - Stephen F. Austin's Garrett Smith lined a single through a drawn in infield with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth as Texas A&M-Corpus Christi fell 4-3 Saturday at Jaycees Field.
It was the second 4-3 loss in a row to the 'Jacks for the Islanders, who drop to 13-23 on the season and 5-12 in the Southland. SFA is now 23-10 on the year and 11-5 in the league.
In the decisive ninth inning, the Islanders were hurt by the base on balls as Ian Campbell walked the one batter he faced with Trey Hernandez following by walking the second hitter. Michael Haynes loaded the bases as reached on a bunt single as the Islanders were unable to get the out. Smith then lined a single through the left side of the infield plating pinch runner Patrick Gratzke.
Campbell was credited with the loss falling to 3-5 on the season. Cory Ochs earned the win after tossing two innings of one-hit baseball.
"We out-hit them 11 to nine and had no errors," said Islander head coach Scott Malone "The problem is we didn't get the hits when we needed them and we didn't make the key pitch or play when it counted. The ability to make those plays is the difference between being a top four team in the league and tenth."
The game was tight throughout with the Islander duo of Adam Hoelscher and Chris Pena matching Jared West. Making his first start on the collegiate level, Hoelscher went five innings scattering six hits. He allowed three runs with three strikeouts and a walk. Pena tossed three innings of scoreless relief permitting a hit and walk with two Ks.
"Adam pitched really well," said Malone. "We put him in a new role as a starter and he really stepped up for us today and kept us in the game. Chris was as good as he has been all season. I was really proud of his performance allowing just one hit in three innings."
The Islanders struck first with a run in the top of the third.
Caleb Marx, who finished with a game-high three runs, doubled over Bo Coffman's head and went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Chris Vergne. After Trey Hernandez walked and stole second, Matt Holland hit a sacrifice fly to center plating Marx. Ege followed with a single to center off West. Hernandez tried to score from second on the play but was thrown out by Smith in centerfield.
Michael Haynes led off the bottom of the third with a bunt single and moved to second on a balk and third on a passed ball. He scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Smith.
The score remained knotted at three until the top of the fifth inning. Marx led off the inning with a double to center and scored as Vergne followed suit with a double of his own. Vergne went to third on a single by Hernandez and scored on a wild pitch for a 3-1 advantage.
Justin McAninch led off the bottom of the fifth with a triple into the right-center field gap off Vergne's glove as he crashed into the wall. He scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Haynes. Smith followed with a one-out double and tied the game on a two-out single by Jarid Scarafiotti.
Both teams threatened in the eighth. With one away, Holland doubled into the gap and Cory Ege walked. Jeramie Marek, however, hit into a 6-4-3 double play which was the team's fourth of the afternoon.
In the bottom of the eighth, Tanner Hines singled to start the inning. After a sacrifice bunt by Scarafiotti, Ben Loveless walked. Pena worked his way out of the jam striking out Ryan Priest and getting Bo Coffman to hit into a fielder's choice.
In the ninth, Montgomery nearly picked up his third hit of the game with a tailing liner to right to start the inning but Coffman made a sliding feet-first catch for the first out.
The Islanders finished the game with 11 hits. Aside from Marx's three hits, Hernandez and Holland each had two hits. SFA had nine hits as three players - Smith, Haynes, and Hines - each had two hits.
The series concludes at 1 p.m. on Sunday.