It took a solid start on the mound from Jake Liedka, a family visit for Chris Vergne, a record-breaking performance by Trey Hernandez and several other key performances for the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi baseball team to hand No.-20 Southeastern Louisiana a 10-5 loss in the series opener at Chapman Field on Friday. The series continues on Saturday at 2 p.m. with finale on Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Islanders moved to 15-23 on the season and 7-12 in the Southland Conference picking up their third-ever win over a nationally-ranked team. The others were a 5-0 win over No. 1 Texas to open the 2003 season and 2-1 victory over No.-25 Oklahoma State in 2005 in extra innings.
The Lions fall to 12-7 in the Southland Conference and 29-11 overall.
The game was tied at 0-0 until the Lions scored twice in the fourth breaking up Liedka's no-hit bid. With two away, Jeff Harkensee walked and moved to third on a ground-rule double by Cody Gougler. Joe Sparacino, who added a solo home run to start the seventh, drove in both with a single through the right side of the infield.
A&M-Corpus Christi, who had missed some early opportunities to the take the lead, answered with five runs in the bottom of the inning off Brandon Efferson (7-2). With one away Weston Montgomery singled and went to third on base hit by Bobby Buckner to right. After Epperson walked Jeramie Marek, freshman Roman Madrid, who would finish with a career-best four hits, singled to drive in both.
"We are supposed to be an offensive team and we finally showed," said Islander head coach Scott Malone. "We had a couple of chances early but didn't push the guys through. The guys didn't panic and finally we started to push some through.
"We had guys contribute up and down the line up. We count on guys like Trey and Chris to hit, but it helps when you get contributions from others like Roman and Jeramie. When we do that we are most dangerous."
Playing in front of his mom for the first time as a collegian, Vergne, a native of Puerto Rico who played JUCO baseball in Iowa, roped a two-run double down the line in left. He scored on a single by Hernandez that broke Jaime Landin's career record of 134 runs batted in.
After Sparacino's home run in the top of the seventh, Hernandez matched it in the bottom of the inning off reliever Stefan Lopez to lead off the inning to make it a 6-3 contest. It was his 12th home run of the season tying him for the league lead. He is now tied with Ryan Clyde for second in career home runs - one behind Humberto Aguilar's 35.
The Islanders broke open the game in the bottom of the eighth with four runs. Back-to-back singles by Marek and Madrid opened the inning, while Marx loaded the bases by drawing his second walk of the game. With no outs, Vergne launched a grand slam to right-center field to clear the bases. It was the second grand slam of the season by the Islanders and fourth home run of the season by Vergne, who finished with six runs batted in.
The Lions tried to rally in the ninth taking advantage of pair of walks by Phillip Garcia to start the inning. After Josh Cryer drove in Hebert with a single, Chris Franklin scored on a wild pitch with two outs, but the visitors could get no closer.
The Islanders finished the game with 10 runs on 14 hits. It was their 11th double-digit game of the season but first in 10 games. Aside from Madrid's game-high four hits, Hernandez finished with three, while Vergne and Matt Holland each had a pair.
Sparacino had two hits and three RBI for Southeastern which finished with six.
Liedka earned his third win of the season allowing three runs on five hits in seven innings of work. He struckout five batters while walking two. The senior retired the side in four innings and allowed runners in scoring position in just two. Chris Pena tossed a scoreless eighth inning striking out two.
"Liedka, and hopefully Brandon Orr on Sunday, is finally beginning to pitch how you want a senior to pitch," said Malone. "If we are going to make a run we are going to have to have senior on Friday and then a senior on Sunday come through.
"Today, Liedka did a good job of not allowing the lead-off hitter to get on so they could bunt and run like they want to do."
Efferson, who entered with a 2.39 ERA, went 5-1/3 innings allowing five runs on eight hits. He fanned five and walked three after permitting 10 base on balls in the first 61-1/3 innings he tossed this season.