The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi rode the strength of its pitching staff to a doubleheader sweep of Mississippi Valley State on Saturday, winning game one, 5-4, and taking the second outing by a score of 2-1. Chris Vergne scored three runs and Jacob Perales hit a three-run homer in the doubleheader, while Alvin CC transfer Michael Boyle closed out both games for his first two saves for the Islanders (3-0).
The Islanders had to come from behind in both affairs with the Delta Devils (0-3), who outhit the home squad on the day, 14-9. Justin Meza (1-0) and Alex Jack (1-0) each collected wins in relief, as Texas A&M - Corpus Christi scored the winning run in its last at-bat in each ballgame.
"We had to pitch well for 16 innings today to give ourselves a chance today," head coach Scott Malone said. "Carnline and Campbell did that for us today throwing a lot of zeroes on the scoreboard. Considering the job Mississippi Valley State did against our offense, it was that much more important to get good pitching from our starters and bullpen.
"Michael Boyle competed well in both games for us and I really felt he overpowered their guys," he continued. "Jack, in game two, came through for us in a key situation coming in for Green to put a zero on the scoreboard. I like how our pitching is setting up today especially when our offense doesn't come out firing at the beginning of the games, but you've got to credit those guys in the other dugout for that."
In the seven-inning opener, the Delta Devils used small ball to take a 2-0 lead on the Islanders. A Kylie Ming squeeze bunt in the third got the visitors on the board, and then MVSU put another run across in the top of the fourth. Luke Walker drove in the second Devil run with a grounder through the left side for an unearned run to make it a two-run lead.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Islanders regained the advantage on Perales' first home run of the season. Jumpy Garcia led off getting hit by a pitch, then Chris Vergne reached on catcher's interference. After Steven Barnes punched out the next two hitters, Perales came to the plate with two on and two away. The senior took a pitch on the outer half and went the other way with it, drilling the ball over the wall in right center for a 3-2 Islanders lead.
MVSU countered with two runs in the top of the fifth, chasing starter Brett Carnline from the game. The Delta Devils got two on with one out to end Carnline's day, and Meza made his debut on the mound. MVSU got one run on a bloop single to left, then added another run on a Garcia throwing error to regain the lead at 4-3. The Islanders avoided any further damage when Matt Holland caught a fly ball in left then gunned down the tagging runner at the plate for an inning-ending 7-2 double play.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Islanders regained the lead. Garcia was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame and was pinch-run for by Hayden Moore. Vergne followed and rocketed a liner off Barnes' leg and into right field to score Moore and result in an RBI triple. Two batters later, Dan Sciantarelli delivered Vergne with a sac fly to center to give the Islanders a 5-4 advantage.
Meza, who threw 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, gave way to Boyle, who set down the Delta Devils in order in the ninth for his first career save. The Alvin CC transfer struck out one in his Islanders debut. Meza collected the win for Texas A&M - Corpus Christi.
In game two, the Delta Devils again got strong pitching by their starter early on, as David Brauhn kept the Islanders off the scoreboard through the first five innings. MVSU was able to get on the board in the top of the fourth on a pair of seeing-eye groundballs. With two down and Matt Burton at second, Curtis Ford hit a high chopper in the hole at deep short, and Drew Vest was unable to gun him down at first. Burton showed aggressiveness on the basepaths on the play, never stopping at third, and he beat the throw home from Trey Hernandez to make it 1-0.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Islanders finally cracked the scoreboard. Vest drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a sacrifice. Hernandez followed with a walk, then Holland ripped a ball just inside the bag at third to send Vest home and knot the game up at 1-1. The Delta Devils bullpen put out the fire, though, inducing a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
Starter Ian Campbell had an excellent start for the Islanders, surrendering just six hits and two walks in seven innings of work. Newcomer Tanner Green relieved him in the top of the eighth, allowing a hit and a walk in 1/3 of an inning, and then Jack came on to douse the flames, punching out the final two batters of the frame to send it to the bottom of the eighth still tied up at one apiece.
The Islanders got a rally going in that frame, with Vergne singling to right and then advancing to second when the right fielder mishandled the ball. Hernandez followed with a looping liner to center that fell in, moving Vergne to third to put runners at the corners with one down. Holland then came to the plate and hit another ball down the line, but MVSU first baseman Derek Wallace gloved this one and stepped on the bag. Hernandez alertly got himself in a rundown, and Vergne came in to score the go-ahead run at 2-1.
Boyle came on in search of his second save of the day, but surrendered a leadoff walk. A sacrifice and a groundout moved the runner to third, then Boyle gave up another free pass to put the go-ahead run on base. But the junior college transfer was able to get a flyout off the bat of pinch-hitter Chris Norman to save both ends of the double dip. Jack picked up the win out of the pen for the Islanders.
The Islanders and MVSU will finish off their four-game series on Sunday at 1 p.m. Live video and stats will be available on GoIslanders.com.