February 23, 2011

Islanders Stun No. 6 Longhorns, 8-7

AUSTIN, Texas -

The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi baseball team got out to an early 7-2 lead and held on late in an 8-7 victory over No. 6 Texas on Tuesday night in Austin. It is the second all-time victory for the Islanders over the Longhorns. Jumpy Garcia had four RBI in the victory as the Islanders outhit the Horns 11-6.

Justin Meza had an adventurous first start, surrendering just two hits and punching out seven Horns in 5 1/3 innings, but he also allowed eight walks and hit a batter. It was enough to collect the victory in his first career start, though, and he improved to 2-0 on the season. Michael Boyle pitched 1 2/3 vital scoreless innings, while Todd Simko shut down Texas in the ninth for his first career save.

Along with Garcia's two hits, Matt Holland, Drew Vest and Jacob Perales had two base knocks apiece. Holland, Trey Hernandez and Logan Nottebrok each scored twice in the win.

Texas A&M - Corpus Christi struck quickly, plating two runs in the top of the first inning against Longhorn starter Keifer Nuncio. Vest started things with a leadoff walk, and he went to third on Chris Vergne's single up the middle. Hernandez then put the Islanders on the scoreboard with a groundout to third to make it 1-0 in favor of the visitors. Two batters later, after a Perales walk, Garcia delivered a single through the middle to plate Vergne for a 2-0 advantage.

The Islanders pushed it to 3-0 in the second, as the first three visitors reached base. Nottebrok led off with an infield single, then moved up 90 feet when Jeramie Marek was hit by a pitch. Vest followed by dropping down a perfect bunt for an infield single to load the bags. Vergne then ripped a grounder to short, resulting in a 6-4-3 double play, but scoring Nottebrok for a three-run advantage.

On the other side, Meza was rolling, surrendering two walks and a hit by pitch, but striking out four in the first two innings. The Moody product punched out the side in the second to maintain the Islanders' advantage.

The offense continued in the third, and again it started with the Islanders getting the leadoff man on. Holland was hit by a pitch, stole second and advanced to third on a Perales infield single. Garcia then got his second RBI of the game with a bounding ball to third that plated Holland for a 4-0 lead.

The Longhorns cracked the scoreboard in the bottom of the third. After a leadoff walk, Brandon Loy lifted a triple to left that eluded Holland to trim the UT deficit to 4-1. Mark Payton followed with an RBI groundout to push the score to 4-2 in favor of the Islanders.

In the fifth, Garcia came through again, knocking in a pair of Islanders on a two-run single. Hernandez drew a leadoff walk, and Holland followed with a single to right. After a wild pitch, Perales walked to load the bases for the junior transfer. Garcia laced a 2-1 pitch down the third base line for a two-run single to make it 6-2 in favor of the visitors.

The Islanders tacked on another run in the top of the sixth, with Hernandez drawing a two-out walk. Holland followed with a single, and then Perales ripped an RBI single to right to push the advantage to 7-2. Meza's control issues got to him in the bottom of the frame, as three walks loaded the bases with one out. Pinch-hitter Kevin Lusson then delivered the body blow with a two-run double to right. Jordan Etier followed with a squeeze bunt to make it 7-5 in the Islanders' favor at the end of six.

Vest drove in a run in the top of the seventh to make it 8-5 in favor of the visitors. His two-out single plated Nottebrok to regain a three-run edge. But the Horns tacked on another two runs in the bottom of the frame on a two-run single. Closer Michael Boyle, though, came on and got a 5-4-3 double play to thwart the threat with the Islanders now clinging to the slimmest of leads. Boyle gave his teammates a scare in the bottom of the eighth, walking the bases loaded, but retired the side on a lineout to left to keep the Islanders up 8-7 headed to the ninth.

After Texas A&M - Corpus Christi went in order in the top of the frame, the Islanders called on opening-day starter Simko to finish the job. The Cuesta College transfer punched out leading hitter Erich Weiss, then got Johnathan Walsh to bounce out to shortstop. After the Islanders committed a two-base error, Simko got a popout to left off the bat of Tant Shepherd to end the game.

The Islanders are back in action this weekend, as they partner with the Corpus Christi Hooks to host the Kleberg Bank College Classic. Indiana, Oregon State and Connecticut will join Texas A&M - Corpus Christi in the event. The Islanders will face the Hoosiers Friday night at 6 p.m., the Beavers Saturday at 6 and the Huskies on Sunday at 3. For complete coverage, tune to GoIslanders.com.