Whataburger Field (7,400) • Corpus Christi, Texas
LIVE VIDEO/STATS: GoIslanders.com
ISLANDERS VS. INDIANA
Friday, Feb. 25 • 6 p.m.
ISLANDERS: LHP Todd Simko (1-0, 0.00) | IU: LHP Drew Leininger (0-1, 7.20)
ISLANDERS VS. OREGON STATE
Saturday, Feb. 26 • 6 p.m.
ISLANDERS: RHP Brett Carnline (0-0, 4.15) | OSU: LHP Ben Wetzler (0-0, 0.00)
ISLANDERS VS. CONNECTICUT
Sunday, Feb. 27 • 3 p.m.
ISLANDERS: RHP Justin Meza (2-0, 6.43) | UCONN: LHP Greg Nappo (0-0, 9.00)
THE FIRST PITCH
Coming off its biggest win in Scott Malone's tenure, the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi baseball team will play host to the Kleberg Bank College Classic this weekend at Whataburger Field. The Islanders will be joined by Indiana, Oregon State and No. 14 Connecticut at the annual College Classic.
On Tuesday, the Islanders knocked off No. 6 Texas in Austin, 8-7 behind consistent hitting and an impressive pitching performance by four newcomers. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi scored in six of the nine innings against the Longhorns, with catcher Jumpy Garcia leading the way with his four RBI. Justin Meza struck out seven in 5 1/3 innings to win his first collegiate start, while Michael Boyle and Todd Simko held the Horns scoreless for the final 2 2/3 innings.
SCOUTING THE FIELD
Indiana comes into the weekend series 1-2 after a solid performance at the Caravelle Resort Invitational in Myrtle Beach. The Hoosiers dropped the first two before pulling out a thrilling, 2-1 win over Coastal Carolina in 16 innings. Connecticut is 1-2 after a disappointing performance at the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge. The Huskies enter on a winning note after a 16-9 shellacking of Michigan. Oregon State is 2-2, having beaten Gonzaga twice, but losing a pair of games to No. 35 Fresno State.
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi's 5-0 start is the best for the Islanders since opening 9-0 in the 2007 season. The Islanders, who opened that season with series sweeps of Centenary, Texas Southern and Grambling, finished the year with a 27-29 overall record.
KNOCKING OFF THE BIG BOYS
The Islanders' win over No. 6 Texas on Tuesday marked the highest ranked opponent that they have beaten since a season-opening victory over the No. 1 Longhorns on Feb. 5, 2003. Last year, the Islanders went 2-3 against ranked foes, winning two of three from Southeastern Louisiana but falling twice to UT.
MIGHT AS WELL JUMP
There were several heroes in the Islanders' victory over the sixth-ranked Longhorns, but offensively the star was Jumpy Garcia. Garcia drove in four runs - his second straight game with four RBI on two hits for the Islanders.
The transfer from Southeastern (Iowa) Junior College leads the team with his nine RBI on the season. He hit his first career home run in the series finale against Mississippi Valley State, drilling a three-run homer to right field. He has also been impressive behind the dish, throwing out two of the five runners who have tried to steal on him.
A native of Brooklyn, he hit 20 homers and drove in 91 for Southeastern a year ago. His given name is Jon-Pierre Garcia, but it was shortened to Jumpy early in his childhood.
VERGNE EARNS WEEKLY HONORS
Senior Chris Vergne was named Southland Conference Hitter of the Week. It is the first career honor for Vergne and the first weekly honor for a member of the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi baseball team since Jacob Perales earned Hitter of the Week laurels on May 3, 2010.
Vergne had a spectacular first weekend of the season, hitting .727 (8-for-11) with eight runs scored and five RBI in a four-game sweep of Mississippi Valley State. The senior from San Juan, Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico Baseball Academy), had hits in all four games and scored the winning run in the final at bat of both of the Islanders' one-run victories on Saturday. Vergne scored three runs in the season opener and two in both games two and four of the series.
In the series finale, he went 3-for-3 with a two-run home run and four RBI to spark the Islanders offense in the 12-2 win. Of his eight hits on the weekend, he had two doubles, a triple and a home run, giving him a slugging percentage of 1.369. He drew two walks, did not strike out and had an on-base percentage of .769.
In his Islanders debut, Cuesta College transfer Todd Simko was spectacular, punching out seven Delta Devils against no walks in earning his first career victory. The junior surrendered just three singles and four baserunners over his five innings of work. The southpaw allowed just one flyout, a popup to second, as opposed to six groundouts.
With the game on the line against Texas, the Islanders again called on Simko. With the visitors on top 8-7, Simko got the ball in the closer's role after normal closer Michael Boyle got the call in a tense situation in the seventh. Simko retired the first two men in quick succession, then, after an error put the tying run on second, coolly induced a popup to left to end the game. In six innings of work, he has allowed just three hits and no walks this season.
Making his first collegiate start, freshman Justin Meza showed no fear going against No. 6 Texas. The Moody High graduate punched out seven Longhorns and allowed two hits over 5 1/3 innings of work to improve to 2-0 on the season.
Meza, who also pitched 1 2/3 innings in relief against MVSU, sat out last year as a non-qualifier and worked solely on his academics. He was an all-state selection and the All-South Texas MVP in 2009.