Baseball Returns to Conference Play vs. NichollsTEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (12-8, 0-3) AT NICHOLLS (7-8, 0-3)
Ray E. Didier Field (1,000)
LIVE AUDIO/STATS: GoIslanders.com
Friday, March 18 • 6 p.m.
ISLANDERS: LHP Todd Simko (2-2, 4.37) | NICHOLLS: LHP Seth Webster (0-1, 2.50)
Saturday, March 19 • 3 p.m.
ISLANDERS: RHP Ian Campbell (2-1, 3.41) | NICHOLLS: RHP Brian Arceneaux (1-2, 4.12)
Sunday, March 20 • 1 p.m.
ISLANDERS: RHP Justin Meza (2-1, 5.82) | NICHOLLS: TBA
THE FIRST PITCH
Coming off a trip to Lubbock for the Texas Tech Invitational, the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi baseball team will return to conference play for a three-game set against Nicholls beginning on Friday, March 18. The Islanders and Colonels will do battle on Friday at 6 p.m., with Saturday's game slated for a 3 p.m. first pitch and Sunday's set to start at 1 p.m.
The Islanders went 2-3 at the Texas Tech Invitational, splitting a pair of one-run games against Iowa and winning one of three from Texas Tech. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi opened the weekend with a resounding 14-5 win over the host Red Raiders, as Matt Holland hit for the cycle in the win. On Sunday, the Islanders lost two one-run nailbiters, then rebounded with a win over Iowa on Monday. Tuesday saw Texas Tech hold off a pair of Islanders offensives in a 9-7 win.
Nicholls comes into the weekend at 7-8 overall, after a 12-8 loss against LSU in Thibodaux on Wednesday. The Colonels are 0-3 in conference play, having been swept by Lamar in Beaumont last weekend.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
The Islanders are 9-7 all-time against Nicholls, including an 8-4 record since joining the Southland. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi has a 3-5 record all-time in Thibodaux, while the Islanders are 5-4 against the Colonels in Scott Malone's tenure.
SCOUTING THE COLONELS
Nicholls enters the weekend at 7-8 overall, but has lost four straight games since a 7-5 win over Louisiana-Monroe on March 6. The Colonels were swept by Lamar before falling 12-8 to LSU on Wednesday in Thibodaux. Nicholls had won six of seven before the recent losing skid.
Offensively, the Colonels have struggled, posting a team average of just .251 with four longballs on the year. That hasn't slowed Chase Jaramillo, who is among the conference leaders with his .390 average and .559 slugging on the season. Blake Bergeron leads the team with 13 RBI.
On the mound, Nicholls has been very solid, posting a 4.19 ERA on the season. Friday starter Seth Webster has been the top performer with a 2.50 ERA, while Donnie White has given the Colonels a strong option out of the pen with eight Ks and a 1.50 ERA in six innings.
THE RIGHTY STICK
Somewhat overshadowed by Matt Holland, Trey Hernandez and Week 1 Southland Conference Hitter of the Week Chris Vergne, righty Jacob Perales has arguably been the team's best hitter in the first 20 games. The Robstown native leads the team with a .394 average and has two home runs and 19 RBI on the year.
Perales now has 18 career home runs to place him in a tie for sixth in Islanders lore. He hit bombs against MVSU and Indiana this year and leads the team with seven two-hit games on the year.
Heading into the season, the coaching staff identified Matt Holland as the hottest hitter on the team, and he has not disappointed to this juncture. But his performance against Texas Tech on Saturday was by far his most impressive of the season.
The senior went 4-for-6 and hit for the Islanders' first cycle of the season and the first since Jacob Perales turned the trick against UTPA last year. But more impressive was how Holland accomplished the feat. He came to the plate in the sixth inning just 1-for-3 with a double to his name. But he delivered a single in the sixth and a triple in the eighth to put him within a longball of accomplishing the feat. With two down in the ninth and the bases loaded, Holland ripped a 2-0 pitch over the wall in right for a grand slam to put the Islanders over the top.
Holland, who is 10th in the conference with his .385 average and sixth with a .628 slugging percentage, strung together a team-high nine-game hitting streak earlier this season. His 30 hits on the year are second in the Southland.
Senior first baseman Trey Hernandez has gotten out to a hot start at the plate in 2011, and his three home runs on the season give him 42 for his career, the all-time leader for the Islanders.
Hernandez is tied for the conference lead with 20 walks, and his .517 on-base percentage is tops in the Southland. He is also fifth in slugging (.667) to put him second with a 1.184 OPS (on-base plus slugging).
Hernandez is also the school's all-time leader in RBI (173) and will look to make a run at 50 homers and 200 driven in in his senior campaign. The Robstown native was a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American in 2008 and has earned Southland Player of the Week honors twice in his career.
His performance in the second week of the season was worthy of mention. Though the senior did not hit a home run, he did drill four doubles over the week's four contests for the Islanders. He was named to CollegeBaseball 360's Weekly Honor Roll for his efforts.