Tuesday, March 22 • 2 p.m.
Chapman Field (500)
Corpus Christi, Texas
LIVE VIDEO/STATS: GoIslanders.com
ISLANDERS: RHP Brett Carnline (3-1, 4.66) | SCORPIONS: TBA
THE FIRST PITCH
After an eight-game, 10-day swing through Texas and Louisiana, the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi baseball team returns to the Coastal Bend for a five-game homestand beginning on Tuesday, March 22, with a game against UT Brownsville. The Islanders and Scorpions will do battle at 2 p.m. on campus at Chapman Field.
The Islanders finished off their eight-game road trip with a record of 5-3, including four wins in their last five. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi most recently swept a three-game conference series at Nicholls, the team's first conference road sweep since 2008. Jacob Perales had a stellar week at the plate for the Islanders, driving in 11 runs over five games, including eight on the weekend against the Colonels. The Islanders pitching staff also limited Nicholls to just 18 hits over the three-game set.
UT Brownsville/Texas Southmost College comes into Tuesday's affair with a 25-6 record, mostly against NAIA foes. The Scorpions' lone game against a Division I foe was a 4-3 loss to Texas-Pan American on Feb. 22. UTB/TSC also faced Texas A&M - Kingsville, falling 9-1. Since the loss to Kingsville, the Scorpions have gone 13-1, including taking two of three from conference foe Wiley College this weekend.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
The Islanders are 1-0 all-time against UT Brownsville, with the lone contest coming last year on March 9. The Islanders won that contest, 14-5, as Chris Vergne hit two home runs and the top three hitters in the Islanders lineup drove in 12 runs. Weston Montgomery and Cory Ege each had three hits, while Jake Liedka collected the victory with five solid innings on the bump. The bullpen held UTB/TSC to solo runs in the eighth and ninth to allow the Islanders to pull away. Matt Ginn and Peter Maldonado each had two hits for the Scorpions.
SCOUTING THE SCORPIONS
UTB/TSC begins the week with a 25-6 record, including an 11-3 mark away from Brownsville. The Scorpions have been very strong on the offensive side of the ball, hitting an aggregate .307 and scoring 227 runs in their 29 games. Felix Fanaselle has led the way with a .453 average to go along with 32 RBI, 24 runs and 11 steals. Four other regulars are hitting over .300, while Matt Ginn and Matt Warner each have four home runs.
On the mound, the Scorpions have been even more impressive, posting a collective 2.44 ERA. Danny Gidora has been the star with a 7-0 record and a 0.78 ERA, but no member of the staff has an ERA over 4.00. Opponents have hit just .225 against the team.
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 23 games. The Moody High leads the team with a .400 average, three home runs and 27 RBI on the year.
Perales' performance last week earned him SLC honorable mention. The senior hit .429 with 11 RBI in five games, including eight RBI in the series at Nicholls. His best game of the season saw him go 3-for-5 with five RBI to lead the Islanders in Saturday's 12-1 rout. The Corpus Christi native now has 19 career home runs to place him sixth in Islanders lore.
With a 15-8 start, the Islanders are off to their best opening since 2003. That has led to impressive numbers in the Ratings Percentage Index according to RPI gurus Warren Nolan and Boyd Nation. The Islanders are 50th in Nolan's calculations and 49th according to Boyd's World. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is 3-5 against teams in the top 50 of the RPI, with wins over Texas (20), Oregon State (23) and Texas Tech (47). Only one of the Islanders' defeats has come at the hands of a team outside the top 80, with that to preseason top-10 squad Connecticut.
Coming into the 2011 campaign, senior Ian Campbell's role on the team was expected to be a bullpen pitcher who provided depth to the staff. But his performance as of late has earned him a spot in the weekend rotation.
In eight appearances, including five starts, Campbell has a 3-1 record and a staff-leading 3.00 ERA. The senior, who can throw four pitches for strikes, has allowed less than one hit per inning. Far more impressive have been his 33 strikeouts to just 10 walks over 36 frames on the season. He earned honorable mention from the Southland after throwing seven innings and scattering four hits on Saturday against Nicholls.
The soft-spoken Glendale, Ariz., native played two years at Yapavai Junior College before transfering to the Island University prior to the 2010 season. He went 3-5 with an 8.17 ERA in 2010 for the Islanders.
With a three-game sweep of Nicholls, the Islanders earned their first conference sweep of the 2011 season and first since 2008, when they posted a road sweep at Stephen F. Austin in April of that season. The Islanders have already won as many road games in conference play as they did a year ago (three) and have nearly doubled their overall road output with nine wins (five in 2010).
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. Holland, who leads the conference in hits, is in the Southland's top 10 in average, doubles, triples, slugging and total bases.
Over the weekend at Nicholls, he quietly hit .400 with a pair of runs and a pair of RBI on the weekend. He hit three of the Islanders' five doubles, with Weston Montgomery delivering the other two. He also took one for the team when it counted on Friday, as he was hit by a pitch while behind in the count to load the bases en route to putting the Islanders on top.
But his performance against Texas Tech on March 12 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. Needing a longball to complete the trick 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.
NINTH INNING MAGIC
The Islanders wound up with a series sweep at Nicholls, but the results could have been far different if it hadn't been for some ninth-inning heroics by the team's bats.
Down 4-3 on Friday, Texas A&M - Corpus Christi scored four in the top of the ninth to register the victory. Though the outcome was not in doubt, the Islanders added four more on Saturday in a 12-1 win. Then on Sunday, with the score knotted up at 2-2, the Islanders put a six-spot on the board to lift them to an 8-3 victory.
On the series, the Islanders scored 14 runs in the ninth inning, despite the fact that they had tallied just eight in the ninth in the prior 20 games.