Texas A&M - Corpus Christi scored 10 runs in the bottom of the third, then held off a late McNeese State rally for a 10-8 victory on Friday night at Whataburger Field. Jumpy Garcia hit a grand slam for the Islanders (17-8, 4-3 Southland) in the victory.
The top four hitters in the Islanders lineup - Drew Vest, Bobby Buckner, Trey Hernandez and Matt Holland - each had two hits in the win. Buckner and Hernandez each scored twice for the Islanders. Jace Peterson and Seth Granger each had three hits in the loss for the Cowboys (13-10, 4-3).
Todd Simko pitched five gutsy innings to improve to 4-2 on the season, striking out eight. Trevor Foss, Philip Garcia and Michael Boyle pitched scoreless frames in relief, with Boyle collecting his sixth save, one shy of the school's all-time record. Zach Butler was carded with the loss for the Cowboys, while Jonathan Conrad pitched 5 1/3 stellar innings out of the pen in a losing effort.
The Cowboys got out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Blake Ellender led off with a single to left and Jace Peterson saw his lazy flyball carry all the way to the wall with the help of the wind, and it glanced off Chris Vergne's glove for an RBI double. But Simko emerged without further damage in the inning with a pair of strikeouts. McNeese added an RBI fielder's choice in the top of the third to make it 2-0.
That's when the Islanders offense came alive, dropping a 10-spot on the Cowboys in the bottom of the third. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi used eight hits and three walks to plate double digits in the frame, with three doubles, a triple and a homer to go along with a trio of singles.
The big blow in the inning was Garcia's grand slam, as he ripped a towering flyball to left center that cleared the wall for his third longball of the season to break a 2-2 tie and make it 6-2 in favor of the home squad. Sean Washington added an RBI triple and Buckner and Hernandez each posted RBI doubles.
McNeese rebounded with three in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to 10-5. Two hits and a hit batsman loaded the bases and then Simko walked in a run to make it 10-3. The lefty rebounded with consecutive punchouts, but a borderline 3-2 pitch didn't go his way for the fourth McNeese run, and the visitors added an RBI single to make it a five-run game.
The Cowboys added another three-spot in the top of the eighth to trim the deficit to 10-8. Lee Orr and Seth Granger started with consecutive hits to make it 10-6, then Renny Weber walked. A sac fly and an RBI single trimmed the score to 10-8 before Philip Garcia put out the fire to end the eighth. Michael Boyle worked a 1-2-3 ninth to finish off the game.
The Islanders and Cowboys will continue their three-game set on Saturday at 2 p.m. with the series finale on Sunday at 1. Both games will be played at Whataburger Field.