Pinch-runner Dan Sciantarelli scored the winning run on a bases-loaded wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi baseball team to a 4-3 walk-off victory over McNeese State on Sunday at Whataburger Field. The Islanders (19-8, 6-3) have now won seven games in a row to post their best 27-game record in program history.
Down 3-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Islanders were able to plate two runs for the come-from-behind victory. Starter Dustin Lloyd, who was a master of control all game, throwing 83 pitches and 62 strikes, hit Matt Holland with a pitch with one down. Jacob Perales was then hit with a 3-2 offering to put two on and one out, and Perales was replaced by Sciantarelli at first.
After a flyout, pinch-hitter Santiago Ruiz ripped a single to right, but the Islanders had to hold Holland at third after it went directly to Lee Orr in right field. Jeramie Marek was then hit by yet another Lloyd 3-2 offering to tie the score at 3-3, and then Lloyd's next pitch sailed over the head of Logan Nottebrok, and Sciantarelli scampered home to send the Islanders faithful into a raucous celebration.
Trey Hernandez and Chris Vergne each hit solo home runs to left field in the win, as Lloyd limited the Islanders to just six hits in the game. Seth Granger had three hits in the loss for McNeese, while leadoff man Blake Ellender scored twice. Justin Meza pitched eight innings, surrendering just six hits and three walks in picking up a no-decision. Todd Simko pitched to one batter, but it was the last one for the Cowboys (13-12, 4-5), and Simko was credited with a win in relief, his second victory of the weekend.
McNeese State got out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, using a leadoff double and a pair of wild pitches to plate a run. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi responded in the third. After Lloyd had set down the first six batters in order, Vergne hit a towering fly to left that just cleared the fence for his second longball of the season to make it a 1-1 game.
The next inning, Hernandez got into the action. Leading off the frame, he ripped an 0-1 Lloyd offering just over the fence in left for his second bomb in as many days and his sixth of the season to give the home squad a 2-1 lead. But from that point forward, Lloyd settled in, surrendering just two hits and no walks over the next four frames to keep the score there into the eighth.
Meza was up to the challenge as well, throwing zeroes on the board every inning from the second to the seventh. In the seventh, though, McNeese mounted a rally. A single and a hit batsman with one out started things, and after a groundout, Jace Peterson drew a walk to load the bags with two down. But Meza got Orr to bounce out to shortstop to end the frame and leave them loaded.
In the eighth, the Cowboys were finally able to crack Meza again. Granger hit a ball down the line, and it was called fair for a double into the right-field corner. After a sacrifice moved him to third, Nick Eubanks punched a ball through the drawn-in infield to tie the score at 2-2.
In the ninth, McNeese got a one-out walk by Ellender off Phillip Garcia, and then Adam Hoelscher came in to face Peterson. The lefty jammed Peterson, but the ball spun just inside the left-field line and skittered away from Holland for an RBI triple. Hoelscher rebounded to strike out Orr, and then Simko came on to retire Granger to end the inning and set up the ninth-inning heroics.
The Islanders are back in action on Tuesday, when they play host to Houston Baptist. First pitch is slated for 2 p.m. at Chapman Field. Live video and statistics will be available on GoIslanders.com.