Chapman Field (7,400) • Corpus Christi, Texas
LIVE VIDEO/STATS: GoIslanders.com
Tuesday, March 29 • 2 p.m.
ISLANDERS: LHP Roy Ferdin (3-0, 3.98) | HBU: TBA
THE FIRST PITCH
Winners of seven straight, the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi baseball team steps out of conference play on Tuesday afternoon for a matchup against Houston Baptist. It will be the third meeting of the season between the Islanders and Huskies, as Texas A&M - Corpus Christi swept a doubleheader in Houston on March 1, 8-3 and 13-3.
The Islanders are off to the best start in school history at 19-8, and their seven-game win streak is the longest since a nine gamer to start the 2007 season. Only two teams in the NCAA currently have longer active win streaks than the Islanders - Georgia Tech and North Carolina. The Islanders swept McNeese State at Whataburger Field over the weekend, their second straight series sweep, to improve to 6-3 in conference play and move into a tie for third with Lamar and UT Arlington.
Houston Baptist is just 1-18 on the season, but the one win was an impressive one, as the Huskies knocked off preseason No. 1 TCU and top pitcher Matt Purke on March 12. The Huskies were last in action on Wednesday, March 23, when they lost at Texas, 12-0.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
The Islanders are now 4-1 all-time against HBU with all five games in the series coming in the last four seasons. In addition to this year's doubleheader sweep, the Islanders took the contests in 2008 (6-3) and 2009 (10-7) before falling to the Huskies last season (10-5).
SCOUTING THE HUSKIES
Houston Baptist has had a tough start to 2011, as both hitting and pitching have struggled. The team has a .219 batting average and a 6.95 ERA as a whole. However, slugger Robbie Buller has still had a solid season, posting seven jacks while hitting .250 and scoring 16 runs.
With seven consecutive wins, the Islanders have posted their longest win streak since beginning the 2007 season 9-0. But more impressive is the fact that only two teams - Georgia Tech (16) and North Carolina (9) - in the NCAA have a longer winning streak to their name. The Islanders are joined by Alabama, Fresno State and St. John's in having seven-game winning streaks.
With their 19-8 start, the Islanders are off to their best opening in school history. That has led to impressive numbers in the Ratings Percentage Index according to RPI gurus Warren Nolan and Boyd Nation. The Islanders opened the week 41st in Boyd's World's RPI calculation and 46th in Nolan's book. The Islanders are also 25th in the Nolan Percentage Index ratings.
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is 3-5 against teams in the top 50 of the RPI, with wins over Texas (45), Oregon State (30) and Texas Tech (33). Only two of the Islanders' defeats has come at the hands of a team outside the top 65, with those to power conference teams Iowa (89th) and Connecticut (120th).
SWEEP EMOTION With a three-game sweep of McNeese State, the Islanders have now swept back-to-back conference series for the first time in school history. The six straight conference wins are also a program record. This is the third time that the Islanders have swept two conference series in a single season, doing so in both 2007 and 2008.
With the three-game sweep at 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).
NINTH INNING MAGIC
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi has shown a flair for the dramatic lately, and the ninth inning has become a scoring frame for the Islanders. In their last four ninth innings (did not play the ninth in three of the four home wins) the Islanders have posted 16 runs, despite the fact that they had tallied just eight in the ninth in the prior 20 games.
On Sunday, the Islanders posted one of the wildest comebacks in school history. Starter Dustin Lloyd had been a master of control all game, but one hit and three hit batsmen tied the score at 3-3. The game ended on a wild pitch, as Dan Sciantarelli scampered home for the win.
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 at Nicholls, Texas A&M - Corpus Christi scored four in the top of the ninth to register the win and the Islanders added four more on Saturday. On Sunday, with the score knotted 2-2, the Islanders put a six-spot on the board to lift them to an 8-3 victory.