ISLANDERS VS. RICE • Houston, Texas
Wednesday, April 20 • 6:30 p.m.
ISLANDERS: RHP Trenton Irwin (0-1, 6.75) | RICE: RHP Tyler Spurlin (2-0, 1.32)
ISLANDERS VS. SOUTHEASTERN LA. • Hammond, La.
Pat Kennelly Diamond at Alumni Field
Thursday, April 21 • 6 p.m.
ISLANDERS: RHP Ian Campbell (5-3, 3.61) | SELA: RHP Brandon Efferson (6-2, 3.97)
Friday, April 22 • 6 p.m.
ISLANDERS: RHP Justin Meza (2-2, 5.61) | SELA: RHP Tyler Watkins (6-1, 2.12)
Saturday, April 23 • 1 p.m.
ISLANDERS: LHP Todd Simko (5-6, 6.39) | SELA: TBA
THE FIRST PITCH
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi baseball team returns to the road after a rough homestand, and will play Rice on Wednesday night before continuing on to Hammond to face Southeastern Louisiana over the Thursday-Friday-Saturday Easter weekend series. The Islanders enter the trip with a 22-18 overall record and a 7-11 mark in Southland action.
Rice is 24-16 on the year and currently ranked 19th in the nation. The Owls have won five of their last six non-conference games, and have already gone 2-1 against the Southland this year. Rice defeated Lamar and Texas State earlier this year, but fell to Sam Houston State. Southeastern is 24-14 and 10-8 in conference play, after losing two of three to Texas State. The Lions have won series over UTSA, Lamar and UT Arlington, but lost to McNeese State and Central Arkansas in addition to the Bobcats.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
The Islanders are 0-11 all-time against Rice, including a pair of losses last year. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is 4-5 all-time against the Lions, including a series win in the Coastal Bend last year.
SPEAK SOFTLY, AND CARRY A BIG STICK
Teddy Roosevelt wasn't speaking of senior Matt Holland when he uttered that, but there may be no phrase that applies better for the Watkins, Iowa, native. Holland, who is in the Southland's top 10 in doubles, triples and home runs on the year, is a very measured individual. And though he is an important leader for the Islanders, he does so by example.
He leads the team with his 16 multi-hit games and 13 contests with more than one RBI. With 14 two-baggers, he is just six shy of the season record.
At UTSA, the lefty rocked his third and fourth homers of the year, the latter a mammoth shot that cleared the batter's eye in center, 405 feet from the plate. He had three hits, a run and an RBI in the opener with Lamar and a clutch two-run double at Houston-Victoria and now has 37 RBI on the season.
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 to finish off the cycle.
Coming into 2011, senior Ian Campbell's role on the team was expected to provide depth to the staff. But his performance as of late has earned him a spot as the Friday starter last weekend.
Campbell showed his worthiness for that selection, as he tossed a four-hit shutout at Lamar last Friday. It was the first complete-game shutout for the Islanders since Roy Ferdin had one in 2008. He did not allow a runner past second base until the ninth inning, and finished off the affair by getting Ted Zentek to go down swinging.
In 12 appearances, including nine starts, Campbell is 5-3 with a staff-leading 3.61 ERA. The senior, who throws four pitches for strikes, has allowed less than one hit per inning and has 49 strikeouts in 62 1/3.
The soft-spoken Glendale, Ariz., native played two years at Yavapai 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.
Alvin Community College transfer Michael Boyle had saves in his first two career appearances, and with 16 games to go on the year, he has already anointed himself as the Islanders' single-season and career record holder with seven saves.
On Saturday, Feb. 19, against MVSU, the Houston native closed out both of the Islanders' wins in the doubleheader, earning his first two career saves.
In the win over Oregon State, he proved his gutsiest, punching out four in 1 2/3 and stranding the tying run on third. He struck out the side in the ninth to send the crowd of 3,000-plus to its feet in sealing the win. He has since posted four more saves, including two in conference action.