Holland's Walk-Off Single Leads Islanders to 7-6 Victory

CORPUS CHRISTI - Matt Holland

delivered a one-out single to right field to score Chris Vergne and give the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi baseball team a 7-6 walk-off win over Central Arkansas on Saturday at Chapman Field. Omar Garcia added two hits, including his first homer of the season, to help the Islanders (25-21, 10-13 Southland) to their third straight win.

With the score tied 6-6 heading to the ninth, Vergne drew a leadoff walk to start the rally. After a Jeramie Marek flyout, Trey Hernandez ripped a ball through the left side to advance Vergne to second base. UCA (19-23, 9-14) drew the outfield in to try to stop a single from scoring the center fielder, but Holland got the job done anyway. The lefty turned on a 1-0 pitch and hit a hard chopper through the right side. Right fielder Jake Fuller charged and gunned to the plate, but Vergne was able to sneak his hand around the tag at home to score the winning run and send the Islanders into celebration.

The Islanders are now in a three-way tie for seventh with McNeese State and Nicholls at 10-13 in conference action, and Texas A&M - Corpus Christi holds the tiebreaker over both teams head-to-head. UCA and Lamar are both 9-14, just a game behind, with 10 conference games remaining.

Hernandez went 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI in the win, while Jacob Perales, Weston Montgomery and Garcia each had two hits. Vergne, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, scored twice and had an RBI in the win. Travis Snider had two hits and two RBI in the loss for the Bears, while Jonathan Houston had a pair of base knocks as well.

Philip Garcia collected the win in relief for the Islanders, striking out the only man he faced in the top of the ninth. Ian Campbell surrendered nine hits and four runs, three earned, in seven innings of work in a no-decision. Jackson Lowery was carded with the loss in relief after giving up two hits and two walks in 1 1/3 innings.

Texas A&M - Corpus Christi got on the board in the bottom of the first. Hernandez lined a ball to left field with one away, and Ethan Harris came up empty on a diving effort. Hernandez capitalized, as he motored into third with his second triple of the year. Holland lofted the next pitch into center for a sac fly to make it 1-0 Islanders. But UCA struck back in the top of the second, as Snider hit a liner down the right-field line that stayed just inside the pole for a two-run shot and a 2-1 Bears lead.

Dustin Ward put zeroes on the board in the second, third and fourth, at one point retiring eight in a row, to keep his team up one. Campbell kept the Bears off the board in the third and fourth, but in the fifth a leadoff walk, a single and two sac bunts scored a run to make it 3-1 for UCA. In the sixth, Michael Pair reached on an error and later scored on a two-out single by Kyle Prevett to give the visitors a 4-1 advantage.

But after Ward cruised through the first six, things came unraveled in the seventh. Perales led off with a double to left field, and Montgomery followed with a double over the third baseman's head to score him. Omar Garcia followed and lofted a flyball down the right-field line that cleared the fence for a two-run homer to tie the game. Santiago Ruiz was then hit by a pitch to chase Ward from the game. After a sac bunt moved him to second, Vergne delivered a pinch-hit single to score Ruiz for a 5-4 Islanders lead. An errant throw on a pickoff moved Vergne to third, and two batters later Hernandez slammed a sac fly for a 6-4 advantage.

Adam Hoelscher then came on to try to finish off the job, setting down the Bears 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth. In the ninth, he surrendered a one-out single and then retired Jonathan Davis for out number two. But a walk to Houston put the tying run on base and the Islanders called on Michael Boyle. Boyle walked the only man he faced to load the bases, and Chris Pena followed. The lefty surrendered a single to left center by Pair to plate two runs and tie the game 6-6. Garcia finished off the ninth with a strikeout to set up Holland's heroics.

The Islanders and Bears will conclude their series on Sunday at 1 p.m. Members of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee will be on hand to collect athletic shoes for the charitable organization Samaritan's Feet. For more information, go to GoIslanders.com.