Junior Bobby Buckner hit a walk-off home run on an 0-2 pitch in the bottom of the ninth to send the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi baseball team to a momentous 2-1 win over UTSA on Friday at the Southland Conference Tournament. The Islanders will now take on Stephen F. Austin on Friday at 4 p.m. in another elimination game.
Buckner, who had not hit a home run all season, fell behind reliever Kevin Clarke 0-2, then ripped a changeup off the top and over the wall in right-center field for a walk-off win. Justin Meza was brilliant in a no-decision, striking out nine and scattering eight hits in eight innings, while Tanner Green picked up a win out of the pen for the Islanders (36-23) after throwing a scoreless ninth.
Clarke collected the loss with two hits allowed in 2 1/3 innings. It marked the first time that the Islanders have defeated UTSA in five tries this season. Freshman Blake Denman scattered five hits in 6 1/3 for the Roadrunners, allowing just one run in a no-decision.
Buckner was the lone Islander with more than one hit, going 2-for-5. Trey Hernandez drove in the other run for Texas A&M - Corpus Christi, while Matt Holland extended his hitting streak to 16 games in the win. Matthew James, Ryan Dalton, Mike Warren and Daniel Rockett each had two hits in the loss.
The Roadrunners struck first in the top of the second, taking a 1-0 lead. Dalton led off with a jam-shot single to center, and two batters later Jason Mohn reached on an infield single to put runners at the corners with one away. After Meza got a strikeout for the second out, Warren dribbled a single just out of the reach of the diving Jeramie Marek at second for an RBI and a 1-0 advantage.
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi responded with a two-out rally in the third. Marek started things by drawing a walk, and he moved to third when Holland ripped a single up the middle. Hernandez followed, and roped a liner just over the head of a leaping Dalton and into the left-field corner for an RBI double to knot the score at 1-1. It marked the 200th career RBI for the slugger.
From then on, though, it became a tremendous pitcher's duel between the two freshmen. At one point, Meza retired 11 in a row, then rebounded after back-to-back two-out singles in the sixth to catch Mohn looking to end the threat. Denman emerged from a similar fate in the bottom of the sixth, inducing a double play with two on and one out.
In the seventh, the Islanders used a walk and a single to put runners at the corners and one out for Marek. The junior dribbled a ball on the left side, but Caleb Marx had to hold at third to leave two runners in scoring position with two down. The Roadrunners then intentionally walked Holland to load the bases, and Clarke struck out Hernandez to end the frame. That set up Buckner's heroics after Green pitched a scoreless ninth.
The Islanders will take on Stephen F. Austin this afternoon at 4 p.m. with a chance to advance to Saturday's action. Live stats and video will be available at Southland.org and live audio will be carried on GoIslanders.com.