HUNTSVILLE, Texas – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi baseball team led early, fell behind late and tied the score in the final inning before a walk-off balk call by the home plate umpire ended the game as No. 27 Sam Houston State picked up an 8-7 win in the second game of the Southland Conference series. The two teams will finish the series on Sunday with a 1 p.m. first pitch.
The Islanders fall to 18-25 on the year, and are now 10-13 in Southland Conference play. The Bearkats are 30-12 this season, 18-5 in league games. Adam Hoelscher started the game and pitched well until running into trouble during the sixth inning to get the no decision. Tanner Green was tagged with the loss to fall to 2-1 on the year after pitching 1.2 innings and giving up one run on no hits, as the run that scored to end the game reached on a hit-by-pitch.
In the top of the first, the Islanders got on the board after Jordan Lee reached on a hit-by-pitch and came around to score on a Jonathan Gonzales home run over the left field wall to make it a 2-0 game.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Bearkats cut the lead in half with a run of their own to make it a 2-1 game.
Texas A&M – Corpus Christi made it a 3-1 game in the top of the fourth as Brad Porras led things off with a double down the right field line, moved to third on a Weston Montgomery single through the left side, and came home to score on a Stafford Brantley sacrifice fly.
In the bottom of the sixth, Hoelscher ran into trouble as the first three batters reached on two singles and a hit-by-pitch. After a single made it 3-2, Matt Danton came on to pitch in relief. A fielder's choice and a sacrifice bunt scored a pair of runs to make it a 4-3 lead for the Bearkats before Texas A&M – Corpus Christi was able to get out of the inning.
The Islanders scored a run in the top of the seventh to knot the game at 4-4. Santiago Ruiz started things off by reaching on a hit-by-pitch, moving to second on a wild pitch, advancing to third on a ground out and coming home to score on a suicide squeeze bunt single by Drew Vest.
An unfortunate series of events transpired in the bottom half of the seventh that allowed the Bearkats to score three more runs to take a 7-4 lead. The leadoff hitter popped up on the infield, but Montgomery was the only one to see the ball in the air and was unable to complete the run across the diamond from third base to make the catch on what went into the scorebook as an infield single.
The next batter grounded to Vest on the infield, but the shortstop was unable to get the ball out of his glove on what was a tailor-made double play ball that went down as an error. The next batter tripled over the head of Brantley in centerfield to score the two runners, and an error on the throw into the infield allowed the batter to score from third to make it a 7-4 game.
The Islanders struck back in the top of the eighth, scoring a pair of runs to cut the lead to 7-6. Eric Weiss opened the inning with a single and moved to second on a Montgomery single to left field. Jeramie Marek moved the runners to second and third on a groundout. Trevor Belicek pinch hit for Ruiz and drew a walk to load the bases, and Omar Garcia came on to pinch run for Belicek.
Lee followed with a big two-out, two-RBI single up the middle to cut the lead to 7-6 after eight innings.
In the top of the ninth, Gonzales singled down the left field line to start the inning, and Kyle Danford came on to run for him. After a Porras groundout moved Danford to second, Weiss came through with a huge double to left center field to score Danford and tie the game at 7-7.
In a strange turn of events during the bottom of the ninth, Sam Houston got runners on the corners with one out, and the home plate umpire called a balk on Phillip Garcia during his delivery to bring home the winning run for the Bearkats to make it an 8-7 final.
Vest, Gonzales and Weiss picked up three hits apiece in the game, while Montgomery had two on the day. Lee and Gonzales had a pair of RBIs, while Vest, Weiss and Brantley had one in the middle game of the series. Lee and Porras rounded out the lineup with one hit each to bring the team total to 13 in the game.
The two teams will play the rubber match on Sunday with a 1 p.m. start. Daniel Minor will start for the Islanders while the Bearkats have not named a starting pitcher for the game.
Live stats and audio will be available by visiting www.GoIslanders.com.
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