May 25, 2012

Islanders Season Comes to a Close With Heartbreaker to Sam Houston State

SAN MARCOS, Texas – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi baseball season came to an end here on Friday morning, with the Islanders falling by a 4-3 final to the No. 1 seed Sam Houston Bearkats in an elimination game. The Bearkats won on a walk-off home run to advance in the Southland Conference Baseball Tournament.

The Islanders season ends at 24-33, while the Bearkats move to 38-19 with the win. Senior Phillip Garcia got the loss, pitching 3.2 innings and giving up no runs until the first pitch of the ninth to Anthony Azar. He was tagged with the loss to finish his final season as an Islander at 0-2, but the closer extended his school record to 16 saves, and set a new single-season record with eight during the year.

The game was also the final one of the careers for Jeramie Marek, Weston Montgomery, Santiago Ruiz, Drew Vest, Omar Garcia, Marc Damon, Alex Jack, Dan Sciantarelli, and Michael Boyle. Bobby Buckner, the 11th Islanders senior, had an injury end his season earlier in the year.

The team finished 1-2 in the tournament, knocking off the Bearkats in the opening game, before falling to UT Arlington on Thursday, and then SHSU on Friday morning. It was the first time in school history that the team made back-to-back appearances in the postseason tourney, with the Islanders finishing 3-2 in the tournament last year.

The final game of the season started out rough for Texas A&M – Corpus Christi, falling behind early before rallying in the sixth to even things up.

In the bottom of the second, a walk and two straight singles scored the first run of the game to give Sam Houston a 1-0 lead. They added to the lead in the bottom of the third, the Bearkats added another run on a sacrifice fly to take a 2-0 lead.

A leadoff home run by Sam Houston catcher John Hale in the fifth extended the lead to 3-0 over the Islanders.

The Islanders got on the board in the top of the sixth, as singles from Jordan Lee and Jonathan Gonzales put runners on first and second. After the second out of the inning, it looked like the rally may be snuffed out, but Montgomery came up with a big double down the left field line to score Lee and put runners at second and third.

Marek followed with a double of his own, hitting one off the wall in left center to score Gonzales and Montgomery to even the score at 3-3 and chase Bearkats starter Michael Oros from the game.

Both of the teams threatened late, with Sam Houston getting a pair on in the bottom of the seventh, while the Islanders did the same in the top of the eighth, but neither were able to capitalize on it at the time.

After the top of the ninth, the score remained 3-3, but Anthony Azar hit the first pitch of the bottom of the ninth over the left field wall for a walk-off home run to give the Bearkats a 4-3 win.

The homer ended the season, but the Islanders team has a bright future with the returning roster. Lee led the team in hitting as a freshman, finishing the year with a .333 average. Gonzales hit .299 on the year while leading the team with nine home runs and 33 RBI. Brad Porras was also a big part of the Islanders lineup, finishing second on the team, along with Stafford Brantley, at three home runs.

Daniel Minor, one of the top pitchers in the Southland Conference, had a spectacular junior season, earning the Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year award and finishing second in Pitcher of the Year balloting. Heading into the tournament, he was eighth in the country for strikeouts, and he finished the year with a 2.20 ERA, the lowest among starting pitchers in the Southland Conference.

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