CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi Baseball team got plenty of runs throughout the game, but one was all they would need as Trevor Belicek and Franco Pace combined for a shutout of Northwestern State, winning 11-0 in seven innings as the Islanders run-ruled the Demons to even the Southland Conference series at one game apiece.
The rubber match is set for 1 p.m. at Chapman Field, with the team looking to win its third series in a row.
The Islanders (20-14, 7-4 Southland) won their 20th game of the season as Belicek (5-1) pitched into the seventh and finished with 6.0 innings while giving up seven hits and no runs while walking two and striking out four batters. When he ran into trouble in the top of seventh against the Demons (11-24, 2-9 Southland), Pace came on to finish it off, getting a pair of strikeouts and a fly out to strand runners at second and third to end the game.
Brad Lamberti led the team with three hits in the game, while Brandon Tierney had two, a double and the first home run of his career, while driving in a pair of runners. Cody Stephens and Zach Taylor also had two hits in the game while picking up one RBI apiece. Brad Porras, Eric Weiss, Jonathan Gonzales and Kyle Danford had one hit each. Lamberti, Gonzales, Weiss, Danford and Jordan Lee each finished the day with one RBI.
After a scoreless first inning, the Islanders plated all the runs they would need in the bottom of the second, getting two runs on two hits for a 2-0 lead. Gonzales started the inning with a hit-by-pitch, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Lee and came in to score when Tierney hit a ball to left center field, nearly the deepest part of the ballpark, to make it a 2-0 score.
The offense really turned it on in the bottom of the third, plating five more runs as Texas A&M – Corpus Christi took control.
Lamberti led off with a single that chased the Demons starting pitcher from the game. After the pitching change, Stephens reached on catcher's interference and Porras followed with an RBI single up the middle to score Lamberti while Stephens advanced to third base.
Weiss then followed with double to score Stephens, Gonzales singled home Porras and an RBI groundout by Lee plated Weiss as the team scored on four straight plays to extend the lead to 6-0. Taylor got the final RBI of the inning with a single to center that scored Gonzales and made it 7-0.
The score stayed the same until the Islanders got four in the bottom of the sixth to put the run-rule into play.
Tierney started the inning with a double to left center, moved to third on a groundout by Taylor and scored on a ground-rule double by Danford to make it 8-0. Danford then moved to third on a passed ball and came in to score on a Lamberti single through the left side. Stephens followed with an RBI triple to score Lamberti, and Porras finished the scoring at 11-0 with an RBI groundout to the shortstop that allowed Stephens to score.
In the top of the seventh Belicek allowed a walk and a double to put runners on second and third with no outs. That is when Pace came in to get a strikeout swinging, a strikeout looking and then a fly out to center that ended the game.
The rubber match starts at 1 p.m. on Sunday and will feature Matt Danton of the Islanders pitching against Robert Baker of Northwestern State.
Live stats and video will be available by visiting www.GoIslanders.com.
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