CORPUS CHRISTI – It was Senior Day for the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi Baseball team, and the group did not disappoint, with the trio of Brad Porras, Jonathan Gonzales and Eric Weiss combining for nine hits and eight RBI as the team won a wild, come-from-behind victory by a 17-15 margin over the Lamar Cardinals. The win gave the Islanders a series victory over the Cardinals and second place heading into the final weekend of the regular season.
The Islanders (30-21, 15-9 Southland) won their 30th game for the second time in two years, and just the fourth time in program history. With all the seniors contributing offensively, it was true freshman Kaleb Keith (1-0) who got the win, pitching 2.1 innings of shutout baseball, giving up just one hit and walking two while getting the biggest strikeout of the day to end the eighth inning.
The game featured 405 total pitches between the teams in 3:54 of game time, with the Islanders out-hitting the Cardinals by a 21-16 margin.
Weiss led the way with four hits on the day, while Porras, Brandon Tierney and Kyle Danford had three apiece. Gonzales, Jordan Lee and Jacob Hubert each picked up two, while Cody Stephens and Russell Vaughan had one each. Porras had a game-high four RBI, followed closely Weiss with three on the day. Lee had two RBI, one of which was the game winner, while Stephens also added two. Gonzales, Tierney, Danford, Vaughan and Hubert had one RBI apiece to round out the offensive output.
In a sign of things to come, Lamar started the scoring quickly by plating two runs with one out in the top of the first inning.
The Islanders cut the deficit in half with a run in the bottom of the first, with Stephens drawing a leadoff walk, and scoring on an RBI double by Porras to make it 2-1.
After a scoreless top of the second, Texas A&M – Corpus Christi took a brief lead as Hubert singled to center, moved to second on a single by Stephens and scored on an RBI single by Porras. Stephens advanced to third on the play and came in to score on an RBI groundout by Gonzales that made it a 3-2 Islanders lead.
Both teams went scoreless in their next half-inning before the Islanders plated nine runs on six hits in the bottom of the fourth as they seemingly took control. All nine runs came after the first two batters were set down, with the big hit of the inning coming on a two-out, three-RBI double by Porras with the bases loaded that just missed being a grand slam, as the ball hit the base of the wall in left center. The team sent 13 batters to the plate before Lamar recorded the final out with the Islanders leading 12-6.
Lamar cut the lead by one run in the top of the sixth, and followed with eight more in the top of the seventh as two errors costing the Islanders five unearned runs as they trailed 15-12.
Despite getting behind by three with just nine outs left for their offense, the team responded immediately, plating two runs in the bottom half of the eighth to cut the deficit to 15-14. Lee started the rally with a one-out walk, moved to second on an infield single by Danford and came around to score on an RBI single by Vaughan. Hubert drew a walk to load the bases, and Stephens picked up his second RBI on a sacrifice fly to center that scored Lee to make it 15-14.
The first two batters of the top of the eighth inning walked as Keith got into trouble, but he got a fly out and fielder's choice from the next two batters to put Cardinal runners on first and third with two outs. With Lamar just 90 feet away from extending the lead, the freshman came up with a huge strikeout swinging to end the threat and preserve the one-run game.
The Islanders offense did the rest of the work, picking up three in the bottom half to put the game out of reach. Gonzales led it off with a double to right center field, and he came around to score on an RBI single by Weiss to knot it at 15-15. Tierney doubled to left center to put runners on second and third, and Lee followed with an RBI single up the middle to give his team a 16-15 lead as Weiss came home to score. Tierney moved to third on the play, and he came in to score on a wild pitch, breaking as soon as the ball got away and sliding in just before the tag from the catcher, as the ball ricocheted off the backstop and came right back to fielder, but Tierney beat him back to the plate to make it 17-15.
Keith got two quick outs in the top of the ninth before giving up his only hit of the day, a double down the left field line, but he induced a game-ending foul out to Porras at third base to finish off the game for the Islanders.
In what turned out to be a memorable Senior Day for all those involved, 10 players were recognized for their contributions to the program before the start of the contest. Stafford Brantley, Eric Weiss, Trevor Foss, Adam Hoelscher, Tim Keller, Jonathan Gonzales, Franco Pace, Tim Beard, Brad Porras and Seth Horton were honored at the start of the contest on Mother's Day, with the moms of the players throwing out ceremonial first pitches to the seniors to kick things off.
Next up for the Islanders will be the final series of the regular season, with the team traveling to Stephen F. Austin on an important weekend for the Islanders Southland Conference title hopes and seeding in the upcoming conference tournament. The Islanders currently sit two games behind Sam Houston State for first place in the league with just three games to go.
For all the latest on Islanders Baseball, like the team on Facebook (Islanders Baseball), follow them on Twitter (@CorpusBaseball) and visit www.GoIslanders.com.