CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi baseball team split a doubleheader against BYU on Thursday in the first action of the 2014 Kleberg Bank College Classic at Whataburger Field.
After the Cougars (1-4) offense exploded in the first game with a 10-2 win, second game starter Matt Danton threw 7.2 innings of magnificent work. He limited the Cougars to just one run on six hits, while striking out six to pick up his first win of the season on a 3-1 victory for the Islanders (3-4).
All five of the runs on the day were driven in by different players for the Islanders, while Eric Urry paced the Cougars with a 5-of-7 performance at the dish to go along with three RBIs and two walks.
In the first game of the day, the Cougars jumped out to an early lead. After a scoreless first frame, BYU struck first, as Urry came through with a bases-loaded single just out of the reach of Zack Gibson to plate the first run of the game. However, Tyler Ware came up gunning, as the runner tried to come around from second to score, but the strong throw by the right fielder mowed him down at the plate to keep the Cougars lead at one.
The Islanders came back to tie the game in the top of the fourth. Jordan Lee got things going, placing one in front of the center fielder to reach on a leadoff single. A wild pitch advanced him all the way to third before Ware drove him home on a single to right.
Ware advanced up to second on steal with still no outs in the inning, but Desmond Poulson made two big plays to get out of the inning by striking out Kyle Danford and doubling up Ware after Dominic Lopez lined out to him.
After Gavin Williamson mowed down the side for the Islanders in order in the top of the third and got out of a small jam with runners on first and third with two outs in the fourth, the Cougars exploded in the fifth inning. Stringing together six hits and eight runs, BYU was able to hang an eight spot in the inning to give it a commanding 9-1 lead.
The Cougars were also to capitalize on some Islanders miscues, as A&M – Corpus Christi committed three errors in the half inning.
This gave Poulson more than enough cushion, as he continued rolling. He scattered just six hits in the contest, allowing one more run in the eighth, his final inning. He also picked up four strikeouts in the winning effort.
In game two, the pitching was almost unhittable out of the gate once again for BYU. Lefty Hayden Rogers mowed through the Islanders, allowing just three hits and no runs through the first five. He also came up with big pickoff to negate a leadoff single in the top of the fourth.
His team didn't give him much run support, as the only run coming over the first five for BYU came as Urry drilled one up the middle with runners on first and second. The ball bounced off Danton's leg and trickled past Cody Stephens just far enough to allow the runner to come all the way around to score the first run of the game.
The Islanders bats took advantage of Danton's dominance on the mound in the sixth inning. Jacob Hubert got the momentum rolling, lacing one down the right field line to pull in with a one-out double.
Ware was then hit by a pitch for the fifth time of the season before Kyle Danford, the leading RBI man on his team, dropped one in the gap to bring Hubert around to score to knot the game at one.
With Ware moving up to third on the Danford single, Lee was able to come on and drive one out to center to pick up an RBI on a sacrifice fly, giving the Islanders their first lead of the day.
With the score still showing a 2-1 Islanders lead in the bottom of the seventh and two outs, the BYU pitching started to struggle. After a single, the Cougars hit two consecutive batters before bringing on a lefty to matchup with Ware. However, the reliever came on to throw four straight balls with the bases loaded to give Ware an easy RBI to put the Islanders up 3-1.
By this time, Danton was rolling along. After setting down the first two batters in the top of the eighth, the big righty had set down 12 consecutive batters. However, back-to-back singles snapped the streak and spelled the end of the night for Danton.
Kaleb Keith was spectacular coming in on relief, getting a fly out on just one pitch to end the inning and preserve a 3-1 lead. He then came back on in the ninth and closed the door to pick up his first career save and secure the win to split the doubleheader.
The Islanders will be back out at Whataburger Field on Friday, to take on former Southland foe UTSA at 6 p.m. to continue play in the Classic.
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