CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi baseball team found itself clawing back from an early deficit, but could never quite come all the way back, falling to UTSA 8-3 on Friday at Whataburger Field.
Islanders starter Devin Skapura battled back after early struggles to throw six solid innings of work, despite picking up the loss in a five hit, three earned run outing. He also set down five batters via strikeouts.
Despite giving up just one earned run in a strong start, UTSA starter Brock Hartson was unable to pick up the win after being pulled with two outs in the bottom of the fifth.
Once again several Islanders got in on the scoring, as seven different members of the team came up with a hit, three of those recording an RBI.
The run production came from several different sources for the Roadrunners as well, with six different players driving in runs. C.J. Pickering and Mike Warren were the only two players who contributed multiple RBIs, as each picked up two.
UTSA (4-1) came swinging out of the gate to load the bases with no outs in the bottom of the first, but Skapura was able to get the first out of the inning by fielding a chopper and tossing it home to get the force out at the plate.
Unfortunately, the Islanders (3-5) weren't able to limit the damage any further, as a single moved the runners up 90 feet all around and plated the first run of the evening. C.J. Pickering then stepped up to the plate and knocked in two more on a single before Skapura was able to escape the inning, giving the Roadrunners a 3-0 lead prior to the Islanders even getting a chance to swing their bats.
In the bottom half of the inning, A&M – Corpus Christi looked like they had a chance to push something across, getting runners on first and second with just one out, but back-to-back strikeouts ended the hopes of scoring in the inning.
UTSA capitalized on two errors by the Islanders in the top of the second, as RJ Perucki picked up a single to plate the fourth run of the game for the Roadrunners.
Dominic Lopez got things started for the Islanders in the bottom of the second with a great at-bat, as he laced the 10th pitch that he saw into left field for a leadoff single. After moving up on a passed ball, a Josh Garza grounder allowed Lopez to scamper home for the Islanders' first run of the game to cut the UTSA lead down to three.
Just as the offense came, it left. Both Devin Skapura and Hartson each got into a nice rhythm, as neither team was able to push across a run in the next two and a half innings. During that stretch Skapura even strung together a streak of 10 set down in a row.
The Islanders broke through for the next run of the game to cut the lead down to two. It was Kyle Danford who came up with a huge RBI single to bring Lee in to score after he stole a base prior to Danford stepping in. This made it a 4-2 ballgame heading into the sixth.
Skapura saw his streak of consecutive hitters set down snapped, as Pickering led the top of the sixth off with a double down the left field line. However, the freshman settled right back in to set down the next three hitters to finish his outing off strong after giving up the four runs early.
The Islanders came right back to continue chipping away at the UTSA lead in the bottom half of the sixth. Zach Gibson was called on to hit with a runner on first and two outs, and he came through with a single to advance Brandon Tierney around to third. Cody Stephens kept the rally alive, driving one to the outfield for an RBI single to pull the Islanders within one.
Lee then stepped up and had a chance to tie the game up before the end of the six, as he smoked one to the left side of the infield, but the shortstop extended and picked it out of the air for the final out to keep the runners stuck on first and second.
The Islanders threated once again in the bottom of the seventh by getting runners on first and second with one out, but two different pitchers came out of the UTSA bullpen to get a strikeout and a flyout to end A&M – Corpus Christi's chance of tying the game at four.
However, this was as close to knotting the game that Islanders would get, as UTSA scored three runs in the top of the eighth off the power of two RBI singles to seal the game. The Roadrunners also benefited off of two hit batsmen and a walk in the inning. UTSA added its eighth run in the final frame on a sac fly.
The Islanders will close out their appearance in the 2014 Kleberg Bank College Classic with a tough opponent on Saturday, taking on No. 19 TCU for the nightcap at 6 p.m. Trevor Belicek is slated to take the mound for the Islanders against Preston Morrison for TCU.
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