April 6, 2014

Baseball Drops Series to SFA in Offense Fueled Finale

CORPUS CHRISTI – Ricardo Sanchez' two-out single in the top of the ninth lifted Stephen F. Austin to a 7-6 victory over the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi baseball team on Sunday at Chapman Field. The Lumberjacks (15-15, 6-6 Southland) took two of three from the Islanders (17-17, 7-5) in the weekend series.

Sanchez and Nick Ramos each delivered four hits in the win for SFA, which posted 19 base knocks on the day. Brett Thornell added three hits as well, while Rick Cruz and Zach Marberry had two apiece. Josh Keith collected the win out of the bullpen for the 'Jacks, going 1 1/3 perfect innings.

Frankie Salas led the way with a trio of hits for A&M-Corpus Christi in the loss, as four others – Jordan Lee, Brandon Tierney, Cody Stephens and Russell Vaughan – had two each. Kaleb Keith was carded with the loss for the Islanders, allowing only an unearned run in the ninth.

Stephen F. Austin was able to crack the scoreboard first, stringing together three straight hits to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the second. Ramos started the rally with a single, and Brett Thornell followed with a hustle double to put runners on second and third with one away. Kyle Thornell came up next and sent one to center field, scoring Ramos for a 1-0 lead.

In the third, the Lumberjacks doubled their lead with a little bit of small ball. Conner Fikes delivered a two-out single, then moved to second on a stolen base. Ramos followed with a slow roller up the middle. Stephens grabbed it on the backhand and threw to first, but Ramos dived to the bag in time to beat out the single. Meanwhile, Fikes never stopped, rounding third and coming home for the second run of the game.

Meanwhile, Kevin Bishop kept cruising for the Lumberjacks, facing the minimum in the first two innings and putting zeroes on the scoreboard every inning in the first five. The 'Jacks then added two more to their total in the top of the sixth, tacking on runs on RBI singles from Cruz and Marberry to make it 4-0.

But the Islanders came back with a four-spot in the bottom of the frame to tie the score, putting together six hits in the inning. With runners on second and third and one out, Kyle Danford delivered a sac fly for the second out, putting the Islanders' first run on the board. After Zack Gibson drew a walk, Stephens ripped one just inside the third-base bag for a two-run double to make it 4-3. Salas followed, and delivered a single to center, plating Stephens to knot the score 4-4.

SFA came back with a pair of runs in the top of the eighth to regain a 6-4 lead. Mackenzie Handel and Marberry delivered one out singles, and then after a strikeout, Ramos came through with his fourth base knock of the day to plate Handel to make it 5-4. Brett Thornell followed, rolling a single through the left side to score Marberry, but Ramos was thrown out at the plate to end the inning with the score 6-4 in favor of the visitors.

The Islanders were undaunted, though, coming right back with a pair of runs to knot the score once more. Stephens and Salas notched consecutive singles with one away, and a Vaughan fielder's choice put runners at the corners and two down. Vaughan then stole second, and pinch-hitter Zacarias Hardy followed. Hardy dribbled a ball over the pitcher's mound, and the shortstop's throw got away from the first baseman to score both runs and tie the score 6-6.

But SFA received Sanchez' ninth-inning heroics, as his single over the shortstop's head plated Matthew Dickey with two away in the top of the ninth. A&M-Corpus Christi went down in order in the bottom of the frame to end the contest.

The Islanders will return to action on Tuesday, April 8, when they play host to UTSA for a 6 p.m. contest at Chapman Field. Live stats and video will also be available on GoIslanders.com, while updates will also be provided on Twitter (@IslandersBSB).