CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi baseball team kept its place atop the Southland Conference and tallied its sixth consecutive victory by notching a 7-2 win in its series opener against Oral Roberts.
The Islanders (24-19, 13-6 Southland) used a four-run fifth inning, as well as a dominant performance on the mound from Matt Danton, to secure the victory against the Golden Eagles (22-19, 9-10).
Danton, who came into the game fourth in the conference with 68.2 innings pitched this season, showed off his ability to get deep into the game, as he threw all nine innings to pick up his first complete game this year. The junior was very efficient, tallying five 1-2-3 innings, allowing eight hits and two runs on the night.
Leading the way at the plate for the Islanders was Tyler Ware, who tallied his fourth three-hit game of the season, going 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI. Cody Stephens had the only multi-RBI night at the plate, as he drove two runs into score on a 2-for-5 performance, touching the plate twice as well.
A&M – Corpus Christi continued its trend of winning games when scoring in the first inning, as after Brandon Tierney hit into a double play for the first two outs in the bottom of the first, Ware and Frankie Salas recorded a double and a single, respectively, to put the home up 1-0. With the eventual win, the Islanders move to 10-2 when scoring in the initial inning.
After working around a leadoff double in the top of the first, Danton settled into a groove on the mound, facing just two over the minimum from the second through the sixth, even stringing together a streak of 11 consecutive Golden Eagle hitters set down.
During that streak, Danton saw his offense provide him more than enough run support. It started in the fourth, as Stephens reached on a one-out single and then moved up to second on a fielder's choice. The Islanders were able to pick up another two-out single, as Danford singled into left field to bring Stephens in to score to make it a 2-0 game.
However, the deciding inning came in the fifth, as the Islanders strung together hit after hit to hang a four spot on the board. Once again, A&M – Corpus Christi did all of its damage with two away.
This time the Islanders did have runners on second and third to start the two-out rally when Stephens came through with a knocks to right field to plate both runners on a two-run single. That chased ORU starter Guillermo Trujillo from the game, but his reliever, Kyler Stout had an even harder time getting out of the inning.
Stout came on and gave up back-to-back singles and a balk, followed by another single and a hit by pitch to allow the Islanders to make it a 6-0 game before finally picking up the final out of the fifth.
The Golden Eagles were able to finally get to Danton in the sixth, though, as they opened up the inning with three consecutive hits. Danton settled back in to pick up a double play, but it also resulted in the first ORU run of the game. He was unable to strand the runner at third though, as Brandon Healy dribbled one just out of the reach of a diving Stephens to cut it to a 6-2 game heading into the seventh-inning stretch.
However, this would be as close as ORU would get, as the Islanders added another run in the eighth, again with two outs, on a Ware single, while Danton proceeded to set down the final six batters he faced to pick up a crucial victory in the series opener.
On Saturday, first pitch is once again set for 7 p.m. with the only scheduled left-hander for either team, Trevor Belicek (2-5, 4.52) throwing against Gavin Glanz (2-3, 2.97). Belicek is coming off one of the best outings of the year, as he set down the first 17 batters he faced in game two against Northwestern State, eventually picking up the series-clinching win against the Demons.
To keep up with the action, be sure to follow the team on Twitter and Instagram (@IslandersBSB) and like them on Facebook (Islanders Baseball). Fans can also watch the game live or follow along with live stats on GoIslanders.com.