ABILENE, Texas – The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi baseball team used a four-run sixth inning to vault past Abilene Christian en route to an 8-4 victory on Saturday. The Islanders (27-21, 16-7 Southland) got three hits each from Brandon Tierney and Tyler Ware to remain in first place in the conference standings.
Kyle Danford and Cody Stephens each went 2-for-5 with a pair of RBIs, as Ware drove in a pair of runs himself. Tierney and Stephens each scored twice for A&M-Corpus Christi in the win. Emil Litterer and Brandon Grudzielanek each carded two hits in the loss for ACU (16-27, 5-12).
Trevor Belicek allowed seven hits in six innings of work, but walked just one in improving to 4-5 on the season. Kevin Landgrebe was stellar out of the bullpen, allowing just one hit in three shutout innings to post the save. Brady Rodriguez was carded with the loss after surrendering seven runs, five earned, in 5 2/3 innings of work for the Wildcats.
The Islanders got out to a hot start, plating three runs in the top of the first inning off Rodriguez. Danford got things started with a leadoff single, and two batters later, Tierney sent him over to third with a double to left center, putting a pair of runners in scoring position with one away. Stephens cashed in on that, sending a single to center, plating both runners for a 2-0 lead. Ware followed by ripping a double to right field, sending Stephens around to score, but was set down trying to stretch it to a triple, as the Islanders held a 3-0 lead through the first half inning.
That was short-lived, though, as ACU came right back with three of their own in the bottom of the first. Seth Spivey led off with a single, and Russell Crippen followed by launching a two-run homer over the left-field wall to make it 3-2. A sac fly later in the inning knotted the game up at three.
Both pitchers settled down after that, though the Wildcats were able to manufacture a run in the third to take a 4-3 lead. Brandon Grudzielanek got aboard with a bunt single, moved to second on a wild pitch, and came in to score on an Emil Litterer RBI single that put the home squad in the lead for the first time.
Rodriguez responded by putting zeroes on the board in the fourth and fifth, but the Islanders came back with a crooked number in the sixth to regain the lead. Tierney led off with a single, and two batters later, Ware singled to right to put runners on first and second with one away. An error by the third baseman loaded the bags for Russell Vaughan, and the senior came through in the clutch once more, ripping a two-run single to center to make it 5-4 in favor of A&M-Corpus Christi. Later in the inning, Danford came up with the bags full and two away, and the righty smacked a single to left, plating Vaughan and Zacarias Hardy to push the advantage to 7-4.
Belicek finished off ACU in the sixth, putting up a shut-down inning in the clutch to maintain the advantage, and then handed it over to Landgrebe, who was dominate out of the bullpen. The righty set the Wildcats down in order in the seventh, then worked around an error and a single in the eighth to keep the score 7-4 heading to the ninth.
In the top of the ninth, the Islanders added an insurance run with a two-out rally. Stephens sent a liner out to right field that got by a diving Colton Hall for a triple, and Ware followed with a liner to deep right of his own, marking his sixth triple of the year for an RBI and an 8-4 lead. Landgrebe got a double play for the first two outs of the ninth and finished off ACU with a strikeout to record his first save in an Islanders uniform.
The two teams will finish off their three-game set on Sunday at Crutcher Scott Field, as first pitch is slated for 1 p.m. The Islanders will send righty Dalton D'Spain (1-0, 3.00 ERA) to the mound as they look for their second road sweep in the last three weekends. Live audio will be available on GoIslanders.com, while ACUSports.com will have live stats and video. Updates will also be provided on Twitter (@IslandersBSB).