HOUSTON – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi Baseball team was clinging to a one-run lead heading to the ninth, but a five-run effort, capped off by Jonathan Gonzales' second home run of the night, put the game out of reach for a 9-3 final over Houston on Saturday night. The rubber match of the series is set for a 1 p.m. first pitch with Adam Hoelscher starting on the mound for the visitors.
The Islanders (9-6) got a good start from Trevor Belicek (2-0) on the mound, with the sophomore going into the sixth inning while giving up just one run on six hits while walking two and striking out three. Matt Danton and Franco Pace held the Cougars at bay until the bottom of the eighth, and Jacob Dorris came on to finish it off with 1.1 scoreless inning for his third save of the year.
The story of the night was Gonzales, who came in without a home run on the season but hit two mammoth shots over the left field fence in his breakout game of 2013. He ended the night with two hits and four RBI to pace the team. Jordan Lee, Cody Stephens, Eric Weiss and Zach Taylor each had two hits each, while Taylor added two RBI and Brad Porras, Weiss and Russell Vaughan had one RBI apiece.
The Islanders started things off early plating two runs in the top of the first to take an early lead. Lee led off the inning with a single to center field, moved to second on a single by Stephens and moved to third as a walk to Eric Weiss loaded the bases. Vaughan drew a walk to plate Lee and make it 1-0, and Taylor followed with a single up the middle to score Stephens for the 2-0 advantage.
Houston cut into the lead with a single run in the bottom of the second, scoring a run on a double play to make it 2-1.
Weiss started the sixth inning off with a double down the left field line, and he came around to score on another Taylor RBI single through the left side for a 3-1 lead.
Gonzales added to the lead in the top of the eighth, belting a 3-2 pitch over the trees in left field for a massive solo home run and a 4-1 Islanders lead.
Things tightened up in the bottom of the eighth, as a pair of two-out singles came around to score on a triple that was a ground ball that bounced just over the head of Gonzales at first base and made its way to the right field corner as both runners scored to make it 4-3. With a runner on third base, head coach Scott Malone made the call to his closer, with Dorris striking out the final batter of the inning to preserve the slim margin.
With their backs against the wall and the momentum seemingly gone, the Islanders responded with five runs to put the game away in the top half of the ninth. Stafford Brantley started the rally with a lead off double down the left field line, and he moved to third on an attempted sacrifice bunt by Kyle Danford that turned into a single to put runners on first and third. After a stolen base by Danford put runners on second and third with one out, the Cougars intentionally walked Stephens to load the bases and setup the double play.
Things did not work as planned for UH, as an RBI groundout by Porras made it 5-3, a single to the shortstop by Weiss plated another run for a 6-3 advantage with two runners on, and another towering shot by Gonzales, this time to the right of the 375 sign in left center power alley for a three-run home run that made it a 9-3 lead for the Islanders.
Dorris picked up a pair of strikeouts in the bottom of the ninth to earn his third save of the year.
The finale of the series is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start at Cougar Field on Sunday. Adam Hoelscher will get the start for the Islanders as they try to get the series win over UH.
Live stats, audio and video will be available by visiting www.UHCougars.com.
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