CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi baseball team will open up Southland Conference play this weekend, hosting a three-game series with Central Arkansas starting Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Chapman Field.
The Islanders have started the season 6-12 against nonconference foes, but have had a very tough schedule prior to league competition, taking on collegiate baseball powerhouses, such as TCU, Texas and Rice, as well as former Southland foes UTSA, Texas State and UT Arlington.
In their most recent outing, the Islanders took a 10-9 lead into the bottom of the eighth against No. 15 Rice by scoring four runs to comeback in the top half of the inning. However, the Owls were able to respond with three runs of their own in the frame to take back the lead and hold on for the victory.
The Bears (8-6) are coming off a 10-2 loss to Creighton in a midweek game where UCA had to use six different pitchers. However, the Bears were able to take two out of three at Memphis a week ago, including one win in a 17 inning game in the series opener, while their lone loss came in a 14 inning affair.
The Islanders will use the same starting lineup as they have the past two weekends, as Matt Danton (3-1) will get the start Friday night, followed by Trevor Belicek (0-3) and Devin Skapura (2-2) the following two nights.
Danton and Skapura feature two of the top three earned run averages on the pitching staff, with Danton's 3.18 ranking third, while Skapura's 2.19 leads the team.
Facing Danton on the mound in game one will be Bryce Biggerstaff who is 2-1 on the season with a 3.25 ERA. He has struck out a team high 23 batters in 27.2 innings pitched, which ties a club high.
Tied with him in that category is Connor Gilmore, who also has four starts this year, but more than a run lower ERA at 2.28. Gilmore has allowed just seven runs on 21 hits, but has been erratic at times, as he leads the Bears with 17 free passes. This will be something the Islanders will look to take advantage of, as they have coaxed 50 free passes out of opposing pitchers so far this season.
Rounding out the trio of righties UCA will throw this weekend will be Chris Caudle, who will be making just his third start of the year. However, in his first two appearances he has been a workhorse, going eight innings, while going 6.2 innings before giving up his first hit against Illinois State. He then tallied a 120-pitch complete game win against Memphis last weekend, giving up four runs in the win.
Offensively, the Bears feature three different hitters who have driven in at least 11 runs so far this season, as Tyler Langley (13) Chris Townsend (11) and Nate Ferrell (11) have all done so. However, none of these batters boast the best average on the team, as that designation goes to Doug Votolato who is hitting .328 this season with 12 walks to give him a .444 OBP.
After picking up four hits out of the leadoff spot Wednesday, Brandon Tierney has seen his average rise up to .346 on a team that is only hitting .257 so far this season.
First pitch for Saturday's game is set for 4 p.m., while it will be an early game on Sunday, as it will get underway at 11 a.m.
Tickets are just $5 for adult general admission, while discounted tickets of $3 for children 16 & under, seniors 60 & over, Islanders Faculty/Staff and Military ID can be purchased as well.
To keep up with the Islanders this weekend, 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 on GoIslanders.com or follow along with live stats on there as well.