CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi baseball team used back-to-back three run innings to fuel a 6-3 victory in its Southland Conference opener against Central Arkansas on Friday at Chapman Field.
Leading the way at the dish for the Islanders (7-12, 1-0) was freshman Dawson Yates who went 1-of-2 from the plate with two RBIs. However, he was able to put a ball in play with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth, which was dropped by left fielder Wesley Hoover to put A&M – Corpus Christi ahead for good.
Matt Danton was also very solid on the mound for the Islanders, as he had a workhorse performance, going seven innings with 124 pitches while giving up just three runs on seven hits.
Picking up the loss for the Bears (8-7, 0-1) was Bryce Biggerstaff, who saw all six runs come across in the five innings he was on the bump, but with that error, only three were earned.
UCA did feature three different members of its lineup tally multi-hit games, but they were scattered apart to only result in three runs.
However, the first two runs came in a hurry, as leadoff man Tyler Langley ripped one into the left field gap and scampered all the way to third for a triple. Doug Votolato then stepped in and promptly drove him in to give UCA an incredibly quick 1-0 lead.
After Votolato stole second base, he then moved all the way in to score after back-to-back one out singles to make it a 2-0 lead for the Bears.
The Islanders were finally able to get out of the inning on a nice play by Brandon Tierney, as he gloved a sharply hit liner and stepped on third for an inning-ended unassisted double play.
Biggerstaff was strong his first time through the lineup, only allowing one hit in the first three innings. Danton settled in after the first though, setting down seven consecutive hitters to match Biggerstaff and send it to the bottom of the fourth with UCA still up 2-0.
Back-to-back singles in the bottom half got the Islanders rolling, as a groundout by Jacob Hubert moved the them both into scoring position. This when Yates struck for his first two RBIs, as the lefty shot one the opposite way for a single that tied the game at two.
After a groundout moved Yates up to second base, Josh Garza came through with a huge single up the middle to bring Yates all the way around to score, giving the home team its first lead of the night, up 3-2 after four.
UCA responded in a hurry, as Matt Anderson singled into left to start the inning, and eventually found himself at third with UCA runners on second and first behind him. With nowhere to put them, Danton missed four times to Chris Townsend to score Anderson and tie the game back up at three.
The momentum shifted back to the Islanders, as they were able to spark a huge two-out rally with two singles and a walk before Yates sent one to the right fielder, as he commited the error to clear the bases, put the Islanders back up 6-3 through five.
After Tierney helped Danton out with a beautiful diving catch in foul territory to strand two runners on and keep the three-run lead for the Islanders in the top of the fifth, Scott Zimmerle came on to relieve Biggerstaff. He did all he could do to keep his team in it, as he did not allow a hit in his three innings of work.
However, the Islanders bullpen got the job done to secure the win. Dalton D'Spain struggled as the first reliever, giving up back-to-back singles to start the eighth, but Jacob Dorris came on to pick him up by setting down the next three UCA hitters in order.
Dorris trotted back out for the top of the ninth, giving up just one hit and no runs on two strikeouts in the inning to pick up his second save of the year.
The Islanders and Bears will be back on the diamond Saturday for game two of the series. First pitch for that one is set for 4 p.m. tomorrow at Chapman Field with Trevor Belicek set to face Connor Gilmore.
To keep up with all 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 on GoIslanders.com or follow along with live stats on there as well.