CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi baseball team will take on Southland Conference newcomer Abilene Christian for the first time in school history, as it travels to Abilene, Texas, for a three-game set with the Wildcats starting Friday at 6 p.m.
The Islanders (25-21, 14-7 Southland) come in with the second best record in league play, and have won their last three conference series. The team is sitting just a game back of first place Nicholls with Sam Houston State, Northwestern State and McNeese State all a game back of the Islanders.
ACU (16-25, 5-10) comes into the game, dropping its last conference series, as the Wildcats lost two out of the three at Houston Baptist. However, since ACU is still in its transition period, the Wildcats are ineligible for postseason play.
Brandon Tierney has paced the Islanders inside the batter's box, as he has reached safely in his last 17 games, and now owns a team high .359 batting average to go along with an on-base percentage of .454. He has averaged an RBI a game during this current stretch of games, with 17 runs driven in.
Tierney is also tied for first on the team in RBIs, as Cody Stephens is locked up with him at 28. Tyler Ware is also tied up with the two seniors after picking up an RBI at Baylor, and is knotted up with Tierney for the team lead with three home runs.
In the last weekend series against Oral Roberts, Ware hit the eventual game-winning, two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth, right after the Golden Eagles had taken a 1-0 advantage in the top half of the inning.
However, the Wildcats boast some good bats of their own, especially in the form of Seth Spivey, who is hitting .367 at the dish this season. This mark leads the Southland. Spivey also has plenty of pop, as his .551 slugging percentage ranks him third in the conference, leading the team in doubles (11), triples (3) and home runs (4).
The senior does not hold the team's top RBI total though, as he currently sits one behind teammate Brandon Grudzielanek, as he has driven in 30 Wildcats this season despite having just one extra base hit this year.
Grudzielanek has tallied plenty of singles though, as he has 52 this season to give him a batting average of .353, which is the fifth highest in the league.
Matt Danton will faceoff against the Wildcats in the series opener and look to continue to be a workhorse on the mound, as he has gone deep in nearly every game in each of his starts, failing to throw six innings just once in his 11 starts. He has thrown 77 2/3 innings this year, which is the second most in the Southland this season.
His last outing was his most impressive, as he went the distance for the first time in his career to pick up his sixth victory of the season. Danton saw Oral Roberts scatter eight hits and plate just two runs over nine innings, while striking out five.
Danton will throw against lefty Ty Walker (0-0, 9.60 ERA), who will make just his second start of the season, with his 10 other appearances coming out of the bullpen.
Saturday's afternoon game will feature a pair of southpaw's, as Trevor Belicek (3-5, 4.12) will faceoff at 2 p.m. against Brady Rodriguez (1-3, 5.56), who will be making his fourth start. Belicek has been solid over his last three starts, picking up three wins, while giving up six runs over his last 20 1/3 innings of work.
The series finale will feature ACU's most experienced starter, as Garrett deMeyere (4-5, 4.21) will make his 13th start of the year, facing Dalton D'Spain (1-0, 3.00), who will earn the nod for the sixth time this year, and will get his first start in a weekend series.
D'Spain does lead the team in ERA, while deMeyere had his best outing of his career in his second to last outing, as he threw the first Wildcat complete game shutout in more than nine years to earn Southland Conference Pitcher of the Week honors.
Live audio will be available on GoIslanders.com, with live stats and video on ACUsports.com.
To keep up with the action, fans can also follow the team on Twitter and Instagram (@IslandersBSB) and like it on Facebook (Islanders Baseball).