Baseball Fights Off Elimination, Knocks Off Nicholls 3-2
CONWAY, Ark. – Trevor Belicek threw 7 1/3 strong innings and Jacob Dorris slammed the door as the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi baseball team delivered a 3-2 victory over Nicholls on Thursday at Bear Stadium. The Colonels (32-26) were eliminated from the 2014 Southland Conference Tournament with the loss.
The Islanders (31-26) will now attempt to win their second elimination game Friday, as they will take on McNeese State at noon following the Cowboys' loss against Central Arkansas on Thursday night.
Belicek gave up two runs on six hits to earn his fifth win of the year, while Dorris finished the game off in emphatic style, as he recorded the four-out save — his eighth of the year — by striking out each batter he faced.
Grant Borne tallied the loss for the Colonels by allowing three runs, two earned, on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings pitched. The Islanders are now 8-2 against left handed starters this season.
A nice defensive play started the game, as a slow roller to Cody Stephens was gloved and flipped directly from the leather to first baseman Tyler Ware to record the first out. However, Belicek left one over the plate to the next Colonel, as Leo Vargas ripped the pitch over the left-field wall for a solo homerun for the first run of the day.
The Islanders were able to respond in the bottom half of the inning though, with Russell Vaughan and Brandon Tierney picking up a single and double, respectively, following the first out. Danford was able to notch the tying RBI, sending one through the right side to bring Vaughan in to score to make it 1-1.
A fielder's choice where David Zorn decided to come home, but was unable to record an out with Tierney able to scamper back to third, loaded the bases for the Islanders. Borne was able to get out of the jam, though, as a grounder to third was played by Tyler Duplantis with him touching the bag and then throwing it on to first for an inning-ending double play.
Both pitchers then settled in over the next two innings, both posting zeros in the second and third to keep the game tied at one. Nicholls jumped back on top in the fourth, though, despite Belicek striking out the side. The damage came with two away, as a walk put runners on first and second was followed by a single up the middle by Justin Smith to put the Colonels up 2-1.
The Islanders came right back again in the bottom half of the fourth to tie the game up at two. Lee and Zach Hardy got things started with consecutive singles, followed by a throw that pulled the third baseman off the bag on a bunt to load the bases with still no outs.
Jacob Hubert followed by becoming the second Islander to hit into a double play with the bases loaded, but the runner did come in from third to make it 2-2 after the first four innings.
After Belicek came back out and set down the Colonels in order, he saw his offense put another single run up on the board to give the Islanders their first lead of the game.
The bottom of the fifth was sparked by a pair of miscues by Nicholls, as an error and catcher's interference put runners on first and second with one away. The bats for the Islanders followed, as back-to-back singles by Danford and Lee brought in the third run of the game for A&M – Corpus Christi. Borne was able to strand the bases loaded though, as a fly out and strikeout brought the fifth inning to a close.
The Islanders did chase Borne in the bottom of the sixth after he hit Vaughan to put runners on first and second, but his reliever, Marc Frazier was able to come in and strikeout Tierney to end the threat. Frazier went on to throw the seventh and eighth as well not allowing a hit.
Belicek found himself having to escape a jam in the top of the seventh, as a hit batter and single with two away loaded the bases. This prompted a long discussion on the mound, but head coach Scott Malone decided to stay with his southpaw. The decision paid off, as Belicek stranded the bases full by getting a fly out.
The Colonels made some more noise the following inning, as a two hit batters with a sac bunt in between those put runners on first and second and chased Belicek from the game. Kevin Landgrebe came on and got the only batter he faced on a fielder's choice, before sidewinder Dorris punched out Smith to strand runners on the corners.
Dorris came back out in the ninth and continued to be filthy on the mound, as he struck out the side to record Ks on every batter he faced to secure the win for the Islanders.
There will be free online video broadcasts of all games throughout the tournament on the Southland Digital Network, which includes Southland.org and the league's free mobile and tablet apps. The championship game will be carried live on ESPN3.
Be sure to follow A&M – Corpus Christi on Twitter (@IslandersBSB) to find out who the Islanders will be matched up against tomorrow.