CORPUS CHRISTI (Islanders Athletics) - The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi baseball team had its struggles offensively, while the Valparaiso pitching staff had a strong day to pick up a doubleheader sweep of the Islanders on Saturday at Chapman Field.
The two teams played a seven-inning first game before coming back to go a full nine in game two of the doubleheader. The third game of the series was originally scheduled for Sunday, but was bumped up to today with the threat of inclement weather heading into Corpus Christi on Saturday night into Sunday.
The Islanders (6-11) were only able to push across one run the entire day, as the two starters for the Crusaders (7-7) combined to go 15 innings, allowing just nine hits and the lone run to secure victories of 4-0 and 5-1.
In both games combined only three Islanders were able to tab more than one hit, as Josh Garza, Kyle Danford and Tyler Ware all had two knocks on the day.
On the other side, Valpo had three batters pick up multi-RBI days, as Jake Hanson had a pair in game one, while both Michael Moorman and Andrew Bynum each had a pair in the finale.
In game one Valparaiso bumped up lefty Dalton Lundeen, who was originally scheduled to pitch Sunday, to match up with the Islanders' southpaw Trevor Belicek. Lundeen outdueled Belicek, as he threw a complete seven-inning shutout in the shortened game one, giving up just four hits.
Both started the game with back-to-back scoreless innings, before Valpo plated an unearned run, as after an error on a bunt put runners at first and third, a safety squeeze bunt made it 1-0 after the top of the third.
The Islanders looked poised to at least tie if not take the lead in the bottom of the third with runners on second and third and just one out. However, Jordan Lee fouled out to third base for the second out of the inning.
It was Kyle Danford who stepped to the plate, as the skies opened up and a torrential downpour caused a slight rain delay. The tarp was not brought out, as the rain came and went, but resuming with a 3-2 count, Danford had to go after the first pitch and rolled it over to the second baseman to end the threat.
Karch Kowalczyk then stepped up to the plate to begin the fourth, and crushed the first pitch of the at-bat over the left field wall, which opened up the lead to two, as it was more than enough for Lundeen who set down 12 of the last 14 batters to give his team the win.
The negative momentum carried over to the Islanders in the second game, as they opened up the top of the first with three errors, allowing two unearned runs to come in to score without a hit.
It was more of the same in the third, as A&M – Corpus Christi's starter Devin Skapura surrendered two walks and one hit, while another error allowed Valpo to bring three more runs in to score to make it 5-0.
Meanwhile, the Crusaders' starter, Mario Losi picked up right where Lundeen left off, as he set down 15 of the first 16 batters who stepped up to the plate for the Islanders.
It wasn't until the sixth that the Islanders were able to sustain some pressure on Losi. It was two pinch-hitters who got things going, as Dawson Yates walked, followed by a one-out single by Jacob Hubert. However, the third straight pinch-hitter didn't have the same success, as Brett Burner grounded into an inning-ending double play.
After a scoreless seventh to give the Valparaiso pitching staff 14 consecutive innings without allowing an Islander run, A&M – Corpus Christi was finally able to push its first run across. With Russell Vaughan sitting at third, Zack Hardy ripped one that glanced off the third baseman's glove to shrink the lead to four. That was as close as the Islanders would get, though, not scoring in the bottom of the ninth to drop both games of the doubleheader.
A&M – Corpus Christi will be back in action on Wednesday, as it travels back up to Houston for the second consecutive week, this time taking on Rice at 6:30 p.m. Fans can listen to the game live on GoIslanders.com.
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