Corpus Christi (Kiii Sports) - Playing at Whataburger Field on the final day of the regular season, the Texas A&M-Kingsville baseball team bounced back from a disappointing doubleheader on Friday to take two games from Lone Star Conference rival Incarnate Word on Saturday, 8-5 and 6-4.
The Javelina (31-14, 18-10) bats came alive with 25 hits in the twin bill and kept the team's slim regular season conference championship hopes alive. The Javelinas would need Angelo State to lose the final two games of their series with Abilene Christian to claim the title. The Javs secured at least a second place regular season finish.
In the opener, the Javelinas loaded the bases in the first inning and put a runner on third base in the next two without scoring. The Cardinals (22-19, 16-11) scored a run in the top of the third when Adam Pena singled home Thomas Rinn who had doubled.
The Javs broke the game open in the middle innings. They scored three unearned runs in the fourth with Taylor Taska (Kingwood/Kingwood HS) coming through with a go-ahead two-out, two-run single. In the fifth inning, James Black (Spring/Klein Collins HS) brought in two runs with a double and Mario Siller (San Antonio/MacArthur HS) drove in another with a single.
The Cards scored two in the sixth on a two-run homer by Greg Barbaro, but the Javelinas answered with two in the bottom half of the inning. UIW threatened in the top of the seventh scoring twice, but Cole Foster (Katy/Taylor HS) was able to come on in relief and retire the final two batters for his first career save.
Taska, Trent Wagner (Victoria/Memorial HS) and James Wallace (Corpus Christi/Tuloso-Midway HS) each had three hits for the Javelinas. Dallas Ponder (Flatonia/Flatonia HS) improved to 4-1 on the season with 5.2 innings of work. He allowed five hits, three runs and five walks while striking out five.
Marc Gomez was tagged with his first loss of the season for the Cards. He went 5.0 innings allowing 12 hits, three earned runs and three walks while striking out four.
In the second game, the Cards scored an unearned run in the top of the first inning and the Javelinas followed with two unearned runs in the bottom half of the frame. Jake Mendiola (Kingsville/Richland Northeast HS) drove in both runs with a two-out single.
In the third inning, the Cardinals tied it up. After two outs, Derrick walls doubled and scored on Pena's base hit two batters later.
The tie did not last long as the Javelinas answered in the bottom of the third inning. Ben Villafuerte (Corpus Christi/Carroll HS) led off the inning with a double and scored on Cameron Dullnig's (San Antonio/Clark HS) sacrifice fly. The team followed with four consecutive singles to score two more runs and take a 5-2 lead.
The score remained that way until the fifth inning when Walls started another two-out rally for the Cardinals. He singled and scored on Taylor Rinn's double and then Rinn came home on a double by Pena, his third RBI of the game.
Javelina starting pitcher Zach Pettiford (San Diego, CA/Henry HS) settled down in the sixth inning with a perfect frame. He was pulled in the seventh inning and finished with 6.1 innings allowing six hits, three earned runs and two walks while striking out five. Jeremy Flores (Victoria/Memorial HS) and Denver Diefenbach (Victoria/St. Joseph's HS) each pitched a third of an inning to finish out the seventh.
Javelina head coach Jason Gonzales called upon his closer Dullnig at the start of the eighth inning to get the final six outs. He did just that retiring all six batters he faced to pick up his school-record 10th save of the season. Black added a solo home run in the eighth inning to give the team an insurance run.
Black led the offense with three hits, two RBI's and a run scored. Villafuerte had two hits and scored twice while Mendiola had two hits and drove in two runs. Pettiford improved to 5-1 on the year.
Jorge Guarneros took the loss for the Cardinals. He went 6.1 innings allowing nine hits, three earned runs and four walks while striking out three. Walls, Rinn and Pena accounted for all seven hits and four runs that the offense produced.
Dullnig had his 21-game hitting streak snapped in the second game by going 0-for-2 with a run scored, a walk and a sacrifice fly.
The Javelinas will now wait to see who they will meet in the conference tournament that begins next Saturday in San Angelo.
--Texas A&M-Kingsville Sports Information