ABILENE -- Texas A&M-Corpus Christi leftfielder Jordan Lee drove in three runs in his final two at-bats Friday night as the Islanders dealt the ACU Wildcats a heartbreaking 8-6 loss in 11 innings in the first game of a three-game Southland Conference baseball series at Crutcher Scott Field.
The loss drops the Wildcats to 16-26 overall and 5-11 in the Southland, while the Islanders improve to 26-21 and 15-7. The series will continue Saturday at 1 p.m.
ACU trailed 5-4 going to the bottom of the eighth inning, but managed to take the lead, thanks to a sacrifice fly and then two throwing errors by the Islanders on the same play.
Emil Litterer led off the inning with a double and then moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. Colton Hall then delivered a sacrifice fly that plated Litterer to make it a 5-5 game. Gunnar Buhner then singled with one out and went to third on a bloop single by Jordan Forrester.
Islanders' centerfielder Tyler Ware overthrew third base, allowing Forrester to move up to second, and that's when Buhner took off for the plate. As the ball bounced off the backstop, pitcher Kaleb Keith retrieved it and overthrew the catcher just as Buhner slid across the plate for the run that put ACU up 6-5.
The Wildcats then brought in normally reliable closer Kevin Sheets, who gave up a leadoff double and a walk before getting Zack Gibson to bounce into a double play. He then got ahead of Lee 0-2 in the count before Lee dribbled the third pitch he saw from Sheets up the middle, just under the diving attempt of shortstop Brandon Grudzielanek, plating Kyle Danford with the game-tying run.
ACU got its leadoff runner on base in the bottom of the ninth, but a pair of strikeouts preceded Heath Beasley getting thrown out trying to steal to end the inning.
Neither team had much of a chance to score in the 10th, but the Islanders got the runs they would need in the top of the 11th.
Danford reached on an error by Litterer to lead off the inning and went to second on a passed ball. After back-to-back walks by Sheets to Dominic Lopez and Gibson, Lee blooped a double down the left field line that just glanced off Forrester's glove to drive in Danford and pinch-runner Brett Burner to make it 8-6. Relievers Hunter Wakefield and Austin Lambright kept the Islanders from doing any further damage, but Corpus Christi went to the bottom of the 11th with a two-run lead.
Winning pitcher Jacob Dorris quickly disposed of Buhner and Forrester to lead off the 11th before giving up a single to Seth Spivey and hitting Beasley to give ACU the tying runs on base for Tyler Eager. The junior centerfielder reached base on an infield single that Burner at shortstop kept from getting into the outfield and driving in a run with a great diving stop.
That loaded the bases for Grudzielanek, the league's fifth-leading hitter and ACU's RBI leader. But Dorris got him swinging for the second time in the game to end the contest.