HOUSTON — After losing its first two games of the Shriners College Classic by a combined 21 runs, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi was 90 feet away from tying No. 10 Texas Tech in the ninth inning.
With the bases loaded, two outs and TAMUCC down by one run, Islander leadoff man Luke Marbach sent a sinking line drive up the middle. If it got through the infield, the game-tying and go-ahead runs would have scored, but Texas Tech shortstop Cal Conley laid out and made a diving grab, preserving a 4-3 Red Raider victory.
The TTU win marked a sweep of the Shriners College Classic at Minute Maid Park and the team’s eighth straight victory.
For six innings, TAMUCC starting pitcher Hayden Thomas made a fierce group of Texas Tech hitters look like little leaguers — but he could only keep the Red Raiders down for so long.
With the game tied 1-1 in the seventh, Thomas loaded the bases and gave way to reliever JT Moeller, who served up a bases-clearing, go-ahead double to Jace Jung.
TTU’s offense managed just one run through those first six innings, and the scoring runner reached base on a dropped fly ball. Thomas finished the day with 11 strikeouts, punching out six of TTU’s hitters at least once.
Texas Tech’s starting pitcher Mason Montgomery was just as effective. TAMU-CC’s Itchy Burts lifted a solo home run to right field in the second inning, but that was the only blemish on Montgomery’s outstanding day. The lefty sophomore dealt six innings of three-hit ball and struck out nine Islander hitters.
He got help in the field from Conley, who snagged a line drive and made a jump-throw back to first base to double off a baserunner in the fifth inning.
Super-senior Connor Queen allowed the first two batters of the eighth inning to reach base, but worked out of the jam without giving up a run.
Brendan Girton got into trouble to start the ninth inning, and Sublette came in with the bases loaded and Texas Tech up 4-2. He induced a ground-out, walked the next hitter and got the final out of the game on the diving catch by Conley.
The Islanders made it just about as hard as it could’ve been, but Conley’s incredible defense saved the day for Texas Tech.