Texas A&M-Corpus Christi used two, three-run home runs then added three insurance runs late to upset first place McNeese by a score of 10-4 on Saturday in the second game of a three-game Southland Conference baseball series.
The loss was the first league home loss of the season for the Cowboys, who fall to 31-14 overall and 20-6 in league play. McNeese, now 20-2 at home on the season, keeps a two-game lead over Sam Houston State in the loss column in the conference standings after the Bearkats dropped a 3-2 decision to Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday.
The Cowboys appeared well on their way to a big win on Saturday after building a 4-0 lead through two innings. But a three-run home run by AMCC right fielder Dalton Start, his second homer of the series, cut the margin to 4-3 after the third inning.
McNeese left a run on the field in the fourth when Joe Provenzano, who finished the day 3-for-4 at the plate, led off the bottom of the third with a single but was thrown out at second base when Shane Selman followed by hitting into a double play.
Austin Nelson followed that with a double to right field after Stark dropped a fly ball due to the sun interfering with his sight. That double would have scored Provenzano.
Instead, McNeese kept its one-run lead and had to work out of a major jam in the fourth inning when the Islanders (16-31-, 8-15) put runners at second and third with no outs.
Cowboys third baseman Matt Gallier posted two great defensive plays, a throw out at home then a grab on a screaming line drive, to help McNeese escape the inning without allowing any runs.
Meanwhile, Corpus relief pitcher Devin Skapura was cruising after he entered with two on and no outs in the second inning and shut down the Cowboys bats, holding them scoreless and just five hits in six innings of work.
The Cowboys were never able to get a runner past second base on him, and just two runners past first base as Skapura improved to 2-4 in picking up the win in relief work.
McNeese starting pitcher Rhett Deaton (7-2) took the loss after he allowed five runs on eight hits in six innings of action.
The Islanders took the lead at 6-4 in the seventh inning when Dawson Yates hit a three run home run after Lukas Hermanson walked and Brian Deaver singled to lead off the inning.
Corpus added another run four batters later on a RBI double by Brett Burner to make it 7-4.
McNeese got lead-off batters on base in both the sixth and seventh innings, but those runners were cut short trying to get to second, one on an attempted steal and another on a grounder to third base.
The Islanders added three more runs in the ninth inning on back-to-back RBI singles by Burner and Jackson Owens, then a sacrifice fly from Luke Marbach to make it a 10-4 score.
AMCC's Chris Cooper pitched the final two innings to collect his fifth save of the season.
McNeese finished with nine hits in the game, led by Provenzano's three and two from Will Fox.
The Cowboys took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Ricky Ramirez, Jr. walked with two outs, then later scored on a Provenzano single up the middle.
The lead went to 4-0 the next inning after Nelson led off the frame with a walk then scored on a Fox double to make it 2-0 as Fox advanced to third on a throw to home plate in an attempt to get Nelson. Fox then scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-0. Jacob Stracner followed with a walk and after advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt by Robbie Podorsky, scored on a Ramirez single to left field to put McNeese up 4-0.
The Cowboys will go for the series win on Sunday with the first pitch slated for 1 p.m. Bryan King is expected to get the start on the mound.