After clinching the first half championship Saturday night with an 8-3 win, the Corpus Christi Beach Dawgs had their work cut out for them, going 12 innings Sunday against the Texarkana Gunslingers to complete the home sweep, 8-7.
Beach Dawg manager Trey Salinas decided to go for a different look, using a bunch of bench players for Sunday's game and giving the starters a rest.
Several newcomers played their first game for the Beach Dawgs, but none stood out like Chuck Desmarais. The recent college graduate from Tarleton State went 4-for-6 with 4 RBIs, including the game-winning walk-off single.
"I can't stop smiling, and I won't stop smiling after the game," Desmarais said. "I'm feeling on top of the world right now. This is my first game and I just wanted to produce for my team and I didn't want to let anybody down."
Salinas also praised the rookie.
"After his third hit, he said that was the hit of his life," Salinas said. "(I've got) nothing but good things to say about him. He came in here ready to play and showed no fear."
Up 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth, Corpus Christi starting pitcher Alex Dutka had the bases loaded with one out for Texarkana outfielder Bryan Burke.
Burke chopped the ball toward Dutka who tried to grab the ball in his right hand. The force of the ball caused the webbing between two fingers on his pitching hand to split open.
Dutka was taken out of the game as Gunslinger Bryan Burke brought in outfielder Mike Olsen from third, cutting the Beach Dawgs' lead, 2-1.
"I'm out for 10 days," Dutka said. "It's good because we have the All-Star break coming up, so I should be OK and ready for my next outing."
Travis Parker took over on the mound and was able to get the next two batters out on a fly ball to centerfield and a groundout to second.
In the top of the seventh inning, Corpus Christi was up 3-1 with one out against Texarkana. Corpus Christi reliever Rob Alazuarde loaded the bases after walking three batters.
Salinas saw enough as he brought newcomer Brandon Dunn to the mound.
Facing Gunslinger catcher Nick Enciso, Dunn's first pitch got away from Joey Jacobo as Gene Crimoli scored.
Facing a 2-0 count, Enciso hit a two-RBI single that brought in Frank Quintana and Olsen.
The Beach Dawgs trailed Texarkana 4-3.
In the bottom of the eighth, the score was still 4-3.
Gunslinger pitcher Billy Gleason was on the mound, but the infield gave up back-to-back errors, putting runners at first and second with nobody out.
After another Beach Dawg newcomer, Salvatore Hall, executed a sacrifice bunt to move runners to second and third, Luis Blanco was at the plate and was intentionally walked.
Salinas brought in the speedy Earl White to pinch run.
With White at first, outfielder Brandon McCabe and outfielder Pedro Catala at third, Desmarais was up to bat. On an 0-1 count, Desmarais knocked one to the gap in right center field as Catala, McCabe and White scored as Corpus Christi regained the lead, 6-4.
In the top of the ninth, saves leader Brandon Pello tried to close the game for the Beach Dawgs.
After walking his first batter and allowing a single from the next, Pello was struggling.
After a sacrifice bunt advanced runners to second and third, Pello faced Gunslinger Anthony Edwards.
On his first pitch, Edwards knocked a two-RBI single to tie the game up, 6-6.
Marc Acierno took over for Pello in the top of the 10th.
Acierno struck out five batters in three innings of play to get the win, but not without some drama in the top of the 12th.
With runners at first and second and two outs, Texarkana pinch hitter Jamal Jackson hit a first-pitch, RBI-single to left field as the Gunslingers took the lead, 7-6.
The Beach Dawgs came back to win with an RBI single from Josh Morgan and Desmarais's walk-off single in the bottom of the 12th.
Corpus Christi finished the first half of the season with a 20-14 record, which includes an impressive 15-3 record at Fairgrounds Field.