SKYHAWKS HOLD OFF LATE ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF RALLY TO CLAIM THIRD STRAIGHT WIN
February 24, 2017
UNION CITY, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team staved off a late Arkansas-Pine Bluff rally to take down the Golden Lions 10-8 on Friday afternoon.
The Skyhawks entered the top of ninth inning on top 10-5, but a late two-out, three-run double by UAPB right fielder Jerimiah Figueroa tightened the gap. Senior reliever Alex Evans forced a soft grounder to third baseman Ryan Helgren on the following hitter to seal the third straight victory for UT Martin (3-1).
“It’s always good to start off on Friday with a win,” said head coach Rick Robinson. “I thought we did some really good things offensively as far as putting the baseball in play and getting some key hits after they made mistakes. What we have to realize is that eight of our runs that we scored were unearned and came off those mistakes. We just have to do a little bit better job of adding on when we get those opportunities and score that one extra run that could potentially put the game away.”
Arkansas-Pine Bluff used a pair of singles and a throwing error from UT Martin starting pitcher Dom Bazzani to get take an early 2-0 lead in the first inning. The Skyhawks responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the first when red-hot Tyler Albright tripled to deep center and was brought home two batters later by a Tanner Wessling single.
The score remained 2-1 until a two-run line drive home run off the bat of Aderly Perez gave the Golden Lions a 4-1 lead in the top of the third. Again the gritty Skyhawks bounced back and tallied four runs in the bottom half of the inning to take the 5-4 lead. Josh Hauser singled to lead off the inning while walks from Albright and Wessling loaded the bases. The Skyhawks capitalized on two separate UAPB throwing errors on a ground ball from Dan Kerwin to plate three runs and tie the game 4-4. Freshman Anthony Adduci’s sacrifice fly scored Kerwin and pushed UT Martin in front for the first time on the very next play.
Freshman Robert Worley led off the fourth with a single into right to kick start another big inning. After Hauser reached on a fielder’s choice and Albright walked, senior slugger Helgren hit a towering grand slam over the left-center wall to provide some separation and give the Skyhawks a 9-4 lead.
The Golden Lions pieced together a run in the top of the fifth on two hits and a sacrifice fly from Jacob Giron but for the third time on the day, UT Martin responded in their half of the inning with a run of their own. Worley doubled in Keylen Steen with a rope into right-center to put the Skyhawks into double-digit runs and push their lead back to 10-5.
Reliever Shane Seckinger tossed three scoreless innings in the sixth through eighth before finding some trouble in the ninth. After surrendering a couple of walks, UT Martin went to Evans to shut the door. A fly ball just out of the reach of left fielder Dan Kerwin plated three runs for UAPB but that is all that they could manage in the ninth as the Skyhawks held on for the victory.
Bazzani (1-1) earned the win, tossing five innings allowing only three earned runs and striking out eight Golden Lion hitters. Nathan Sawrie (0-2) was saddled with the loss for Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Worley (3-4, one double), Hauser (2-5, two runs scored), and Wessling (2-3, one RBI) each recorded multiple hits for the Skyhawks, while Helgren’s four RBI’s led the way in the victory.
Both teams are back in Union City tomorrow for game-two of the weekend series. First pitch from Elam Stadium is scheduled for 2 p.m.