MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team crawled back from an early deficit with four unanswered runs, then held on late for a 4-3 victory over Lipscomb at Skyhawk Field today.
The Skyhawks (7-9) allowed two runs in the first inning but after that, four UT Martin pitchers conceded just one unearned run for the rest of the game. At the forefront of the pitching attack was junior starter John Houston, who earned his first victory of the season after allowing only five hits while notching career-highs in innings pitched (six) and strikeouts (six).
Junior relievers John Skubina, Chris Ross and Stu Jones combined to allow just two hits and one walk in the final three innings. Skubina and Ross each posted their third scoreless outing of the season, while Jones worked the ninth for his fourth save in 2013.
“John Houston struggled at the beginning but his velocity increased as the game went on,” UT Martin head coach Bubba Cates said. “We have had to use him in relief and this is by far his longest outing of the year. He set the tone for our whole staff. We threw strikes against a good team and it was big to hold them to three runs.”
At the plate, seniors Grant Glasser and Matt Haynes led UT Martin with two-hit days, while Phil Sorensen scored a pair of runs. Haynes, Byron Johann and Nico Zych each drove in a run while Brent Morris and Ben Brewer both scored a run for the Skyhawks, who outhit Lipscomb by an 8-7 margin.
A two-out bloop single just past the outreached glove of Sonny Mastromatteo gave the Bisons an early 2-0 lead. Houston would then buckle down and mainly cruise from there, erasing Lipscomb scoring threats in the second (inning-ending groundout) and third frames (inning-ending double play).
UT Martin got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third. Brewer drew a one-out walk and came around to score on a Johann double over the Lipscomb right fielder’s head.
After a nine-pitch fifth inning by Houston, the Skyhawks tied the game at 2-all in the bottom of the fourth. Sorensen and Morris walked to lead off the inning and each advanced 90 feet on a Zych sacrifice bunt. Two batters later, Haynes turned on a single through the left side that resulted in a 2-2 tie.
Yet another inning-ending double play in the top of the sixth swung the momentum in the Skyhawks’ favor. Sorensen crushed a leadoff single off the right field wall and advanced to second after a Morris walk. Back-to-back wild pitches scored Sorensen and made the score 3-2 and Zych (the next batter) brought home Morris with an RBI groundout up the middle.
That 4-2 score would hold up until the ninth, when Lipscomb pushed across an unearned run off a sacrifice fly. With two men on, Jones recorded the save by inducing an inning-ending groundout to Zych.
The Skyhawks now go on the road for a three-game Ohio Valley Conference set at nearby Murray State on Friday, March 15 through Sunday, March 17.