MARTIN, Tenn. – The bats came alive for the University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team late this afternoon but Eastern Kentucky scored in seven different innings to claim a 18-13 win at Skyhawk Field.
The Skyhawks (3-29, 2-15 Ohio Valley Conference) nearly doubled their previous season-high in runs (previously seven) and banged out a season-best 16 hits today, most of which came in the final five frames.
Freshman third baseman Nick Molina became the first UT Martin hitter to have a four-hit game this season, as he went 4-for-5 with four runs scored and an RBI. Chase Young went 2-for-4 with career-highs of four RBI’s and two runs scored out of the leadoff spot. Taylor Cox had a multi-hit performance while Taylor Douglas and Jake Deason each scored twice. Mikey Nantze (one run scored, one RBI) had a good day at the dish while Isaac Carrel and Fletcher Johnson added career-highs of two RBI’s apiece for the Skyhawks.
Dalton Potts (1.2 innings, six runs) fell to 0-6 on the season for UT Martin. Cody Miller and John Houston each accounted for a scoreless inning of work out of the bullpen for the Skyhawks.
Eastern Kentucky (17-18, 7-7 OVC) got on the scoreboard early with two runs in the first inning, four runs in the second, six runs in the third and one run apiece in the fourth and fifth.
The Skyhawks scored their first runs in the bottom of the fifth. Andrew Massey led things off with a single and two batters later, Molina doubled to put a pair of runners in scoring position. With two outs, Young ripped a 1-1 pitch for a single up the middle that made the score 14-2.
John Skubina then came on and pitched a scoreless sixth, needing only nine pitches to get through the frame.
After the Colonels got the two runs back in the top of the seventh, the Skyhawk offense exploded for six runs in the bottom half of the frame – the highest scoring inning of the season for UT Martin.
Deason led off the seventh by reaching on an error. Five straight UT Martin batters then reached base safely, starting with a single off the bat of Balter. After Molina singled to load the bases, Nantze delivered a two-run single to make the score 16-4. Young then went the opposite way on the first pitch he saw to plate Molina. A Douglas walk brought in another run and kept the bases loaded before Carrel lifted a sacrifice fly out to left field to make the score 16-6. Kenny King then followed with a single to center to load the bases once again and Johnson came through with a clutch through the left side to plate Young and Douglas and provide the Skyhawks a six-spot on the scoreboard.
Miller worked through a shutout top of the eighth to set the stage for another big offensive inning for UT Martin, as the Skyhawks pushed across three more runs in the bottom half.
Molina crushed a double to center to lead off the inning and two batters later, Young was hit by a pitch. Douglas then kept the inning alive by drilling a double off the wall in left field that plated Molina. Carrel then got in on the action, delivering an RBI single to right field to bring in Young. Immediately following an Eastern Kentucky pitching change, King sent the first pitch he saw into deep center for a sacrifice fly to make the score 16-11.
Eastern Kentucky would add two more runs in the top of the ninth but Houston kept the Skyhawks within striking distance. After entering the game with the bases loaded and no outs, Houston induced a double play and would have been out of the inning with only one run pushed across if not for a UT Martin error.
The Skyhawks had one final rally in them in the ninth. Deason was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After a groundout moved Deason 90 feet from home, Molina stayed hot with a line drive single to center. Pinch hitter Drew Erie then singled and both he and Molina advanced one base on a throwing error. Young followed with a sacrifice fly to make the score 18-13 but the Colonels would soon close out the win.
UT Martin and Eastern Kentucky will close out their three-game set on Sunday, April 13 at 1 p.m. at Skyhawk Field.