MURRAY, Ky. – In its Division-I program record 25th win of the season, the University of Tennessee Martin baseball team took down Murray State 9-3 on Friday night in game one of a crucial final Ohio Valley Conference series.
The Skyhawks picked up the victory by pounding out 15 hits, while combining it with a solid pitching effort from starting pitcher Winston Cannon and reliever Kyle Laberge to take down the Racers.
“Cannon and Laberge did a great job of keeping their hitters off balance,” said head coach Rick Robinson. “We also did a nice job at the plate of picking up some big time hits in key situations.”
UT Martin (25-27, 12-16 OVC) second baseman Tyler Albright started the game with a bang as he smashed a shot off the left field foul pole to put the Skyhawks ahead 1-0 early.
Senior Ryan Helgren kept the offense going in the third inning with a two-RBI single to right field to put the visiting squad ahead 3-0. Murray State picked up a run in the bottom half of the inning, but the Skyhawks still led 3-1 after three.
A beautiful bunt single from right fielder Tanner Wessling brought home Albright in the fifth inning to extend the UT Martin advantage to 4-1. The Racers fought back with a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning to trim the Skyhawk lead to 4-2.
The UT Martin bats were rolling again in the sixth inning, but were also helped out by a key Murray State mistake. Albright put a ball in play to shortstop and two runs came home an errant throw to push the margin to 6-2.
The Skyhawks closed the game out with a huge ninth inning. Albright smacked his second solo homer of the day to kickstart the frame, followed by back-to-back-to-back doubles from red-hot Dan Kerwin, Wessling and Helgren to pick up a trio of runs to put the game away for good. The Racers got one back in the ninth, but it was not enough as UT Martin took game one 9-3.
Cannon (5-4) picked up his fifth victory of the season with a steady 5.0 innings, striking out four and allowing just two earned runs. Laberge (2) tossed the final 4.0 innings, punching out three batters and allowing just one earned run in his second save of the season.
Kerwin (4-5, two runs), Albright (2-5, two homers), Wessling (2-5, two RBI’s), Helgren (2-5, three RBI’s) and Keylen Steen (2-5) all notched multiple hits in the winning effort.
The Skyhawks will look to take the series tomorrow night. First pitch from Murray, Ky. is slated for 6 p.m.