SHUTOUT, LATE RALLY IN DOUBLEHEADER CAPS OFF BASEBALL TEAM'S SERIES SWEEP OVER IPFW
MARTIN, Tenn. – Dominant pitching carried The University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team to a 1-0 shutout in Game 1 of a doubleheader today against IPFW, while a three-run bottom of the sixth propelled the Skyhawks past the Mastodons in a 4-3 seven-inning Game 2 this afternoon at Skyhawk Field.
The UT Martin pitching staff was once again outstanding today, as six Skyhawk hurlers combined for 21 strikeouts on the day (10 in Game 1, 11 in Game 2). That marks the fifth time in the last six games that UT Martin has piled up double-figure strikeout totals. Dalton Potts (career-best four strikeouts in three shutout innings) earned his first career victory in Game 1, while John Skubina also picked up his first career win after fanning a career-high five batters over 2.2 perfect innings in Game 2. Junior closer Stu Jones collected his second save in as many days in Game 1, while the Skyhawks allowed only nine hits and two earned runs over 16 innings on the day.
“John Skubina did a great job throwing strikes and staying ahead,” UT Martin head coach Bubba Cates said. “He got us out of a tough jam against the middle of their lineup and did a wonderful job finishing the game. Our entire staff did a great job this weekend, only allowing seven runs in the whole series.”
At the plate, Wade Collins went 4-for-7 with a pair of multi-hit games today. Freshman Kenny King went 3-for-6 and was responsible for three of the team’s five RBI on the day – including his first career homer in Game 2. Brent Morris also tallied three hits in six at-bats and drove in the go-ahead run in Game 2 for UT Martin, who compiled 16 hits in the doubleheader.
“We know Kenny is going to be a quality hitter for us and he came up with some big at-bats today,” Cates said. “He, Phil, Wade and Brent gave us a spark in the last inning and we kept getting big hit after big hit.”
The Skyhawks continue their season-long seven-game homestand on Tuesday, Feb. 26 when they play host to Evansville at 3 p.m.
Nico Zych had a two-hit game and scored the game’s lone run off a King sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth to give UT Martin a 1-0 victory.
Starting pitcher Taylor Cox was flawless on the hill, fanning five (all looking) while conceding only four hits over five scoreless innings. In the process, he lowered his season ERA to 0.93 through two starts.
Cox compiled a pair of strikeouts in the first inning. UT Martin put two men on base in the bottom half of the inning but couldn’t generate a run. The Skyhawks put together back-to-back singles to open the second inning but could not push a run across.
Cox ran into a bit of trouble in the third but pitched around it thanks to a triple play. With runners on first and second, IPFW’s Shane Trevino lined a ball to left field and Grant Glasser charged in to make a catch on the run. Glasser then fired to Wes Piersall at second base for the second out, while Piersall turned and delivered a strike to a stretching Collins to complete the rare feat.
Potts entered the game in the top of the sixth and bounced back from two straight walks to strike out three straight Mastodons. UT Martin opened the sixth with back-to-back singles but once again couldn’t get on the scoreboard. Potts then escaped a minor jam in the seventh, inducing an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.
After the Skyhawk offense had two more baserunners aboard in the seventh, they finally broke through in the bottom of the eighth. Zych led things off with a double down the left field line and he advanced to third on a Collins single. The next batter – King – lifted a high fly ball out to right field for a sacrifice fly to break the scoreless tie.
IPFW managed to load the bases with one out in the ninth, but Jones bounced back strong with a strikeout and groundout to first to put the finishing touches on the shutout.
King had two hits, two runs scored and two RBI as the Skyhawks pieced together four straight two-out hits in the bottom of the eighth for the 4-3 win.
UT Martin starting pitcher Alex Boshers retired the side in order in the top of the first and ended the second inning with back-to-back strikeouts.
King then crushed a 1-0 pitch over the left field wall to lead off the top of the second, giving the Skyhawks a one-run advantage. IPFW would tie the score with one run in the third and eventually took a 3-1 lead thanks to a two-run homer in the fourth.
Skubina entered the game with baserunners on the corners in the fifth, relieving John Houston (2.1 innings, one hit, three strikeouts). Skubina immediately put an end to a potential IPFW rally, striking out two straight to keep the score at 3-1. He then came out and retired the side on just nine pitches – including two strikeouts – in a scoreless sixth.
After IPFW recorded two quick outs in the bottom of the sixth, the Skyhawk rally began. Pinch hitter Phil Sorensen cranked a double to right field, then came around to score when Collins also ripped a double to right field. King then singled home Collins to tie the game at 3-3, bringing Morris to the plate. The junior outfielder delivered, launching a towering double that one-hopped the wall out in centerfield to score King and give UT Martin a 4-3 lead.
That was all the protection Skubina would need, as he needed only seven pitches to retire the side in order in the seventh and final frame.