BIG HITS, TIMELY PITCHING LEADS TO 9-4 WIN OVER EASTERN KENTUCKY
April 13, 2014
MARTIN, Tenn. – The middle of the University of Tennessee at Martin batting lineup and shutdown efforts on the mound helped the Skyhawks overcome a four-run deficit and lay claim to a 9-4 victory over Ohio Valley Conference rival Eastern Kentucky at Skyhawk Field.
The heavy hitters in the Skyhawk lineup carried UT Martin (4-29, 3-15 OVC) to the win. No. 3 hole hitter Taylor Douglas went 3-for-3 with a walk and hit by pitch, driving in four runs while scoring once himself. Cleanup man Taylor Cox went 3-for-4 with a walk, three RBI’s and a run scored.
Nico Zych (run scored) and Max Balter (RBI, run scored) also had multi-hit efforts wihle Chase Young scored twice and had an RBI out of the No. 2 spot in the lineup. Nick Molina (two runs scored) and Andrew Massey (one run) also added to the Skyhawk offensive attack.
On the mound, John Houston (2-1) continued his dominance this season by picking up the win after fanning four over three shutout frames of relief. Houston now has had a hand in every UT Martin victory in 2014 (two wins, two saves). Starting pitcher Alex Martin only allowed Eastern Kentucky to score in one inning but did not factor into the decision after allowing four runs on seven hits through six innings.
“We finally got some big hits,” Skyhawk interim head coach Brad Goss said. “We’ve been waiting for them all year and they finally came to us today. Taylor Cox came up big for us with his homer and go-ahead single and Taylor Douglas stayed hot – he’s swinging it well right now. Our pitching staff only made two mistakes all day. Alex settled in after the third inning and John came in and did an outstanding job of shutting the door.”
Martin held the Colonels scoreless through the first two frames but Eastern Kentucky (17-19, 7-8 OVC) hit a pair of two-run homers in the third inning to go ahead by a 4-0 margin.
The Skyhawks didn’t waste much time getting on the scoreboard thanks to a two-out rally in the bottom of the third. Young drew a two-out walk and on the next pitch, Douglas lined a double down the left field line to score Young. Cox then guided a 1-0 pitch into centerfield to bring in Douglas and cut the UT Martin deficit in half at 4-2.
Martin pitched around a leadoff single in the fourth and his offense supplied him another run in the bottom half. In a matter of seconds after making a diving catch to his left to end the top of the fourth and save a run, Zych led off with a double to deep left center and advanced to third on a Massey groundout. Balter then grinded out a single to right field to plate Zych and bring the Skyhawks within one run.
Martin then did a masterful job of escaping trouble in the top of the fifth. Eastern Kentucky loaded the bases but Martin came up with a big strikeout to end the inning and keep the score at 4-3.
The Skyhawks turned their first of three late double plays in the game to end the sixth. Cox then tied the game with a towering solo homer to lead off the bottom of the sixth, his first round tripper of the season and second of his career.
Houston then came in for his first inning of work. After the first two Colonel batters reached (double, hit by pitch), Houston worked out of the jam by getting a called strikeout and a 4-6-3 double play.
UT Martin then took its first lead of the game in the bottom of the seventh. Molina singled up the middle to lead off the inning and was sacrificed to second on a bunt by Drew Erie. After Douglas was intentionally walked, Cox sent a single up the middle to score Molina and give the Skyhawks the 5-4 edge.
Houston dialed up a pair of strikeouts in his scoreless eighth and UT Martin broke the game open with a big bottom of the eighth. Massey and Balter singled and after Molina was hit by a pitch, the bases were loaded for Young with two away. He was then issued a four-pitch walk, scoring Massey and extending UT Martin’s advantage out to 6-4. Douglas then roped his second double of the game and team-high 12th two-bagger of the season to clear the bases and push the Skyhawk lead out to 9-4.
Houston took advantage of another double play in the top of the ninth before tallying a game-ending strikeout to nail down the win.
The Skyhawks begin a four-game road swing this Tuesday, April 15 when they travel to Southern Illinois for a 5 p.m. matchup.