March 3, 2017

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GREENVILLE, SC – In the opening contest of the First Pitch Invitational, the University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team dropped a 3-2 decision to Presbyterian College. Trailing 2-0 after six, the Skyhawks rallied back to tie the game thanks to big hits from Tanner Wessling in the seventh and Creighton Eldridge in the eighth, but it was not enough as the Blue Hose used two doubles in the ninth inning to tally the winning run and give UT Martin just their second loss of the season.

Lefty Dom Bazzani got the nod for UT Martin (5-2) on the mound and posted his best showing of the young season. The redshirt-sophomore tossed a solid eight innings only allowing five hits and two earned runs while striking out eight Presbyterian batters.

“I think we played well today,” said head coach Rick Robinson. “Bazzani pitched great but we just need to figure out how to get a few more hitters on base.”

After a scoreless first inning for both squads, Presbyterian (6-5) broke through in the second thanks to a sacrifice fly from infielder Glen Casaceli to give the Blue Hose the 1-0 lead. Bazzani was able to work out of a bases loaded jam in the inning to limit the damage, as the native from Stockbridge, Ga. forced a ground ball right back to him to trigger the 1-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Presbyterian added an additional run in the fifth inning when Blue Hose slugger A.J. Priaulx tripled to right-center to drive in teammate Cletis Avery and put Presbyterian ahead 2-0.

The Skyhawks responded in the sixth inning with a run of their own to trim the lead. After a single from Tyler Albright to extend his hitting streak to seven games, Wessling laced a double into right-center to drive in the second baseman for his sixth RBI of the year and pull the Skyhawks within one.

UT Martin again showed some late game heroics as Creighton Eldridge homered to right-center to square the game at 2-2 to lead off the eighth. It was the centerfielder’s first of the season and first of his career as a Skyhawk. UT Martin called upon reliever Alex Evans in the ninth, but were unable to close the door as the Blue Hose strung together a pair of extra-base hits to earn the walk-off victory.

For Evans (1-1), it was his first loss since April 2, 2016, snapping a streak of nine straight decision without recording a loss. Ryan Hedrick (2-1) picked up the win for Presbyterian. Dan Kerwin (2-4, two singles) notched his second multi-hit game of the season in the loss.

The Skyhawks are back in action on day two of the First Pitch Invitational tomorrow as they take on host Furman. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. 

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