WESTFALL, HELGREN POWER SKYHAWKS TO 7-4 CONFERENCE WIN OVER BELMONT
March 25, 2017
MARTIN, Tenn. – At a rain soaked Skyhawk Field, the University of Tennessee at Martin was able to overcome the elements en route to its first Ohio Valley Conference win of the season taking down Belmont 7-4.
The Bruins (9-12, 4-3) pushed across three runs in the top of the seventh inning to tie the game, but the resilient UT Martin (9-11, 1-7) squad rallied back to regain the lead in the seventh, before Ryan Helgren smacked a two-run single in the eighth to add some insurance and propel them to their first victory over Belmont in the last six attempts.
“Through the last three weekends, we have been really close in all the games,” said head coach Rick Robinson. “One of our biggest adjustments was moving Helgren up in the lineup. I told him we had a lot of confidence in him and we want to move him up to get more at-bats and a few more opportunities. He had a big day today with those two late RBI’s, so we are looking forward to building off this win and to the challenge tomorrow.”
The Skyhawks were the first on the board as catcher Dan Kerwin was re-inserted as the backstop for UT Martin and he came through with a two-out RBI-single in the second to drive in Creighton Eldridge to give the Skyhawks the 1-0 lead.
The biggest inning of the day came in the third, as UT Martin poured in three runs on three hits to pad its lead. Tyler Albright doubled home freshman leadoff hitter Connor Aube with a shot down the right field line to give the Skyhawks the 2-0 advantage. After a Tanner Wessling single and an Eldridge walk, freshman designated hitter Anthony Adduci picked up his 14th RBI on the year with an RBI-single to right. Ben Aslett then launched a shot into deep center field to bring home Wessling on a sacrifice fly and give UT Martin the 4-0 advantage after three innings.
Right-hander Dalton Westfall got the nod for the Skyhawks and had yet another stellar performance on the mound. The Buckhannon, W.Va. native shut down the Bruin lineup for the first five innings limiting them to just three hits in the first five frames. Belmont was finally able to break through in the sixth as Chas Hadden was able to draw a walk with the bases loaded to trim the margin to 4-1.
The Bruins rallied to bring home three runs in the seventh on a two-RBI double from second baseman Rafael Bournigal and a one-run single from Ben Kocker to even the score at 4-4. The Skyhawks abruptly responded in the bottom half of the inning as Helgren laced a double into left-center followed by a Wessling shot right back up the middle to bring him home and give UT Martin the lead back 5-4.
Helgren picked up his third RBI in the series with a big two-out single into left field to give the Skyhawks some breathing room in the eighth. Peyton Cain shut down the Bruins in eighth, while reliever Alex Evans shut the door on any comeback attempt in the ninth to give UT Martin their seventh home victory of the season.
Westfall (3-2) tossed a solid 7.0 innings allowing four runs and striking out five, while Evans recorded the last three outs in the ninth to earn his second save of the year. Dylan King (2-3) got the loss for Belmont.
Helgren (3-5, two RBI’s), Albright (2-4, one RBI), Wessling (2-4, one RBI) and Kerwin (2-4, one RBI) all notched multiple hits in the victory for the Skyhawks.
The rubber match between these two OVC rivals is set for tomorrow afternoon, with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m.
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