May 6, 2017

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CHARLESTON, Ill. – Another strong performance at the plate guided the University of Tennessee at Martin baseball team to a crucial 15-2 dismantling of Eastern Illinois on Saturday afternoon in game two of this pivotal three-game set.

The Skyhawks posted their fourth consecutive win and moved to 9-2 in their last 11 Ohio Valley Conference contests with the victory.

“Our pitching staff did a nice job today of keeping runs from crossing the plate,” said head coach Rick Robinson. “Offensively, Kerwin and Steen did a great job driving in some runs late allowing us to relax a little as the wind picked up again. It was a really good performance for us overall on the road.”

The visitors pushed one run across in the very first inning as center fielder Creighton Eldridge scampered home on a double play ball off the bat of Tanner Wessling to give UT Martin the 1-0 advantage.

Eastern Illinois (16-31, 9-14) evened the score in the second inning with a run of their own to knot things up 1-1. However, just as they have done all weekend long, the Skyhawks bounced right back to nab the lead with four runs in the top of the third. Keylen Steen launched a three-run bomb to right center for his second homer of the series and third on the season. JoJo Allen followed him up with a sacrifice fly to push the lead to 5-1.

UT Martin (23-23, 10-13 OVC) picked up another run in the fourth, as Wessling doubled home fellow senior Ryan Helgren to extend the Skyhawk advantage to 6-1. The Panthers added a run in the bottom half of the inning to cut the deficit to just four runs, 6-2.

The Skyhawk bats came alive again in the sixth inning with three more runs. Steen picked up his fourth RBI on the day with a base hit to left field, followed by a Josh Hauser RBI-single to give UT Martin the 8-2 lead. Ben Aslett continued his stellar weekend with an RBI on a sacrifice fly to bring home Steen for his fifth RBI of the series and put the Skyhawks ahead 9-2.

One of the hottest hitters in the Ohio Valley Conference, Dan Kerwin, continued his tear with a two-run shot to center in the seventh. Steen also notched RBI number five on the day with a two-bagger to right as the UT Martin lead reached double-digits with a 12-2 advantage after seven.

Kerwin picked up right where left off the inning before with another round-tripper. This time it was a three-run shot that brought home Aslett and Hauser for a five-RBI day for the Bradenton, Fla. native. Eastern Illinois picked up one run in the bottom of the eighth, but that was all the home team could manage as UT Martin took game two 15-3.

Dalton Westfall (5-4) picked up the start and was up to his usual tricks notching his fifth win of the season, while allowing just six hits and striking out seven in 6.0 innings of work. His seven punch outs moved him to second on UT Martin’s single season strikeouts record list as the right-hander has now notched 77 on the season. Shane Seckinger worked 2.0 innings and Kyle Laberge tossed a scoreless ninth to close out the victory. Michael McCormick (1-3) took the loss for the Panthers.

Offensively, Steen (4-5, five RBI’s), Wessling (4-5, three runs), Hauser (3-5, two runs), Kerwin (2-5, two home runs) and Aslett (2-4, one RBI) all recorded multiple hits as the Skyhawks have now cranked out 32 runs and 39 hits in the series.

UT Martin will take its shot at program history tomorrow as the Skyhawks have never posted three OVC sweeps in a single season. UT Martin will also be looking for win number 11 in conference play which will set the all-time mark for the program since joining Division-I in 1993. The Skyhawks will look to pick up both milestones in game three tomorrow beginning at 1 p.m. 

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